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It was founded in 1887 by George and Edward Amerige and named for George H. Fullerton, who secured the land on behalf of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Historically it was a center of agriculture, notably groves of Valencia oranges and other citrus crops; petroleum extraction; transportation; and manufacturing. It is home to several educational institutions, notably the California State University, Fullerton.
Evidence of prehistoric animal habitation, such as saber-toothed cats and mammoths, is present in Ralph B. Clark Regional Park in the northwest of the city. Europeans first passed through the area in 1769 when Gaspar de Portolà led an expedition north to establish Mission San Gabriel Arcangel, after whom the local Native American population were dubbed the Gabrieliños. The land later became part of Rancho San Juan Cajón de Santa Ana, granted to Juan Pacifico Ontiveros, a Spanish soldier.
Ontiveros began to sell parcels of the Rancho to settlers flooding California in the aftermath of the 1849 Gold Rush, including Massachusetts native Abel Stearns. In the 1860s, Stearns sold in turn to Domingo Bastanchury, a Basque shepherd.
In 1886 while in the area on a duck hunting vacation, Malden brothers George and Edward Amerige, heard rumors that the California Central Railroad, a subsidiary of the Santa Fe Railway, was looking for land. Sensing opportunity, they arranged to buy 430 acres (1.7 km²) north of Anaheim for approximately $68,000.
They then began negotiations with George H. Fullerton, president of the Pacific Land and Improvement Company, also a Santa Fe subsidiary. They offered free right-of-way and half interest in the land to the railroad if Fullerton's survey were revised to include the proposed town site, and on July 5, 1887 Edward Amerige formally staked his claim at what is now the intersection of Harbor Boulevard and Commonwealth Avenue.
In 1894 Charles Chapman, a retired Chicago publisher and a descendant of John "Johnny Appleseed" Chapman, purchased an orange orchard in eastern Fullerton. The Valencia variety of oranges he promoted from his Santa Ysabel Ranch, well suited to the local climate, proved a boon to producers; Fullerton boasted more orange groves than any other municipality in the United States. Cultivation of walnuts and avocados also flourished, and the Western railroad town became an agricultural center. Fullerton incorporated in 1904.
Drilling for petroleum began in 1880 with the discovery of the Brea-Olinda Oil Field and fueled the first real boom, peaking in the 1920s. Construction reflected the vogue for Spanish Colonial and Italian Renaissance-inspired architecture, as in the historic Fox Fullerton Theatre (erected 1925); the home of Walter and Adella Muckenthaler, designed by Frank Benchley (erected 1924); and the city's chief landmark, the Plummer Auditorium and clock tower (erected 1930). Fullerton College was established at its present location at Chapman Avenue and Lemon Street in 1913. Meanwhile, the city banned all overnight street parking in 1924— a law enforced to the present day.
Significant public works projects were constructed during this period, including the conversion of a southwestern sewer farm into Fullerton Municipal Airport at the behest of Placentia ranchers and aviators William and Robert Dowling in 1927.
Through the mid-1900s the economy shifted toward food processing rather than food production, as well as manufacturing; southeastern Fullerton became an industrial center. Val Vita Food Products (later Hunt Wesson and today part of ConAgra Foods, Inc.) began operating a citrus juice plant in western Fullerton in 1932. By 1941 it had become the largest food processing company in the US. In 1934 A.W. Leo, Tom Yates and Ralph Harrison developed the first Hawaiian Punch recipe in a converted garage in Fullerton. The city also became a producer of aerospace equipment, electrical and electronic components, navigation systems, and laboratory instruments.
In 1949 Dick Riedel and Bill Barris piloted the Sunkist Lady, a modified Aeronca Sedan, out of the Fullerton airport to set an endurance flight record of 1,008 hours and 2 minutes.
Also in 1949, Fullerton was the setting in which Leo Fender developed and refined the design of the Fender Telecaster, a guitar which would later be used among some of the greatest musicians of the 20th and 21st Century. Among them: Keith Richards, Joe Strummer, Waylon Jennings, Dwight Yoakam, Greg Camp, Jimmy Page, Kurt Cobain, and many others.
To serve the growing population, the California State Legislature authorized Orange County State College in 1957, which began operating out of Fullerton high schools in 1959. In 1963, it moved to its present campus on State College Boulevard, and later, after several name-changes, was finally redesignated California State University, Fullerton. Other institutions followed, earning Fullerton a reputation as an "Education City." The Fullerton Arboretum, a 26 acre (105,000 m²) botanical garden, opened in the northeastern part of the city adjacent the campus in 1979.
Manufacturing growth leveled off as ever-soaring property prices, increasing environmental regulation, traffic, and other pressures increased. By the late 20th century the city had lost much of its rural character in favor of suburban housing tracts and shopping centers.
