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Happy quasquicentennial, Orange County!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 11, 2014 03:00pm | Post a Comment
On this day in 1889, Orange County, California was born, making it 125 years young today. 


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Orange County

In early 1889, Pemberton Medicine Company (later Coca-Cola) incorporated in Atlanta, Colombia Phonograph (later Columbia Records) launched, Japan adopted the Meiji Constitution and the Eiffel Tower opened in Paris. Meanwhile in Southern California, the communities on Coyote Creek's left bank seceded those on the right bank and incorporated as the County of Orange. More precisely, on 11 March a bill was signed into law which allowed for voters to vote whether or not to approve the motion to incorporate -- which they did (2,509 to 500) on 4 June, 1889. But today's date is the one that is observed by most of Orange County's friends and family as its birthday.

It wasn't the first time county borders within California had changed. In the first half century after the US invaded and conquered Alta California from Mexico, the county borders have changed several times; San Bernardino County split from Los Angeles County in 1853, parts of Los Angeles County became Kern County in 1866, and in 1893 Riverside County was formed out of what had been parts of San Bernardino and San Diego counties. Several attempts were made and failed to establish Orange County in the 1870s and '80s.




Today Orange County includes the incorporated communities of Aliso Viejo, Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Dana Point, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Habra, La Palma, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Los Alamitos, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, Tustin, Villa Park, Westminster, and Yorba Linda


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of North Orange County

Orange County's unincorporated communities include Coto de Caza, Cowan Heights, Emerald Bay, Ladera Ranch, Las Flores, Lemon Heights, Midway City, Modjeska Canyon, North Tustin, Orange Park Acres, Rancho Mission Viejo, Red Hill, Rossmoor, Silverado, and Trabuco Canyon.


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South County

Unlike Los Angeles County, which is usually viewed as comprising about twenty regions (unless you're one of those unfortunate bipolar "Eastside vs Westside" types), Orange County is usually just divided into two -- North County and South County -- and the dividing line between the two is considered by most to be California State Route 55.


DIVERSE ORANGE COUNTY 

Most peoples' ideas about Orange County probably owe more to television series like The OC (primarily filmed in Los Angeles's South Bay) and quasi-scripted "reality" series like Real Housewives of Orange County and Laguna Beach... or perhaps to films like Gleaming the Cube, Suburbia, Brick than they do to firsthand experience. Of course any sensible person knows better than to trust Hollywood when it comes to depicting the reality of Southern California so set aside our preconceptions and consider some facts. 

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Forbes
recently named Orange County one of the country's most diverse places (placing it above even Los Angeles County). There is no ethnic or racial majority in Orange County (or Los Angeles County, for that matter).  Roughly 44% of Orange Countians are non-Latino white, 34% are Latino of any race, 18% are Asian, 2% are black, and 1% are Native American. It's home to the largest Vietnamese-American community in the world and three widely recognized ethnic enclaves: Little SeoulLittle Arabia, and Little Saigon Additionally there are large populations of Armenian, Chinese, English, Filipino, German, Irish, Jewish, Lebanese, Mexican, Persian, Salvadoran, Scottish, and Taiwanese-Americans. 30% of Orange County's residents were born in another country and 45% speak a language other than English at home. Roughly 31% of Orange County voters are registered as Democrats (the same as the national average) and 42% are registered Republicans -- meaning of course that there's no political majority. 

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LITTLE SEOUL


Garden Grove's Little Seoul is indeed quite little although it's nonetheless the second largest Korean-American community on the West Coast, after Koreatown in Los Angeles. Although it emerged in the 1980s, at just three kilometers long, Little Seoul is still more of a Korean commercial corridor than residential enclave -- Buena Park, Fullerton, and Irvine are all home to much more of North County's Korean-American population, the county's second largest Asian-American population after Vietnamese-Americans. Little Seoul is home to offices of Korea Times; various Korean-American community services; an annual Korean Festival; and many Korean markets, BBQ, cafés, lounges, noodle houses, churches, plazas, and seafood restaurants.


LITTLE ARABIA 

Little Arabia, in Anaheim, is by some estimates the second largest Arab enclave in the country after the one in Dearborn, Michigan. It's also sometimes referred to as Little Gaza on account of the fact that many of its Arabs have roots in Palestine (as well as Palestine's neighbors Egypt and Syria) and that the neighborhood's original designation is Garza Island. There are numerous bakeries, beauty salons, halal butchers, hookah cafés, markets, restaurants and jewelry stores in the neighborhood today that reflect the Arabic community's presence, which began to flourish in the 1990s


LITTLE SAIGON


Orange County's Little Saigon is the largest Vietnamese-American enclave in the country. The neighborhood is also colloquially known as Bolsa, after the main thoroughfare (Bolsa Avenue) of the neighborhood's original borders, which contained a small overlapping area of Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and Westminster. Much as with Koreatown in Los Angeles, the Vietnamese-American population and character has since massively expanded since the original borders were officially designated in 1988 and now parts of Huntington Beach, Midway City, and Stanton also have a strong Vietnamese character. As of the 2010 census, Westminster's population was nearly 48% Asian-American (mostly Vietnamese) and Garden Grove's Vietnamese-American population exceeded 54,000. This translates to vibrant annual Tết Nguyên Đán festivities; more than 500 Vietnamese restaurants (time to move beyond phở and bánh mì); Euro-disco/Vietnamese New Wave; "ethnic" malls; lingerie cafés; and Vietnamese-language television stations, radio stations, and newspapers.


Of course "diversity" extends beyond humanity and Orange County is not just culturally diverse but extremely biodiverse, geographically diverse, and diverse in other ways too. Exploring its corners I've found faux-Spanish seaside villages (San Clemente), faux-Bavarian villages (Old World Village), faux-Utopian futurist villages (Irvine), Eichler tractsItalo-disco performers, great vegetarian Vietnamese food (Bo De Tinh Tam Chay and Au Lac), Isamu Noguchi's California Scenario, Pao Fa Temple, the Crystal CathedralDisneylandKnott's Berry Farmthe largest freestanding wooden structures on the planet (Tustin's WWII-era blimp hangars), Asian Garden Mall (Phước Lộc Thọ), Mission San Juan Capistrano, forests, city centers, parks, mysterious business parks, beaches, red-tile tract house tracts, chaparral-covered mountains, master-planned madness, and biker bars. 




