Main Content


Orange, California

City of Orange, California
Motto: A Slice of Old Town Charm
Location of Orange within Orange County, California.

Location of Orange within Orange County, California.

Coordinates: 33°48′11″N 117°49′57″W / 33.80306, -117.8325
Country United States
State California
County Orange
Founded 1869
Incorporated April 6, 1888
Mayor Carolyn Cavecche
– Total 23.6 sq mi (69.9 km²)
– Land 23.4 sq mi (60.6 km²)
– Water 0.5 sq mi (1.3 km²)
Elevation 195 ft (59 m)
Population (2000)[1]
– Total 128,821
Density 5,506.4/sq mi (2,126.5/km²)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
– Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP code 92856
Area code(s) 714
FIPS code 06-53980
GNIS feature ID 1652765

The Orange Plaza, 1888. The Orange Plaza (whose boundaries were established by the first survey of the site of Richland) is known locally as “The Circle.” Efforts to reconstruct the Plaza in a square shape were defeated in 1886, after which a fountain was erected at the center.

Orange Plaza today. The Olympic Torch passed through this spot on July 26, 1984 on its way to Los Angeles for the Games of the XXIII Olympiad.

The City of Orange is located in Orange County, California, United States. It is approximately 3 miles (6 kilometers) north of the county seat, Santa Ana. Orange is unusual in that many of the homes in its Old Town District were built prior to 1920; whereas many other cities in the region demolished such houses in the 1960s, Orange decided to preserve them.


Members of the Tongva and Juaneño/Luiseño nations long inhabited this area. After the 1769 expedition of Gaspar de Portolà, an expedition out of San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico, led by Father Junípero Serra, named the area Vallejo de Santa Ana (Valley of Saint Anne). On November 1, 1776, Mission San Juan Capistrano became the area’s first permanent European settlement in Alta California, New Spain.

In 1801, the Spanish Empire granted 62,500 acres (253 km2) to Jose Antonio Yorba, which he named Rancho San Antonio. Yorba’s great rancho included the lands where the cities of Olive, Orange, Villa Park, Santa Ana, Tustin, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach stand today. Smaller ranchos evolved from this large rancho, including the Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana.

Don Juan Pablo Grijalva, a retired Spanish soldier and the area’s first landowner, was granted permission in 1809 by the Spanish colonial government to establish a rancho in “the place of the Arroyo de Santiago.

After the Mexican-American war, Alta California was ceded to the United States by México with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, and though many Californios lost titles to their lands in the aftermath, Grijalva’s descendants retained ownership through marriages to AngloAmericans.

In 1869, Los Angeles attorneys Alfred Chapman and Andrew Glassell received, as payment for legal services, 1,385 acres (6 km²) of land from Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana, which they quickly subdivided into a one-square-mile town with numerous ten acre (40,000 m²) farm lots surrounding it. Originally the community was named Richland, but the town’s application for a post office was denied in 1873, due to the fact that there was already a Richland in Sacramento County. According to California from the Conquistadores to the Legends of Laguna by Roeger W. Jones, Alfred Chapman (who wanted the name “Lemon”), Andrew Glassell (who favored “Orange”), and two other gentlemen (who pressed for “Olive” and “Walnut”) played a hand of poker, and whoever won the game would get to rename the town. Glassell, whose birthplace was Orange County, Virginia (itself named not after the fruit, but after Prince William IV of Orange), won the game, and in January of 1875, Richland was duly renamed Orange. The other suggested names were assigned to streets in the new town.

The small town was developed around a central Plaza in the form of a traffic circle (or “roundabout“) which remains to this day, and was incorporated on April 6, 1888 under the general laws of the State of California. That Orange was the only city in Orange County to be planned and built around a Plaza, earned it the nickname “Plaza City.” [1] According to company records, Orange was the first developed town site to be served by the Southern California Railway when its transcontinental rail line (the nation’s second) reached Orange County.

The town experienced its first growth spurt during the last decade of the 19th century (as did many of the surrounding communities), thanks to ever-increasing demands for California-grown citrus fruits, a period some refer to as the “Orange Era.” Southern California’s real estate “boom” of 1886-1888, fueled by railroad rate wars, also contributed to a marked increase in population. Like most cities in Orange County, agriculture formed the backbone of the local economy, and growth thereafter was slow and steady until the 1950s, when a second real estate boom spurred development. Inspired by the development of a region-wide freeway system which connected Los Angeles’ urban center with outlying areas like Orange, large tracts of housing were developed from the 1950s to the early 1970s, and this continues today, albeit at a much slower pace, at the eastern edge of the City.


Orange is located at 33°47’16” North, 117°51’00” West (33.802945, -117.832506)[2].

The City has a total area of 27.0 mi² (69.9 km²), 23.1 mi² (59.9 km²) of which is land and 0.5 mi² (1.3 km²) of which is water. The total area is 1.9% water.


Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Avg High °F 65 67 67 71 72 80 89 90 83 77 71 66
Avg Low °F 45 46 47 50 54 57 61 62 60 56 50 46
Avg Rainfall in. 2.7 2.4 2.5 1.0 0.2 0.1 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 1.3 1.8
Source: Weatherbase


Old Towne, Orange Historic District, a one square-mile around the original plaza, contains many of the original structures built in the period after the City’s incorporation. It is a vibrant commercial district, containing Orange County’s oldest operating bank and the oldest operating soda fountain. The Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997 (#NPS-#97000617), and is the largest National Register District in California. The Old Towne Preservation Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to maintaining the district.

According to State Historic Resource Surveys, Orange is unique among the region and the state in that it has the second largest concentration of historic buildings. A list of all of the buildings and sites in Orange that appear in the National Register of Historic Places can be found at [2], [3], and [4].

