Settled in the heart of Orange County, California, Irvine is known worldwide as one of the most sought-after communities. It boasts beautiful neighborhoods, iconic tourist attractions, top-ranked schools, pristine open spaces, as well as world-class commercial and business centers.
Irvine’s successful story grew out of the vision and hard work of many people. Its history started when James Irvine, an Irish immigrant, arrived in San Francisco during the California Gold Rush. In the mid-1800s, after briefly trying mining, Irvine discovered that there’s more money in selling goods and services to miners than hunting for gold. By his late 20s, James Irvine became one of San Francisco’s most successful merchants and soon found riches in real estate. In 1864, Irvine purchased 125,000 acres of land stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the San Bernardino County line, that became the Irvine Ranch. The land was used for farming and raising sheep until Irvine’s death, in 1886.
His son, James Harvey Irvine, started Irvine Company in 1894 to help manage the vast ranch and transformed it into the country’s largest lima bean producer. The Irvine Rach also offered acres of sugar, corn, celery, alfalfa, beets, chili peppers, potatoes, black-eyed peas, barley, avocados, walnut, lemon, and orange trees. As the farming community grew, so did the need for housing, schools, mail services, a railroad, and other daily necessities. Therefore, a town has begun to grow.
When James Harvey Irvine died in 1947, his son Myford, became the third-generation Irvine to manage the Irvine Ranch. Between 1947 and 1959, Orange County’s population grew from 200,000 to 700,000. Myford, known for his love of the social life, quickly began to steer the Irvine Ranch away from agriculture and toward commercial and residential development to capitalize on this population growth. He even spent $250,000 to host the 50th Boy Scout Jamboree. Myford died in 1959, leaving the Irvine Ranch property in the hands of Irvine Company.
Within a year, the Irvine Company announced that it would provide 1,500 acres of land to University of California’s Regents to form a campus in Irvine. The University community was designed in the shape of a wheel with schools radiating out from a central open-air space core. The architect who designed the community was also commissioned to create a plan for the Irvine Ranch.
In 1970, the Irvine Company presented the master plan for the Irvine area to Orange County. The project consisted of distinct and intimately-scaled villages, each with its own shops, schools, worship houses. The plan also called for a new city to take over governance from the county and avoid land annexation.
In December 1971, the city of Irvine was incorporated with an area of 41.6 square miles. A city council and a mayor were elected, and a city manager was hired.
Irvine is located in southern California, neighbored by Santa Ana in the northwest, Costa Mesa in the west, Newport Beach in the southwest, Lake Forest in the east, Tustin in the northwest, and Laguna Hills and Laguna Woods in the southeast.
Irvine consists of mostly flat, broad valleys that stretch between San Joaquin Hills in the south and Loma Ridge in the north. However, in its southernmost and northernmost areas, there are some picturesque canyons, hills, and plateaus. The primary watercourse that’s draining Irvine is San Diego Creek, which smoothly flows northwest, right into Upper Newport Bay.
Irvine’s layout is divided into 47 townships that are commonly called ‘villages’ and efficiently separated by six-lane streets. Each ‘village’ has similarly-designed houses, together with schools, commercial spaces, and religious institutions. The city’s commercial districts are located peripherally, around the central townships.
As Irvine is very close to the Pacific coastline, different parts of the city are subject to different microclimates. Overall, Irvine experiences the June Gloom phenomenon during late springs and early summers. This effect is characterized by overcast mornings and periodic drizzle. The June Gloom is stronger in the city’s southern parts that are closer to the Pacific Ocean.
Autumns and late summers are usually dry, with periodic humid weather bouts that are extending from Pacific hurricanes off Mexico’s west coast. Winters in Irvine are mild, with no snow, and usually without frost. When the Santa Ana wind blows, the air in the city can become dry and hot. Irvine gets, on average, 13 inches of rain per year and precipitation mainly occurs during the winter months.
Irvine’s residents and tourists have numerous leisure opportunities, as the multi-cultural city has an abundance of open spaces, museums, and entertainment centers. Irvine Ranch Land Reserve is a popular place amongst bird-watchers, hikers, and horseback riders. The Crystal Cove State Park is ideal for sunbathing, exploring its hiking trails, tide pools, and coves. Irvine Regional Park is a true heaven for nature enthusiasts.
Founded in 1993, the Irvine Museum spoils its art-loving visitors with Californian art dating back from the Impressionist period. The Great Park Baloon can be found in Orange County Great Park and offers a bird-eye view of Irvine and its surroundings, from 400 feet above the ground. Handcrafted and custom-designed in Italy, the 108-foot tall Giant Wheel is another renowned attraction that takes people for a spin and displays beautiful sceneries. Diamond Jamboree is a vibrant shopping center with a plethora of stores and various international dining places that are perfect for pleasing one’s palate. Kids won’t get bored in Irvine either, as Pretend City Children Museum will teach them about life in the real world in a very engaging manner.
Soccer fans will be excited to hear that they can often catch a game at the Orange County Soccer Club. Events like the Irvine Global Village Festival, the Annual Irvine Korean Cultural Festival, New World Flamenco Festival, the Irish Fair, the Music Festival, A Taste of Greece, the Persian New Year Festival, and the Persian Festival of Autumn are taking place every year and are a great chance to learn new things and have fun. For those who love live shows, FivePoint Amphitheatre hosts a lot of Grammy award-winning artists’ performances.
Irvine is a great city to learn, as the Irvine Unified School District is often ranked among the top educational systems in the US. There are 22 elementary schools, 5 middle schools, 4 high schools, and 1 continuation high school in Irvine. Stone Creek Elementary School, Eastshore Elementary School, Rancho San Joaquin Middle School, and Irvine High School are some of the most popular schools in the city.
University of California, Irvine is a high-rated public research university that offers a multitude of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. It was founded in 1965 and is currently Irvine’s leading employer. Established in 1976, Concordia University Irvine is another good university that offers various study options. Irvine Valley College is a renowned community college founded in 1979, part of the state’s Community Colleges System.
Irvine has been rated one of the first cities for start-up businesses. Besides that, there are numerous well-established companies headquartered in the city; Vizio, Blizzard Entertainment, In-N-Out Burger, and O’Neill are just a few examples. Moreover, Irvine’s growing economy is the reason why Orange County was among the top ten fastest growing job markets. The main industries in Irvine include manufacturing, professional services, education, healthcare, retail, finance & insurance, hospitality, and real estate.
In short, Irvine is a wonderful city to visit and live in. It’s a place with exciting things to do and amazing places to explore, with good schools, a strong economy and a well-developed infrastructure.