URBAN ORANGE


Costa Mesa skyline

As with Los Angeles, Orange County is usually mischaracterized as a vast, sprawling, and completely flat collection of suburbs. However, thanks to nature (which such mischaracterizations conveniently ignore), Orange County actually rises rather dramatically from sea level at the coast to 1,337 meters high at Santiago Peak -- which positively dwarves cities more often characterized as vertical such as Hong Kong, New York, and Shanghai.


Newport Beach with the Santa Ana Mountains behind

Orange County's skyscrapers may provide no competition for height with the Santa Ana Mountains but there are more than of the towering structures in the region than the dated stereotypes suggest. Currently there are at least 27 skyscrapers rising above a height of thirty meters located in Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Garden GroveHuntington Beach, IrvineNewport Beach, Orange, and Santa Ana. What's perhaps more surprising is that according to the most recent census, the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim area is the most densely populated region in the country. Orange County is also the sixth most populous county in the country (after Los Angeles, Cook County (Illinois), Harris County (Texas), Maricopa County (Arizona), and San Diego County).


ORANGE COUNTY ARTS


Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Orange County has a thriving and diverse art scene reflected in the presence of its many museums, art festivals, art centers, and art galleries. In addition there are numerous theaters, cultural festivals, culinary festivals, opera, and Segerstrom Center for the Arts. I'm sure that there are a lot more but off the top of my head I can think of several talented Orange County born-and-bred musical acts such as Social Distortion, Emily's Sassy Lime, Agent Orange, The K-nobsThe VandalsThe Adolescents, Jeff Buckley, Giant Drag.

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EXPLORING ORANGE COUNTY 


Orange County is home to one of the Southland's three international airports; John Wayne Airport (the other two are LA/Ontario International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport) which makes getting to it convenient. 



Once on the ground, exploring Orange County is becoming increasingly easy due to an expanding network of public transit options. The workhorse of the region is the Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA), which has existed since 1975 and currently operates 78 lines. Smaller local bus and shuttle companies include Anaheim Resort Transportation (ART), Irvine's iShuttle, and Laguna Beach Transit's trolley buses. 


Metrolink train to the sea -- source: AmtrakCal462

Orange County is additionally served by several commuter rail lines including Metrolink's 91, Orange County, and Inland Emp-Orange Co lines as well as Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner (which connects San Luis Obispo and San Diego). In the future (hopefully), Metro's 30 kilometer, planned West Santa Ana Transit Corridor will connect Santa Ana to Norwalk in Southeast Los Angeles County via light rail.


Ferries serving Orange County (from Santa Catalina Island) include Catalina Flyer, which connects with Newport Beach, and Catalina Express, which connects with Dana Point. There are also about 1,600 kilometers of bikeways in Orange County. Most of Orange County is also easily walkable although there sadly hasn't always been a lot of apparent thought given to pedestrians and frequently long stretches of unshaded sidewalk pass by commercial spaces constructed without walkers in mind. Hopefully that too will change as more and more people turn away from car-dependency for every single errand, which will make Orange County an even more vibrant place. 


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BLOGGING ORANGE COUNTY

In 2010 I expanded my blogs about local neighborhoods and cities to Orange County and ever since they've fairly dominated the poll. As I write this, Los Angeles's Glassell Park is in first place followed by the Orange County city of Anaheim in second and Yorba Linda in third. In Orange County I've so far explored and written about Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Orange, San Clemente, Santa Ana, and Tustin. To vote for more Orange County communities for me to explore and write about, click here


California Fool's Gold -- A South County Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 31, 2013 04:44pm | Post a Comment
YES, THE STEREOTYPES, THERE MUST BE MORE TO LIFE

Most of us know the stereotypes and are familiar with the frequent characterizations of Orange County. It’s supposedly culture-less and even somehow history-less. Anyone who’s spent any time in Los Angeles has no doubt heard the same hollow, bafflingly ignorant observations made of about that richly cultured city yet sadly, many Angelenos (who ought to no better) still nevertheless cling to the dated, and increasingly disconnected stereotypes about their neighbors to the south.



Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South Orange County

Of course anyone who’s spent any time in Orange County knows that the popular images of that County have as little in common with reality as the prevailing stereotypes of Los Angeles do. I'll acknowledge that there’s a degree of truth to some of them but as Orange County grows more urban, more diverse, more liberal, and more interesting, spreading them reveals more about the vastness of the spreader's ignorance than their insight or knowledge about the subject.


As of 2012 roughly 31% of Orange Countians were registered Democrats whereas 42% were registered Republicans so neither corporate political party can claim the majority (for now although the percentage of the former grows whilst the latter declines). Of all Orange Countians, 45% speak a language other than English at home. With a population that is 44% white*, 34% Latino**, 18% Asian, 2% black, and 1% Native American, there is no racial or ethnic majority. Forbes magazine recently placed Orange County above Los Angeles County in its list of the most diverse communities. Orange also has the third largest county population in California, just behind that of San Diego. But Orange’s population density is contained much higher. 1,472.3/km2 versus San Diego’s is 260/km2,making it more than five times as dense as the second biggest county in the state and therefore hardly a big, sleepy suburb.


I suspect that part of the Orange County's continuing image problem stems from the fact that whereas Los Angeles has an army of intelligent, informed academic, intellectual, and literary boosters, many of Orange County’s enthusiasts are rather less convincing. In my view, The OC Weekly is now superior to the LA Weekly in almost every regard. However, when it comes to their annual "Best of Orange County" lists, a disproportionate amount of winners are puzzlingly in Long Beach – the bustling Los Angeles County (not Orange) Medina to Los Angeles’s Mecca. Saying that the best things about one's county are located outside of it isn't exactly a ringing endorsement and seems to betray a disappointing sense of inferiority. I, for one, would love to see a "best of" list that only includes Orange County. 


NORTH ORANGE COUNTY

In my North Orange County primer I pointed out that Orange County that North Orange County is home to the largest population of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam as well as home to the vibrant ethnic enclaves of Little Saigon, Little Arabia, and Little Seoul. Most of the great Italo and Euro Disco performers (and their fans) bypass Los Angeles to play and dance in venues like Avec Nightclub, Bleu, the Observatory, and Shark Club. There’s lots of great architecture – the City of Orange includes three Eichler Tracts (three times as many as are located in Los Angeles) in addition to its many, lovely Craftsman homes. Costa Mesa’s Segerstrom Center for the Arts is a major hub of high culture. It’s also, of course, home to the popular Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm theme parks.