The first years of the 21st century have seen several political issues played out against a backdrop of class division (between the more affluent northern and western parts of the city and the southern portion of the city, which borders Anaheim), rapidly diminishing supplies of undeveloped land, and demographic changes (including the influx of Asian and Latino immigrants into an area previously dominated by Caucasians).
As in many cities, growth and development are contentious issues. In the 1990s, the downtown commercial district had become economically depressed, and was known mainly for being an area of sleepy antique stores and small shops. A symbol of downtown's problems was the Fox Theatre, a local landmark, which had fallen into disrepair. As of November 2004, a fundraising drive had accumulated sufficient funds to buy the theater, but not yet enough money to restore it. By 2006, restoration was started. During this same period, the downtown area, especially south of Commonwealth Avenue, has become more of a busy entertainment district, described by the OC Weekly as "Bourbon Street West." In less than five years, some 30 businesses that sell alcohol have opened, making the downtown area much more active at night. With the festive atmosphere have come problems such as public drunkenness, fights and a shortage of parking; a police task force last year has addressed some of these problems.
There is a proposal to develop the Coyote Hills area, the last undeveloped area in the city. This controversial issue has pitted local environmentalists and slow-growth activists (who argue that the city should seek state funding to buy the area and make into a park) against the pro-business and pro-growth City Council. There are also plans to build approximately 300 condominiums or apartments downtown, leading to more density.
The 293-acre (1.19 km2) Hughes Aircraft Company's Ground Systems Group campus in western Fullerton was redeveloped into a major new residential and commercial district, called Amerige Heights, in 2001–2004. This development was accompanied by extreme shifts in neighborhood property values, first dropping precipitously in the late 1980s to early 1990s as the former Hughes employees sold their houses, and then rising rapidly as part of a general increase in real estate values throughout Orange County.
Fullerton is located at . It is approximately 25 miles (40 km) southeast of downtown Los Angeles, and approximately 11 miles (18 km) north-northwest of Santa Ana, the county seat. The city has a mean elevation of 150 feet (46 m) and lies approximately 11 miles (18 km) northeast of the Pacific Ocean straight-line distance. It has a Mediterranean climate, with a mean temperature of 62.2 degrees Fahrenheit (16.8 °C).(33.879914, -117.928749)
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 57.6 km² (22.2 mi²). 57.5 km² (22.2 mi²) of it is land and 0.1 km² (0.04 mi²) of it (0.14%) is water.
The flat downtown area is laid out in a grid plan centered at the intersection of Harbor Boulevard and Commonwealth Avenue. After recent renewal and beautification projects, it has attracted specialty stores, coffee shops, and restaurants, and has uncharacteristically retained much of its downtown character. Southeastern Fullerton is historically the industrial sector, and is home to small manufacturing, particularly east of Raymond Street and south of Commonwealth.
The northern and western reaches of Fullerton are dominated by the Coyote Hills, a low-lying mountain range divided into the East Coyote Hills and West Coyote Hills; the lands nestled to their south and west are known as Sunny Hills. For most of the city’s history these areas were groves of citrus trees, open scrubland, and oil fields. While equestrian trails and many old estates endure along Bastanchury Road, the meandering roads through these areas today mostly connect a succession of housing tract subdivisions and commercial developments. In recent years, the City Council has tried to allow development in the remaining open land throughout the city. The most notable impending project, in West Coyote Hills, has been met with opposition by some of the citizens in the area.
Fullerton is a general law city with a council-manager government system. Legislative authority is vested in a City Council of five non-partisan members who serve four-year staggered terms, who elect a chair who serves as mayor but hire a professional city manager for day-to-day operations. All Council seats are elected at large. Elections are held every two years and are consolidated with the statewide general elections held in November of even numbered years.
As of July 2009 there were 69,791 registered voters in the city:
Fullerton has historically favored conservative Republicans in state and federal elections. In the state legislature Fullerton is located in the 33rd and 34th Senate Districts, represented by Republican Mimi Walters and Democrat Lou Correa, and in the 72nd Assembly District, represented by Republican Chris Norby. Federally, Fullerton is located in California's 40th and 47th congressional districts, which have Cook PVIs of R +8 and D +5 respectively and are represented by Republican Ed Royce and Democrat Loretta Sanchez respectively.
There are five public high schools within the city limits, all part of the Fullerton Joint Union High School District:
There are three public junior high schools, enrolling grades 7-8: Ladera Vista, Nicolas, and D. Russell Parks Junior High School.
Fullerton has seventeen public elementary schools enrolling grades K-6, and in some cases K-8: Acacia, Beechwood (K-8), Commonwealth, Fern Drive, Fisler (K-8), Golden Hill, Hermosa Drive, Laguna Road, Maple, Orangethorpe, Pacific Drive, Raymond, Richman, Rolling Hills, Sunset Lane, Valencia Park, and Woodcrest.
