The city of Orange is located in Orange County, California. It is approximately 3 miles 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. While many other cities in the region demolished such houses in the 1960s, Orange decided to preserve them. The small affluent city of Villa Park is surrounded by the city of Orange. 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 home to parks, lakes, a small zoo, a university, and a wildlife sanctuary. The Outlets 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 Theatres, Dave & Buster’s, Vans Skatepark and Lucky Strike Bowling Center. Historically, the plaza 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 locations, mirroring each other on opposite ends of the plaza, RadioShack, Wells Fargo bank, a Masonic lodge, and is within walking distance of Chapman University and the newly reconstructed public library.