“What about South County?” you may well be asking at this point. Well, admittedly I know a lot less about South County than North (and still have loads to experience in the North). There certainly seem to quite a few more (frequently gated) master-planned communities in South County than in North County. Many of the towns seem only to have incorporated in the last couple of decades -- although their histories could be said to begin with the earliest human habitation thousands of years ago.


Even within clusters of red tile uniformity there are surprises and delights, sometimes all the more enjoyable because they're unexpected. Exploring Tustin I was surprised to find two enormous World War II era blimp hangars – two of the largest freestanding wooden structures on the planet -- and a surrounding, abandoned military base. Irvine’s prescribed and managed normalcy is clearly the work of a unique brand of madness that I enjoyed trying to wrap my head around. And most recently I rediscovered Laguna Beach -- a left-leaning arts colony full of rich hippies and gays (as well as stunning natural scenery). So to encourage more votes (and therefore more explorations by me of South County), here’s a primer to introduce you to the essentials about the region’s communities to entice you to vote.


VISITING AND EXPLORING SOUTH COUNTY


The great Missourian Mark Twain famously said that “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” He was right, of course, and I suggest that anyone eager to characterize Orange County explore it first -- preferably on foot. The worst way to see Orange County is probably from a car speeding down the freeway, which will limit one's experience to views of architecturally impressive freeway interchanges, freeway walls, and tree tops. If you're not up for walking or biking, there are also several public rail options including Metrolink'91Orange County, and Inland Empire/Orange County lines. It's also traversed by Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner. The dominant bus system is the OCTA (Orange County Transit Authority), the 78 lines of which access every city in the county. Smaller bus lines include Irvine's iShuttle and Laguna Beach Transit. If you're taking a boat from Catalina Island, you can take a Catalina Express boat.


ROCK THE VOTE 

Of all communities in the South County, right now Balboa Island (in Newport Beach) and San Clemente in are tied for second place and representing South County. To vote vote for Orange County neighborhoods and communities, vote here. To vote for other Los Angeles County communities to be covered on the blog, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles neighborhoods, vote here.  


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A BRIEF HISTORY OF SOUTH ORANGE COUNTY

For thousands of years before the Spanish Conquest, what’s now South Orange County was home to the Acagchemem nation. All of California was claimed for Spain in 1769 and the conquerors called the indigenous people Juaneños. In 1822, what's now South County became part of the newly-independent country of Mexico. Orange County remained part of Mexico until 1848, when the US defeated Mexico in war. In 1850, when California became a state, what’s now Orange County was made part of Los Angeles County. Orange County remained part of the County of Los Angeles for almost half a century, until 11 March, 1889 when Orange County seceded.

In 1900 there were still fewer than 20,000 residents spread across the then-new, mostly agricultural county. The 1920s saw significant growth and the region’s population first surpassed 100,000. In the 1950s and ‘60s Orange County grew incredibly quickly. Since then, every decade has seen further growth although most of the stereotypes seem to be trapped in this era from half a century ago. The South County region is bordered by Riverside County to the northeast, San Diego County to the southwest, North Orange County to the northwest, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. And now for the communities... 

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ALISO VIEJO


City of Aliso Viejo Theatre Complex

Aliso Viejo had been an unincorporated community since around 1990, and incorporated as a city in 2001, making it the newest city in the county. As of 2010 the demographic breakdown was roughly 62% white, 20% Asian, 17% Latino, and 2% black. Its primary attractions are the Aliso Viejo Town Center and Renaissance ClubSport. In 2006 the community gained widespread attention when the principal of Aliso Niguel High School banned school dances in a Footloose-like situation covered by the BBC and Geraldo at Large.


COTO DE CAZA


Image source: At Home in Coto

Coto de Caza is a guard-gated community founded in 1968, one of Orange County's oldest and most expensive master-planned communities. As of 2010 the population was 82% white, 8% Latino, 6% Asian, and 1% black. Coto de Caza (meaning "game preserve") was envisioned as a hunting lodge. It’s currently home to two eighteen-hole golf courses and two clubhouses as well as the Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park.


DANA POINT


Dana Point harbor as seen from the end of Blue Lantern St.

Dana Point is named after the headland of Dana Point, a popular port for ships involved with the hide trade with nearby Mission San Juan Capistrano. It was in turn named after Richard Henry Dana, Jr., author of Two Years Before the Mast. The harbor contains a replica of his ship, The Pilgrim. The hide trade reached its peak in the 1830s and 1840s and nowadays people are more likely to visit to attend the Festival of Whales, which has taken place annually since 1972. The Tall Ships Festival is also held annually, in September. The population is roughly 76% white, 17% Latino of any race, 3% Asian, and 1% black.


IRVINE


Irvine Business Complex (image source: Irvine Chamber)

Irvine is a master planned community mostly developed by the Irvine Company after the 1960s. It incorporated as a city in 1971. The layout was designed by the great architect William Pereira and Irvine Company employee Raymond Watson and is nominally divided into housing developments euphemistically referred to as townships. Although one of the safest cities in the country, it’s also one of the most disparaged for its sterile and managed Utopian aspirations. To read more about Irvine, click here.


LADERA RANCH 


Ladera Ranch (image source: DMB)


Ladera Ranch is a planned, unincorporated master-planned community. Construction of the community began in 1999 on portions of the Rancho Mission Viejo cattle ranch, at that time the largest remaining working ranch in Orange County. Like Irvine it consists of neighborhood "villages" includingOak Knoll Village, Bridgepark, Flintridge Village, Township, Wycliffe Village, Echo Ridge Village, Avendale Village, Terramor Village, and Covenant Hills Village. As of 2010 the population was 69% white, 13% Latino of any race, 12% Asian, and 2% black. 


LAGUNA BEACH


View from Crescent Bay Point Park

Laguna Beach is a quirky, affluent community in South Orange County. It is widely known for its vibrant arts scene and environmental treasures. It has far more registered Democrats than Republicans and is home to an well-established gay scene. It's quite possibly the most beautiful spot in the county. To read more about it, click here.


LAGUNA HILLS


Taj Mahal Medical Center

Laguna Hills incorporated in 1991. It annexed North Laguna Hills in 1996 and the Westside Annex (including Sheep Hills Park) in 2000. For several decades before incorporation the Taj Mahal Medical Center has been a local landmark (since 1964). As of 2010 the population was 73% white, 21% Latino of any race, 13% Asian, and 1% black.


