History of Irvine
The history of Irvine is not a long one. In fact, today's growing city is less than 50 years old. But the Irvine region has a long and rich history, owing much to ranching, agriculture and, of course, education.

2,000+ Years Back
Archaeologists have found evidence that people inhabited the Irvine area at least 12,000 years ago. We know that the Gabrielino Indians were living in the San Joaquin Valley when Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola arrived in 1769. (In that same year, on the other side of the country, colonists first formally opposed taxation without representation in the lead up to the Revolutionary War).

Mid 1800s
Claim to the San Joaquin Valley passed from Spain to Mexico and ultimately to the United States. The land that would become the City of Irvine was divided among large ranches supporting tens of thousands of cattle and horses: Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana, Rancho San Joaquin and Rancho Lomas de Santiago.

Ultimately, through court rulings, sales and debt settlements, the ranches became the property of the Bixby, Flint and Irvine families. In 1878, James Irvine bought out his partners for $150,000, creating the great Irvine Ranch -- more than 110,000 acres stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Santa Ana River. (Read our blog post about the Irvine Ranch Historic Park.)

Late 1800s & Early 1900s
Gradually the Irvine family shifted operations from ranching to agriculture, growing mainly lima beans, though crops would ultimately include olives, barley, avocados, asparagus, strawberries and oranges.

In the late 1800s, the Santa Fe Railroad placed the "Irvine" station nearby, James Irvine, Jr. incorporated The Irvine Company, and a town slowly grew up around the agricultural center, what is now the preserved area just off of I-5 known as Old Town Irvine.

Mid 1900s
Beginning in 1942, the great mass of land that had been devoted to ranching and farming for 100+ years began to diversify when The Irvine Company sold parcels of land to the U.S. government for two Marine Corps Air Stations. In 1960, the Irvine Company sold the University of California 1,000 acres for a new "Irvine" campus (UCI) at the hefty price of $1, and Irvine's modern history was born.

1970 & Beyond
Beginning in 1970, the Irvine Company would oversee plans to transform 43 square miles of undeveloped land near the new UCI campus into a master-planned community of 50,000 people. Houses and neighborhoods took the place of crops as Irvine became California's fastest-growing city.

And while the city now supports a thriving community of more than 214,000, Irvine will always be graced with a very special legacy of its founding family: nearly 60,000 acres of wild-lands and parks designated as permanent open space throughout Orange County.

Old Town Irvine
Old Town Irvine stands today as a testament to the rich agricultural past of what has become one of California's most heavily urban counties. Founded in 1887 as the distribution and storage center of the 125,000-acre Irvine ranch, Old Town Irvine was to develop over the years a bean and grain storage warehouse (1895) and granary (1947) known as the Irvine Bean and Grain Grower's Building, a blacksmith's shop (1916), a hotel (1913), a general store (1911), and an employees' bungalow (1915). All of these structures have been rehabilitated for commercial uses and their exteriors have been painstakingly maintained.

Based on information from California Regional Multiple Listing Service, Inc. as of May 28, 2020 4:38:pm. This information is for your personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties you may be interested in purchasing. Display of MLS data is usually deemed reliable but is NOT guaranteed accurate by the MLS. Buyers are responsible for verifying the accuracy of all information and should investigate the data themselves or retain appropriate professionals. Information from sources other than the Listing Agent may have been included in the MLS data. Unless otherwise specified in writing, Broker/Agent has not and will not verify any information obtained from other sources. The Broker/Agent providing the information contained herein may or may not have been the Listing and/or Selling Agent.