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Santa Ana: The Heart of Orange County

Picture of Jill Thrasher, Librarian

Jill Thrasher, Librarian

It is that time of year when Valentine’s Day decorations and advertising pop-up everywhere and the old tradition of exchanging hearts begins. The heart, as a symbol, has been used for many other types of advertising.  Interestingly many cities have described their cities as having “heart.”  Remember, the “I Love NY” slogan?  Well, as a matter of fact, at one time in Orange County, the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce also used a heart to define their city. In 1919, the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce produced a quaint little booklet, in the shape of a small orange, titled Santa Ana, California: The Heart of Orange County.  Measuring less than 6 inches wide and containing thirty-seven pages, this rare booklet in Sherman Library’s collection describes the “heart” of Santa Ana.
Cover of Santa Ana: Heart of Orange County

Created for future residents, visitors, and businesses, the booklet highlighted both the city’s beauty and financial stability.  The Heart of Orange County emphasized the miles of beautiful palm and semi-tropic trees that line Santa Ana’s streets.  Diamond-brand walnut trees, Sunkist oranges, and lemon groves could be found throughout the city.  The booklet described Santa Ana  as “a veritable paradise on earth where [people] could enjoy the myriad beauties of coastline, orchard covered plains and distant mountains.” There were outdoor activities such as the 18-hole golf course at the Orange County Country Club (located on Newport Palisades) that overlooked Newport Harbor and the Pacific Ocean.  Santa Ana’s Harbor (now Newport Harbor) only ten miles away, was promoted as a maritime playground for residents and tourists.


A page from Santa Ana: Heart of Orange County

Santa Ana offered everything a modern family in 1919 could want. The booklet promised excellent schools, water, and soil for all who lived there.  Most importantly, the  semi-tropical weather made life even easier.  “There’s a reason for living in Santa Ana, it is the land of eternal spring time.”  Yet, the main reason for living in Santa Ana–it was the “Heart of Orange County’s.”

In 1919, Santa Ana had a population of 18,000 whose economic output included the production of $12 million oranges;$10.5 million worth of sugar; and, $77 million from oil and gas.. Walnuts, lemons, beans,  and hay, were among the top revenue makers for the city of Santa Ana.  The booklet emphasised that there was money to be made in the soil within the heart of Santa Ana.


Along with economic growth, the brochure promised  a new three-story “Tourist Hotel” with eighty rooms to be built by 1920. The hotel was to host visitors and future residents.  The hotel was to encourage visitors to explore Santa Ana’s  downtown retail district that “radiates prosperity” with “modern plate glass fronts and commodious store rooms.” According to the booklet, business failures were “practically unknown.”  Again, the success was due to downtown Santa Ana being the heart of Orange County.

As you can see when you look through this booklet, the downtown area of Santa Ana and surrounding communities still have the “heart” of Orange County.