LAGUNA NIGUEL


The Chet Holifield Federal Building 

Laguna Niguel is a master planned community. In 1959, Boston’s Cabot, Cabot & ForbesLaguna Niguel Corporation established Laguna Niguel one of the first master planned communities in California. In 1973, Laguna Niguel Regional Park opened. A one-million square-foot ziggurat built for Rockwell International and designed by William Pereira was featured in the films Death Race 2000 (1975), Deal of the Century (1983), and Outbreak (1995). The city incorporated in 1989. As of 2010 its population was 73% white, 14% Latino of any race, 9% Asian, and 1% black.


LAGUNA WOODS


Laguna Woods 76 - 1966

About 90% of the city of Laguna Woods consists of Laguna Woods Village, a retirement community formerly known as Leisure World. Construction of Leisure World began in 1963. The city’s median population is 78 years old. The city of Laguna Woods incorporated in 1999. As of 2010 the population was 84% white, 10% Asian, 4% Latino, and 1% black.


LAKE FOREST


Serrano Adobe - Lake Forest

Lake Forest grew out of the community of El Toro, which was established in the 1880s. It’s named after two artificial, condo-lined lakes. Lake Forest incorporated as a city in 1991. Since incorporation, Lake Forest has expanded its limits to include the communities of Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills, two master planned developments. One of its parks, Heritage Hill, is home to some of the oldest buildings in the county including the Serrano Adobe, the old El Toro School House, and St. Georges Episcopal Church. As of 2010 the population was 57% white, 25% Latino, 13% Asian, 2% black, and 1% Native American.


LAS FLORES


Las Flores (image source: OC Real Estate Voice)

Las Flores is a small, unincorporated community with a population that in 2010 was about 65% white, 17% Latino, 13% Asian, and 2% black. It’s home to the Rancho Santa Margarita dog/skate park and Cosmo's Italian Kitchen.


MISSION VIEJO


Mission Viejo Lake (image source: Kelly Law Office)

Mission Viejo is located in Orange County’s Saddleback Valley, and was developed by Donald Bren, current president of the Irvine Company. The master-planned community is the second largest in the country, exceeded in size only by Highlands Ranch, Colorado. By several measures it’s one of the safest communities of its size in the country. It was for much of its existence undeveloped grazing land. The population as of 2010 was roughly 69% white, 17% Latino, 9% Asian, and 1% black. In entertainment it was the birthplace of actor/musician Noah Munck , actor/writer/producer David Henrie, actor Kristy Swanson, and drummer Matt Sorum (Guns N' Roses, The Cultand Velvet Revolver).


MODJESKA CANYON


Madame Modjeska in the garden of "Arden"

Modjeska Canyon is an unincorporated suburban community on the western slope of the Santa Ana Mountains. Most of the canyon is bordered by the Cleveland National Forest and it’s home of the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary. Modjeska is named after Polish stage actress Helena Modjeska, who between 1888 and 1906, made her home, "Arden" (now a National Historic Landmark) there. Later, in 1966, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love was incorporated in Modjeska before moving to Laguna Beach.


NEWPORT BEACH


Newport Beach Skyline at Night  (image source: Fine Art America)


Newport Beach began after Captain Samuel S. Dunnells defied naysayers by successfully navigating a 105-ton steamer named The Vaquero into a then-unnamed harbor. This prompted San Franciscan Robert Irvine to buy a large ranch that included the port. Newport Beach incorporated in 1906, a year after the Pacific Electric Railway arrived from Los Angeles making it the oldest city in South County. In 1923 it annexed Corona del Mar. In 2002 it annexed Newport Coast (which has Orange County's highest per capita income), East Santa Ana Heights, and San Joaquin Hills. In 2008 it annexed annexed West Santa Ana Heights. Completed in 1970, Newport Beach’s 17-story 620 Tower is the oldest skyscraper in Orange County. The population today is roughly 82% white, 7% Latino, 7% Asian, and 1% black. The TV show The OC was set in Newport Beach (although mostly filmed in Los Angeles's South Bay). On the other hand, much of Arrested Development was actually filmed there.


NORTH TUSTIN


Cowan Heights in North Tustin (image source: Jansen Team)

Unincorporated North Tustin is Orange County’s largest Census Designated Place (CDP). Its population is roughly 75% white, 13% Latino, 8% Asian, and 1% black. Communities within the North Tustin CDP also include Cowan Heights, East Tustin, Lemon Heights, Panorama Heights, and Red Hill.


RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA


Rancho Santa Margarita (image source: OC Book)

Rancho Santa Margarita is a master planned community named after Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores, in San Diego County. The city is located on lands formerly owned (along with Rancho Trabuco and Rancho Mission Viejo) by James L. Flood and his partner Jerome O’Neill, who purchased the ranchos in 1882. Despite its relatively long history, it only incorporated as a city in 2000, at which point it took the “Longest City Name in California” title from La Cañada Flintridge in the Verdugos. The population today is roughly 67% white, 19% Latino, 9% Asian, and 2% black. Supposedly it is the most frequent filming location for a television series titled The Real Housewives of Orange County.


SAN CLEMENTE


San Clemente in the 1950s

San Clemente is the most southern city in Orange County, located more than 200 kilometers from the furthest reaches of Northwest Los Angeles County, and is considerably closer to San Diego. It’s named after San Clemente Island, one of the California Channel Islands. It is mostly the result of the vision of Ole Hanson, a former Seattle mayor who purchased 8.1 km2 which he wanted to resemble a Spanish resort town. Indeed, its slogan is “Spanish Village by the Sea.” It was the setting of the film Brick (2005) and the MTV series, Life of Ryan. It’s also the birthplace of actress Clara Fawn (aka Cheyenne Silver) and musician Annie Hardy (Giant Drag). The population is roughly 76% white, 17% Latino, 4% Asian, 1% black, and 1% Native American. To read more about it, click here.


SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO



Mission San Juan Capistrano

San Juan Capistrano is centered around Mission San Juan Capistrano, founded in 1776. As with San Clemente, many of the strip malls and homes are built in the Spanish revival style. It was until recently the famed, springtime home of an iconic population of American Cliff Swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) that wintered in Goya, Argentina. Leon René’s song “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano” was recorded by The Ink Spots, Fred Waring, Guy Lombardo, Glenn Miller, The Five Satins, and Pat Boone.


