Anaheim

More than just a Mouse...

Sights In Anaheim:

Long before Walt Disney created a home for his favorite mouse and Gene Autry placed the Angels in their outfield, Anaheim had already put down roots; grape vines to be exact.

It all began in 1857, before the county of Orange existed, when a Mother Colony was established by a group of German Immigrants from San Francisco. They called themselves the Los Angeles Vineyard Society and their goal was to create a community where they could grow grapes in the mild, Mediterranean climate of southern California.

They hired a surveyor named George Hansen to find the perfect spot, purchase the land, and then make it ready for settlement. In other words, 100 years before Irvine and Mission Viejo, Anaheim was the first master planned community in the area, built and ready before the residents moved in.

Anaheim Mosaic
George Hansen, “Father of Anaheim” and the colony he established in 1857. (courtesy of Anaheim Public Library)

The task was daunting, but eventually Hansen secured 1,165 acres of the Rancho San Juan Cajon de Santa Ana. The colonists moved in on September 12th, 1859. After initial struggles, the Anaheim Colony (named “heim” for home and “Ana” for the nearby Santa Ana River) was successfully growing grapes. Unfortunately, in the days before railroads, there was no way to get their crop to market. So a road was built to the coast and the first port in Orange County, “Anaheim Landing,” was established at Seal Beach.

Anaheim Litho
Lithograph of Anaheim Mother Colony in 1878 (Courtesy of Anaheim Public Library)

The future was bright for Anaheim until a vine disease appeared in 1884 and wiped out all of the vineyards within three years. Not willing to quit, the farmers of Anaheim planted citrus groves instead and, by 1900, the new crop became quite profitable thanks to the popularity of the Valencia orange.

Packing crate mosaic

Post War residential development squeezed out the citrus groves in the 1950’s, giving the community a suburban feel. But the biggest change to Anaheim came in 1955, when Walt Disney opened the gates to the Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland. Tourism became the main industry and soon more attractions popped up on the Anaheim landscape: The Anaheim Convention Center (1967) Angels Stadium (1966).

Anaheim 1960 Mosaic

 

 

Today, with a population of more than 345,000, Anaheim is Orange County’s most populated city.

Besides the original Mother Colony House at Founder’s Park, it’s hard to recognize the original settlement of Anaheim. Agriculture has given way to tourism, and Disneyland continues to dominate the city as its biggest employer.

Founders Park Mosaic

Anaheim is also the place that Orange County’s professional sports teams call home. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball team and the Anaheim Ducks hockey franchise are both based in the city.

Anaheim Sports

Thankfully, historic preservation is very much alive in Orange County’s oldest city. The Anaheim Packing District, located at the corner of Anaheim Blvd and Santa Ana St., is a collection of refurbished historic buildings that form a communal gathering place in the hear of downtown.

The centerpiece of the Packing DIstrict is the Packing House itself. Built in 1919, the old Sunkist packing house has been carefully restored and transformed into a two-story food hall. With more than 20 artisan eateries, live music on the weekends and a Farmer’s Market every Sunday, The Anaheim Packing District has become one of Orange County’s most popular foodie destinations.

Anaheim Packing District

 

 

 

…..Coming Soon!

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