Architectural styles in Old Towne Orange

Demographics in 2000

As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 128,821 people, 40,930 households, and 30,165 families residing in the City. The population density is 2,126.5/km² (5,506.4/mi²). There were 41,904 housing units at an average density of 691.7/km² (1,791.2/mi²).

The racial makeup of the City is 56.6% White, 1.60% African American, 0.78% Native American, 9.32% Asian, 0.23% Pacific Islander, 13.82% from other races, and 3.75% from two or more races. 32.16% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. Orange has a large Middle-Eastern community in proportion to its population, notably Iranians and Arab Americans, who have bought homes and own some businesses in the city.

There are 40,930 households, out of which 37.1% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.1% are married couples living together, 11.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 26.3% are non-families. 19.5% of all households are made up of individuals, and 6.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 3.02 and the average family size is 3.43.

The population is spread out with 26.7% under the age of 18, 9.9% from 18 to 24, 33.3% from 25 to 44, 20.5% from 45 to 64, and 9.6% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 33 years. For every 100 females, there are 100.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 98.7 males.

The median income for a household in the City is $58,994, and the median income for a family is $64,573. Males have a median income of $42,144 versus $34,159 for females. The per capita income for the City is $24,294. 10.0% of the population and 6.8% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 12.5% of those under the age of 18 and 7.5% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


In the state legislature Orange is located in the 33rd Senate District, represented by Republican Dick Ackerman, and in the 60th, 71st, and 72nd Assembly District, represented by Republicans Bob Huff, Todd Spitzer, and Michael D. Duvall respectively. Federally, Orange is located in California’s 40th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +8[4] and is represented by Republican Ed Royce.

People and culture

Points of interest

A view of the fountain currently located at the center of the Orange Plaza, dedicated on December 1, 1937. The original fountain had been erected on this spot in 1886. A plaque at the fountain’s base proclaims “Whoever passes here, let him remember the brave men of the Orange community who have in all times gone to the defense of their country.

Orange is home to parks, lakes, a small zoo, and a wildlife sanctuary.

The Block at Orange, a large, outdoor shopping and entertainment center, is located on the western edge of the City. It features Old Navy, Hollister, Ann Taylor Factory Store, and Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th as well as high quality entertainment venues including AMC Theaters, Dave & Buster’s, Vans Skatepark and Lucky Strike Bowling Center.

Historically, The Circle has been primarily home to a wide variety of antique shops– and has become a well known destination amongst antique collectors. A more recent trend has brought clothing boutiques, and several casual and upscale restaurants. It also features two Starbucks Coffee locations, Radio Shack, Wells Fargo bank, a Masonic Lodge, and is within walking distance of Chapman University and the newly reconstructed public library.

For over 30 years, during Labor Day Weekend, the Circle plays host to the Orange International Street Fair. Friends, families and neighbors get together to experience a variety of food, music and dance from cultures around the world. The profits from the event go to non-profit charities that help people in the community.

The “Villa Park Orchards Association” packing house, located along the former Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (now BNSF Railway) mainline, is the sole remaining fruit packing operation in Orange County.

The Lewis Ainsworth House is the city’s only restored house museum.



Like most cities in Southern California, the primary means of transportation is the automobile. Orange is situated near many state freeways, as well as Interstate 5, also known as the Santa Ana Freeway. The junction of “the 5” with two state highways (SR 57 “Orange Freeway” and SR 22 “Garden Grove Freeway”), commonly called the “Orange Crush,” is one of the busiest interchanges in Orange County, and is located on the southwestern edge of the City. The eastern areas of Orange are served by the Eastern and Foothill Toll Roads, two of California’s first toll highways, which connect the city with the cities of Irvine and Rancho Santa Margarita.


The town’s first rail service, the Santa Ana, Orange & Tustin Street Railway, was a 4.04 mile (6.5 km) long horsecar line that ran between Santa Ana and Orange, beginning in 1886. One year later, the Santa Ana & Orange Motor Road Company purchased the line, using a steam “dummy” car and a single gasoline motorcar as its means of conveyance. In 1906, Henry E. Huntington acquired the company under the auspices of the Los Angeles Inter-Urban Railway and electrified the line.

The former Mediterranean Revival Style combination depôt of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in Orange, California. The structure was dedicated on May 1, 1938, and was closed with the discontinuation of passenger service in 1971. The building was granted historic landmark status by the City on November 15, 1990. In July 2004, the facility was home to a Cask ‘n Cleaver restaurant.

Passenger service over the new line operated by Huntington’s Pacific Electric Railway began on June 8, 1914, originating at the PE’s depot on Lemon Street. The route provided freight service to the local citrus growers, in direct competition with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Pacific Electric sold out in 1961 to the Southern Pacific Railroad, who ultimately abandoned the line in 1964.

The Santa Fe, under its affiliate the Southern California Railway, laid its first tracks through Orange in 1886, and established its first depot the following year. The route would become part of the railroad’s famous “Surf Line“, and by 1925, sixteen daily passenger trains (the Santa Fe’s San Diegan) made stops in Orange. During peak growing seasons, as many as 48 carloads of citrus fruits, olives, and walnuts were shipped daily from the Orange depot as well.

Rail connections to Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, and Northern San Diego County by the Metrolink regional commuter rail network. The Orange Metrolink station‘s platform is situated adjacent to the former Santa Fe depot in the downtown Historic District, which is also home to an Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) bus station, is the second busiest station of the entire Metrolink train system due to its position serving as a transfer station for the Orange County and the IEOC Metrolink lines. The former Santa Fe mainline links the cities of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Diego via a junction north of the station.


John Wayne Airport (SNA) in nearby Santa Ana, California provides daily scheduled airline service for the area.

Schools, colleges and universities

No Matches Found