SANTIAGO CANYON 



Cook's Corner in Santiago Canyon (image source: The Hamblogger)

Santiago Canyon
is an unincorporated community in Silverado between Trabuco and Modjeska Canyons. Within it are the smaller developments of Santiago Canyon Estates and the Falcon View Estates as well as Cook's Corner, a biker bar built in 1884.


SILVERADO


Silverado, California (image source: Captured By Mark)

Unincorporated Silverado was founded in 1878, at the edge of Cleveland National Forest. As its name suggests, it was located near several silver mines. In the 1940s it became a popular vacation retreat for the area’s hot springs. 


TRABUCO CANYON


Trabuco Canyon (image source: Shawn Barry)

Unincorporated Trabuco Canyon is a small community located in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains and partly within the Cleveland National Forest. "Trabuco” is Spanish for “blunderbuss.” Legend has it that it’s named after one such firearm that was lost in the canyon by one of Gaspar de Portolà’s expedition’s party in 1769.


TUSTIN


Tustin blimp hangars

Tustin includes the neighborhoods of Old Town, planned community Tustin Legacy, and upscale, golf-centric Tustin Ranch. Tustin’s Old Town arose in the 1880s and still contains several buildings from the era as well as some lovely Victorian and Craftsman homes nearby. One well-known house, The Rock House, was built in 1950 by a civil engineer who collected the rocks on various job sites in the Rocky Mountains. The most impressive structures, however, are the aforementioned 29,000 square meter, 59 meter high blimp hangars which were used as Starfleet’s Hangar 1 in Star Trek (2009). To read more about Tustin, click here.

*For the purpose of this blog entry, “white” refers to non-Latino whites only
** For the purpose of this blog entry, “Latino” refers to Latinos of any race and ethnicity


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Follow Eric's Blog and check out more episodes of California Fool's Gold

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Irvine, Orange County's City of Innovation

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 13, 2013 12:13pm | Post a Comment
INTRODUCTION


Irvine skyline

For a while now Irvine has shared the top spot on my poll (see the end of the post to vote) but I’ve put it off because of the time required to explore such a sprawling, distant city. There was also a time when most of my blog’s non-LA fans were Irvine residents, which intrigued me. All of my business conducted there in the past involved getting lost several times and this time would prove to be no different.



Irvine - the Dead End Capital of Orange County

Irvine is a large (170 km2 – the largest city in the county, area-wise), planned, suburban city near the center of Orange County but generally considered to be part of the South County region. In 2008, CNNMoney.com named Irvine the fourth best place to live in the country. It has topped the FBI’s list of safest American cities with populations of over 65,000 for the last eight years.

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South County


When I told people that I was writing about Irvine, most people expressed the view that -- because it's a planned community -- it's an awful, boring place. Now some of the world’s great (or at least interesting) cities are planned communities: Brasília, Islamabad, Kyoto, New Delhi, and Washington, DC. I’m not going to suggest that Irvine is on the same level as those cities but there’s something uniquely attractive and Utopian about planned cities (I know I attempted many ambitious ones whilst playing Sim City). At the same time, there's a lot that's inhuman about them – which can be attractive to if you’re into artifice. But even if one considers Irvine to be the blandest, most sterile place on earth, where there are people there is life or, as a girl from Tustin recently said when we were discussing Irvine, "Well, people like me come from places like that."


  
                      Irvine planners                                                                Aerial view of West Irvine



GEOGRAPHY and LOCATION

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Irvine

Irvine is neighbored by Tustin to the north, Santa Ana to the northwest, Costa Mesa to the west, Newport Beach to the southwest, Laguna Hills onto the southeast, and Lake Forest to the east. San Diego Creek is the city’s primary watercourse and its largest tributary is Peters Canyon Wash. Most of Irvine is situated on a broad, flat valley between Loma Ridge in the north and the San Joaquin Hills in the south although the northern annexations of previously unincorporated Orange County is characterized by its hills, plateaus and canyons.

While Irvine is undoubtedly safe, its completely planned character and restrictions seem to have effectively stifled most unofficial, unsanctioned expressions of culture and individuality. Every neighborhood (subdivisions euphemistically referred to as villages) has its chosen, specific character and the same sorts of strip malls, commercial centers, churches, schools, and parks designed to make them self-contained and cut down on unnecessary commuting. People have come up with joking mottoes for the city including "Irvine: We Have 62 Different Words for Beige," "Where Bland is in Demand," "Sixteen Zip Codes, Six Floor Plans," "Sorry, I Thought This Was My House," and "City by the Beige." It's widely referred to as "The Bubble." In 2011, the OC Register ran a story titled, "Breaking News: Non-beige homes approved in Irvine."

A side effect of this is that it’s hard for the casual explorer. How to prioritize visiting one neighborhood over another? The overall effect is very samey (in spite of the attempts at varied village identities) and center-less. Few buildings rise above two stories and from the street I continually couldn't see much besides trees, walls, and rooftops. Few things caught me eye and piqued my interest.


View of Irvine from jet pack


Since it’s so spread out and mostly flat, the best way of exploring Irvine might be by bicycle -- or jet pack. There are 454 km (282 miles) of bike lanes and 71.6 km (44.5 miles) of off-road bike trails. The city is also served by Metrolink’s Orange County Line. Additionally, since 2008, Irvine has offered four bus lines as part of its appley, sorry, aptly-named iShuttle bus service.


Irvine's iShuttle (image source: So Cal Metro)

IRVINE SKYLINE

There are a few taller buildings. The tallest building in Irvine (and third tallest building in Orange County) is the 20-story Park Place Tower, completed in 2007. The previously tallest building in Irvine, the 19-story Jamboree Center, was completed in 1990. The third tallest skyscraper is the 14-story Opus Center Irvine II, completed in 2002. The fourth tallest structure is the 17-story Waterfield Tower, completed in 1987. The Irvine Marriott is also 17-stories and the 2600 Michelson is 16 stories.


As with everywhere, there is culture in Irvine, though it seems to occur in a controlled manner in pre-determined locations. Finding it was a challenge but one I relished undertaking. After all, when the OC Weekly trots out its annual “Best of OC” lists, Irvine always takes a lot -- maybe most -- of the honors.

First a bit of history…

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ANTIQUITY TO THE MEXICAN ERA


Ranchos of Orange County, California


Archaeological evidence suggests that the area now occupied by  Irvine has been inhabited for between 12,000 – 18,000 years. Around 2,000 years ago the Tongva arrived from the Sonoran Desert to the east. Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portolà arrived in 1769 and claimed the land for Spain. In 1821, Mexico gained independence from Spain and secularized the Spanish ranchos. Portions of three of the ranches – Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana, Rancho San Joaquin and Rancho Lomas de Santiago – would later become Irvine Ranch.


