Historic Adobe Exhibit – Sherman Library and Gardens

Historic Adobe Exhibit

Orange County's Promotional Past

In the early 1870s, the towns of Santa Ana, Tustin, Orange, Westminster, and Garden Grove were developed along with a new irrigation system, using the nearby Santa Ana River. The healthy soil and pleasant climate created a strong agriculture based economy and early publicity promoted it.

By 1877, the Southern Pacific had extended its tracks from Los Angeles to Anaheim and then to Santa Ana. With this, more towns and subdivisions sprang up, and tourists and settlers began to pour into Southern California. On August 1, 1889 the County of Orange was formed. The ease of travel from Los Angeles to Orange County was promoted to encourage people to move into the area.

From 1900 to 1920, oil wells soon flooded the landscape of Orange County and brought even more residents to the area. The cities needed more labor force, which meant more housing and more advertising. Along with agriculture, oil production was touted as more reasons to move to Orange County. 

World War II was another economic explosion to Orange County cities. El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, the Seal Beach Naval Weapons station, the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base, and the Santa Ana Army Base were established. At the end of the war, many veterans decided to stay in Orange County. So, by the 1950s, many farms were replaced with tract housing. The advertising shifted again from farming to viable jobs, affordable housing, safe communities, and -once again- an ideal climate all year round. 

Master planned communities of South Orange County began their growth in the 1960s and continued into the 1990s. The marketing focused on family friendly neighborhoods, plenty of outdoor leisurely activities, and ease of travel to workplaces, local mountains, and deserts. 

Pamphlets, brochures, leaflets, fliers, and booklets were all designed to reflect the success of Orange County’s local economies, but most importantly, to convince people that Orange County is the best place to live.

1915 brochure by Orange County Chamber of Commerce
1930 map from Orange County Chamber of Commerce
Pamphlet ca. 1920 by Orange County Chamber of Commerce