Map showing Irvine Ranch


EARLY AMERICAN ERA

In 1848, the Mexican-American War ended with Mexico’s defeat and California was admitted to the Union in 1850. In 1864, a calamitous drought convinced Rancho San Joaquin’s owner, the extravagant Jose Andres Sepulveda, to sell 200 km2 to Benjamin and Thomas Flint, Llewellyn Bixby, and Irish immigrant James Irvine (whose portion was by far the largest). In 1866, the group purchased the 190 km2 Rancho Lomas de Santiago. In 1868, lands of Ranch Santiago de Santa Ana were divided among the group, which founded Irvine Ranch as a sheep operation. Irvine Ranch’s lands included those of modern day Irvine as well as most of Newport Beach (aside from Newport Bay), Crystal Cove and Laguna Coast wildernesses, and more surrounding land.


James Irvine house, built in 1868 (image source: Irvine Historical Society)

Irvine commissioned a home to be built in 1868. It was ultimately demolished in 1961. Today, the oldest building on Irvine Ranch (built around 1877) is home to the Irvine Historical Museum and the Irvine Historical Society (established in 1977). Today the building is the oldest wooden home between Anaheim and San Diego

In 1876, after another devastating drought, James Irvine bought his partners’ interests. Irvine died in 1886. In 1887, the Santa Fe Railroad (actually the San Bernardino and San Diego Railroad subsidiary) extended its line south to Fallbrook Junction and a station was added on Irvine Ranch. In 1888, Orange County split from Los Angeles County. Irvine’s son, James Irvine, Jr, incorporated his father’s holdings as The Irvine Company when he inherited it on his 25th birthday, in 1892. He later began shifting the ranching focus from sheep to cattle. He also oversaw the diversification of the ranch's agriculture by planting olives, citrus crops, and lima beans. Irvine also began subdividing some of the land and allowing tenant farmers to work it.



THE VILLAGE OF MYFORD 


Irvine Service Station (source: First American)


Around 1909 a town arose around the new stop named Myford (“Irvine” was already taken by a stop and town in Calaveras County, named after another Irvine in the family), after Irvine’s son when houses began to appear. A blacksmith’s had been built in 1888. In 1889 a barely warehouse was constructed, as was Myford’s first school. The Irvine General Store was added in 1912 after proprietor Kate Munger finally convinced Irvine to allow her to do so over his objections that working was unladylike. In 1913, the Irvine Hotel was built behind the general store. 



The Irvine Hotel (source: First American)



TOMATO SPRINGS BANDIT

In 1912, a drifter named Joe Matlock asked Irvine Ranch resident William Cook for work and was told that there was none. He later returned and tied up Cook's thirteen-year-old daughter and attacked his sixteen-year-old daughter. He then retreated to Tomato Springs (now Portola Springs) and a posse was formed to pursue him. The next morning he forced a rancher at gun point to feed him. When the posse caught up with him, Matlock killed deputy sheriff Robert Squire after shooting him six times. Three other deputies were shot and wounded before Matlock was felled, most likely by his own hand. Unrecognized, his corpse was paraded around Santa Ana before his identity was discovered. It turned out he was son of a onetime Eugene, Oregon mayor. He was buried as Ira Jones to save his father from embarrassment.



EARLY IRVINE


Railroad passing through Irvine with bean packing plant (source: Dissent the Blog)

In 1914, after the death of William Irvine (the Irvine that the Irvine in Calaveras County was named after), that town was renamed Carson Hill. Soon after, the residents of Myford renamed their town Irvine. By the 1920s, the Venta Spur of the railroad shipped citrus from the many then-new processing plants in what’s now Northwood to the rest of the county. (The plants began to close in the 1970s and the line was finally abandoned in 1985 and converted to a bike trail in 1999. Another railroad spur, the Irvine Industrial Spur, is also currently being considered for conversion to bike path.) A second school was built in 1929 and the original school became a community hall. The second school was later destroyed by arson.


Irvine Ranch Historic Park avocado grove



Irvine Ranch Historic Park buildings -- tenant housing?



EL TORO 



The Marine Corps Air Station El Toro circa 1947


During World War II, 4,000 acres of lima bean fields (Irvine was once the world’s largest producer of the legume) government for the establishment of the MCAS El Toro and the Tustin Marine Base. The loss of land to military bases, the loss of farmers to the war and the resultant changing tax base marked the end of Irvine’s agricultural period. James Irvine, Jr, died in 1947 aged 80. At that time, Myford assumed the presidency of the Irvine Company and began allowing for limited urban developments of select areas.


JAMBOREE ROAD


Jamboree Road


In 1953, Irvine Ranch hosted the Boy Scouts’ third National Jamboree in what’s now Newport Beach. Jamboree Road, which connects Orange to Newport Beach, was thus named in honor of the event. On 11 January 1959, Myford Irvine commit suicide by shooting himself with a .22 revolver, first in the abdomen and then the head.


UC IRVINE



After Myford’s unexpected suicide, the University of California asked The Irvine Company for 4 km2 on which to build a new campus. Most of the land was basically donated (sold for $1) and an additional 2 km2 were purchased for a larger amount. University of California Irvine (UCI) opened in 1965 and is the second newest of the University of California’s campus, after the one in Merced. The UCI campus includes many of Irvine’s most interesting attractions. There’s Aldrich Park, Anteater Recreation Center, Beall Center for Art & Technology, Bren Events Center, CAC Gallery, Irvine Arboretum, Irvine Barclay Theatre, Room Gallery, The Hill, University Art Gallery, and the University Club. In 1967, famous photographer Ansel Adams photographed the campus, designed by futurist architect William Pereira -- best known for designing LACMA and later, San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid. (Click here to see a slide show of both Adams's photos and recreations called In Ansel Adams' Footsteps).

OTHER SCHOOLS IN IRVINE

Nowadays UCI is joined in the field of academia by Brandman University, Concordia University, Irvine Valley College, the Orange County Center of the University of Southern California, and satellite campuses of Alliant International University, California State University Fullerton, University of La Verne, Chicago School of Professional Psychology-Irvine, and Pepperdine University


BIRTH OF A CITY


Ray Watson (in black hat) on the Irvine Ranch (source: Raymond L. Watson Papers) 


In the 1960s, Irvine Ranch employee Raymond Watson and the UCI’s consulting architect, William Pereira, drew up plans for a 50,000 population City of Irvine to surround the new school. The small agricultural town (formerly Myford) that had grown up around the train station and post office was re-named East Irvine. The early "villages" (again, Irvine's designation for neighborhoods) included Culverdale (now Westpark), El Camino Real, NorthwoodTurtle Rock, University Park, and Walnut. They were all incorporated along with Irvine on 28, December, 1971 with a combined population of about 10,000 people. Science-Fiction fan and idealist Pereira was quoted as saying of the planners' approach “An ounce of farsighted planning is worth a pound of urban renewal a generation hence.” 


William L. Pereira amongst renderings


OTHER IRVINE VILLAGES

Watson described each of the villages as “a series of pearls, each special in its own way.” Although obviously a booster of his planned community, the neighborhoods are all close to numerous recreational features like lakes, parks and open spaces as well as schools and shopping centers. A few, like Turtle Rock, are named after the natural features around which they are built.

Nowadays other villages include College Park, Columbus Grove, Deerfield, El Camino Glen, Greentree, Harvard Square, Heritage Fields, Irvine Groves, Irvine Spectrum (yes, the big mall is a village), Laguna Altura, Lambert Ranch, Northpark, Northpark Square, Oak Creek, Old Towne Irvine, Orangetree, Orchard Hills, Park Lane, Parkside, Planning Area 40, Portola Springs, Quail Hill, Racquet Club, Rancho San Joaquin, Rosegate, Shady Canyon, Stonegate, The Colony, The Ranch, The Willows, Turtle Ridge, University Hills, University Town Center, West Irvine, Windwood, Woodbridge, Woodbury, and Woodbury East.


Grand entrance into one of Irvine's currently-under-construction villages


Entry into each village is marked by triumphal arches with unused seating areas, towers, gates, or sections of walls that monumentalize the mundane – the same way Irvine does its shopping centers. This kind of architectural practice isn't unique to Irvine. I’ve seen many mid-century apartments with Polynesian elements billed with names like “The Sleepy Lagoon” or mock Tudor complexes named things like “Cavalier Arms Manor” or what have you. I often amuse myself with the hoity-toity names of banal strip malls... but Irvine does it on an almost Disney/Vegas/Dubai scale with a lack of whimsy that suggests to me a completely straight face. 


IRVINE IN ITS SECOND DECADE


  
                                       Wild Rivers                                                                      The Marketplace - Irvine


The population of Irvine surpassed the planned 50,000 figure in its first decade of existence and surpassed 62,000 by 1980. That decade witnessed the formation of several new institutions. The Ayn Rand Institute was founded in 1985, three years after the founder of Objectivism’s death. Rand had earlier founded The Foundation for the New Intellectual but it was dissolved when the ARI was founded. A year after the ARI was established, the water park Wild Rivers opened on the site of the former Lion Country Safari, a drive-through zoo. Following the expiration of its lease with the The Irvine Company, it closed in 2011 but after a sale, is set to reopen in 2014. In 1988, the Irvine Company opened The Marketplace, a mall that straddles the border of Irvine and Tustin. It was designed by my least favorite architect (nothing personal), Ricardo Legorreta. Legorreta also designed the Camino Real Hotel in Mexico. Angelenos are probably more familiar with his brutalist/post-modern hybrid structures in Downtown's Pershing Square.


IRVINE AT THE END OF THE CENTURY

1990 saw Irvine’s population pass the 100,000 mark. A sort of downtown was constructed to serve the surging population, the Irvine Spectrum Center.

IRVINE SPECTRUM CENTER


Moroccan minaret at the mall - a muezzin makes the call to shop five times a day




Before there were similar outdoor mall/ersatz downtowns like Fairfax's The Grove, Glendale's The Americana, Monterey Park's Atlantic Times Square, or San Gabriel's The San Gabriel Square and there was The Irvine Spectrum Center. The first part of it opened in 1995, when most suburbs were still in love with indoor malls. The final phase was completed in 2006. As with Irvine's villages, different areas of the mall have different architectural themes. There's also a merry-go-round, a Ferris wheel, and in winter, an ice skating rink.





HAN TWINS MURDER CONSPIRACY


Intro to Evil Twins (including tacky "Asian" music)

The other big news of the '90s was the so-called Han Twins Murder Conspiracy. In November, 1996, Jeena Han supposedly conspired to murder her twin sister, Sunny. The Han sisters were born in South Korea and moved to Orange County when they were twelve with their mother, Boo I. Kim. Kim was a cocktail waitress and compulsive gambler who left the girls to fend for themselves sometimes for days at a time. After being sent to live with an uncle, they became co-valedictorians at their high school in Campo. After high school, however, their lives both went pear-shaped, culminating in a sensational series of events covered on an A&E documentary, Sister Against Sister: The Twin Murder Plot (1999), The Investigators episode "Evil Twin" (2001), the Snapped episode “Jeena Han” (2005), and the pilot episode of the Investigation Discovery show, Evil Twins. Meanwhile, the sisters have reconciled and many mostly Korean-Americans (including Sunny) have attempted to secure Jeena's freedom -- some apparently chalking up the whole affair to so-called "K Rage."


21st CENTURY IRVINE


Orange County Great Park hot air balloon 


After a decline in Irvine’s growth in the 1990s, it once again increased in the 2000s. In 2003, the 19 km2 of land occupied by the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro (until 1999) was re-annexed by Irvine. It is currently being transformed into Orange County Great Park which will, when completed, be Orange County’s largest municipal park. Since 2007, visitors can visit and board a hot air balloon that climbs 500 feet into the air.


THE BIOFERM SHOOTING

High profile crime returned to Irvine in 2000 when the Biofem, Inc’s chief executive, James Patrick Riley, was shot in the face at the firm's offices by a masked gunman who sped away in a van that turned out to be owned by Dino D’Saachs. Phone records showed that D’Saachs had spoken with one of Riley’s co-workers, Larry Creed Ford, that morning. After the police questioned Ford about the crime he commit suicide at his home in the Woodbridge village. A suicide note professed his innocence but added that there were things of interest to the police in his home. Upon investigation, the authorities discovered vessels buried in his yard containing C-4 and assault rifles. His refrigerator contained 266 bottles and vials of pathogens including Clostridium tetani and Clostridum difficile. It turned out that the company were close to developing a new female contraceptive and also had ties to South Africa’s biological weapons program. Suffice to say, it was all very odd. (Read a much more in-depth account here).


NEW HOUSES OF WORSHIP


Pao Fa Temple (image source: Anita L.)


Pao Fa Temple (寶法寺), one of the largest Buddhist monasteries and temples in the US, opened in 2002. It was founded by Taiwanese abbot, Venerable Jen-Yi (真一法師), on advice he received from Venerable Master Hsuan Hua of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas back in 1990.


The Islamic Center of Irvine (source: Tashfeen B.)


The Islamic Center of Irvine was founded in 2004. It’s one of the largest Muslim congregations in California. A con man from Tustin, Craig Monteilh, claimed to have spied on the congregation on behalf of the FBI. The story was covered on PRI’s This American Life episode, “The Convert.”


IRVINE TODAY

The most recent population estimate, that of the California Department of Finance, estimates it to be 223,729. One time Irvine resident Zack De La Rocha (of Rage Against the Machine) once raged against Irvine, stating that it was "one of the most racist cities imaginable. If you were a Mexican in Irvine, you were there because you had a broom or a hammer in your hand." De La Rocha moved there in 1971, when the population was barely over 10,000 and the racial demographics were very different. Today Irvine is a fairly diverse city with a population that is roughly 45% non-Latino white, 40% Asian, 9% Latino, and 2% black.

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ARTS & CULTURE IN IRVINE


Performers at the Irvine Global Village Festival 


The most celebrated cultural event in Irvine is the Irvine Global Village Festival, which takes place every annually and celebrates the ethnic diversity of Irvine’s populace. It began in 1998 as the Multicultural Festival and took its current name in 2001.


Outside the Irvine Fine Arts Center


Artists' Tales - Erin Dunn exhibit


Inside the Irvine Fine Arts Center

I actually started my exploration of Irvine at the Irvine Fine Arts Center. It opened in 1980 and offers both exhibition and education spaces. On the day that I visited the exhibit was titled “Artists’ Tales” (although the sign above the entrance said “Artist’s Tales.” It was a group exhibit featuring installations, video art, drawings, paintings, mixed media pieces, dioramas, sculptures and more from Erin Dunn, Kristi Kent, Nathan Margoni, and Siobhan McClure. In a classroom, adult students were busy making their own art.


PARKS


Heritage Park 


After I left the Arts Center I strolled around Heritage Park, on which it is located. There was a multitude of Canada Geese and other species of goose as well as a large variety of ducks, and therefore an astonishing amount of guano to dodge. Heritage Park is a community park and includes the Heritage Park Community Center.


Heritage Park Community Center


The center is home to swimming pools, soccer fields, tennis courts, racquetball courts, grills, play areas, basketball courts, concession stands and (with reservation only) bounce houses.


Northwood Community Park soccer fields


Whatever criticisms one might have of Irvine, it is decidedly not park-poor. In addition to Heritage Park there is Alton Athletic Park, Colonel Bill Barber Marine Corps Memorial Park, Deerfield Community Park (which includes a nine-hole Frisbee golf course), Harvard Athletic Park, Harvard Skatepark, Hicks Canyon Park, Jeffrey Open Space Trail, Lakeview Senior Center, Las Lomas Community Park, Lower Peters Canyon Community Park, Northwood Community Park, Oak Creek Community Park, Portola Springs Community Park, Quail Hill Community Park, Rancho Senior Center, Turtle Rock Community Park, University Community Park, Windrow Community Park, Woodbridge Community Park, and Woodbury Community Park.


Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial


Northwood Park includes the Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial – the first war memorial erected in the country before the wars in question were over. In 2010 it listed the names of over 5,700 Americans who’ve died in the current military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s updated with the names of more deceased soldiers yearly and I stopped by. Other public spaces not part of Irvine’s parks department include the aforementioned Aldritch Park in the UC Irvine campus, the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, and William R. Mason Regional Park.

There are also, by design, neighborhood parks (as opposed to the aforementioned public, community parks) for the various villages including Alderwood Park, Blue Gum Park, Brywood Park, Canyon Park, Carrotwood Park, Chaparral Park, Citrusglen Park, College Park, Comstock Park, Coralwood Park, Creekview Park, Dovecreek Park, Flagstone Park, Hoeptner Park, Homestead Park, Knollcrest Park, Meadowood Park, Orchard Park, Pepperwood Park, Pinewood Park, Plaza Park, Presley Park, Racquet Club Park, Ranch Park, San Carlo Park, San Leandro Park, San Marco Park, Settler's Park, Silkwood Park, Sweet Shade Park, Sycamore Park, Trailwood Park, Valencia Park, Valley Oak Park, Willows Park, and Woodside.


LIBRARIES

Irvine has three public libraries: Heritage Park Regional Library (the collection of which is largely focused on business), University Park Library (the collection of which includes a substantial Chinese collection), and Katie Wheeler Library. Most of UCI’s libraries are open to the public as well.


Katie Wheeler Library


On the day of my visit I checked out the latter. Katie Wheeler was the granddaughter of James Irvine and the library is a replica of the home in which she grew up. I tried to glean what I could from the book Irvine Ranch – different by design: images 1960 – 2000 but couldn’t dally because I still had much ground to cover and the December day was short.


PERFORMING ARTS


The marquee of the Irvine Improv


There aren’t many proper music venues for a city of Irvine’s size. There’s the whimsically-named Verizon Wireless Ampitheatre (opened as Irvine Meadows in 1981) and performers sometimes pop in at Bacchus' Secret Cellar Wine Shoppe and Bar but that seems to be about it. Irvine Barclay Theatre & Cheng Hall and Irvine Valley College Performing Arts Center both feature a wider array of performing arts. As far as proper theater there’s New Swan Theater. As far as dinner theater, there’s the annual Madrigal Dinner at UCI’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts. For comedy there's the Irvine Improv.



Emily Sassy Lime from Sadie Shaw on Vimeo.

Japan Film Festival Los Angeles

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 8, 2011 03:33pm | Post a Comment

The Japan Film Festival Los Angeles gets underway today with screenings in Hollywood, Irvine and Little Tokyo and goes until April 17th. Directors Kinshiro Ogino, Katsuhito Kobayashi, Kenji Kobayashi, Lisa Takeba, Hidetaka Inazuka and producer Shoichi Kawahara are scheduled to appear at various events. Click here to check out the website for scheduling, tickets and plot descriptions.

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