Fullerton is home to a vibrant music scene. It was a center for the Orange County hardcore punk music scene, producing acts such as The Adolescents, Agent Orange, Social Distortion, and TSOL. Gwen Stefani, lead vocalist of the alternative rock group No Doubt, was a student at CSUF and the group performed there regularly. Other popular groups from the area include The Offspring and Lit. The popular singer-songwriter Jackson Browne also attended Sunny Hills High School in the city.
Contributing greatly to Fullerton's musical heritage was the Fender musical instrument company, whose products such as the Stratocaster and Telecaster electric guitars, Precision Bass bass guitar, and Twin Reverb guitar amplifier revolutionized the music business and contributed greatly to the development of rock and roll. (A list of notable rock performers who did not use a Fender product at some point in their careers would be very short.) Leo Fender sold the company to CBS in 1964; production continued in the Fullerton plant until 1985, when the then-ruined company was sold to a group of private investors. (It was later reconstituted as Fender Musical Instrument Corporation, with its major production facilities in neighboring Corona and across the US-Mexico border in Ensenada, Baja California, and its headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona.) In 1980, Leo Fender and his original partner George Fullerton (relation to the Fullerton founder of the same name unknown) reunited and started a new company, G&L (George and Leo) Guitars, which currently occupies the old Fender factory in Fullerton.
The Muckenthaler Cultural Center on Malvern Avenue near Euclid Avenue houses art galleries and a theater group. The former estate of the Muckenthaler family, it was donated to the city by Harold Muckenthaler in 1965.
Fullerton is also home to the Fullerton Public Library. The Main Library is located on Commonwealth Avenue in Downtown Fullerton and adjacent to the City Hall. There is also a branch library, called the Hunt Branch on Basque Avenue.
Fullerton is also home to a diverse and ever-growing theater scene. The Fullerton Civic Light Opera, one of the largest theater companies in Southern California, is based at the Plummer Auditorium. Local educational institutions, such as Fullerton College and Fullerton High School's Academy of the Arts, are the source of numerous large-scale productions. There are also several storefront theaters, including the Maverick Theater, Stages Theater and the Hunger Artists Theatre Company.
Fullerton maintains more than 50 city parks and is home to Hillcrest Park, the Craig Regional Park and Ralph B. Clark Regional Park. The Fullerton Arboretum comprises 26 acres (105,000 m²) of sculpted gardens and unusual plants in northeastern Fullerton. Additionally the city features approximately 200 acres (0.8 km²) of recreational land in the Brea Dam Recreational Area, plus an equestrian center and trails, two golf courses, a tennis center located behind St. Jude Hospital and the Janet Evans Swim Complex.
The city is also one of the few Southern California municipalities to be served by a completely independent newspaper, the Fullerton Observer. The Observer is an all-volunteer paper that is printed two times a month. It was founded in the late 1970s by Ralph Kennedy, a fair housing and civil rights activist who advocated saving Coyote Hills as open space.
There were 137,437 (CA Dept. of Finance Jan. 2008), people, 44,044 (CA Dept. of Demographic Research January 2008), and 29,610 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,191.4/km² (5,675.9/mi²). There were 44,771 housing units at an average density of 778.7/km² (2,016.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 61.89% White, 2.27% Black or African American, 0.69% Native American, 16.08% Asian, 0.23% Pacific Islander, 14.81% from other races, and 4.03% from two or more races. 30.17% of the population is Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 43,609 households out of which 33.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.8% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.1% were non-families. 23.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.83 and the average family size was 3.37.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.1% under the age of 18, 11.5% from 18 to 24, 32.3% from 25 to 44, 19.8% from 45 to 64, and 11.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 97.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $75,700 (Orange County 2005), and the median income for a family was $57,345. Males had a median income of $40,674 versus $31,677 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,370. About 8.0% of families and 11.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.6% of those under age 18 and 5.4% of those age 65 or over.
Fullerton, founded as a railroad town, is still bisected by the BNSF Railway, upon whose tracks run Amtrak trains 3 and 4, the Southwest Chief, between Chicago and Los Angeles, the Pacific Surfliner to Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Diego and Metrolink commuter rail trains. Average trip time on Metrolink or Amtrak to Los Angeles is 30 minutes.
Fullerton is crossed by three major freeways. State Route 91 runs east-to-west down the length of the city south of Orangethorpe Avenue. It intersects with Interstate 5, the Santa Ana Freeway, in the west near Magnolia Avenue and with State Route 57, the Orange Freeway, in the east near State College Boulevard.
Fullerton Municipal Airport, the only general aviation airport remaining in Orange County, located in the southwest of the city, is the last remnant of the Hughes Company in the area, which was prominent in the aerospace industry up until the 1970s. From the early 1970s through the early 1980s the airport was served by Golden West Airlines, one of the larger commuter airlines of the period.
Fire protection in Fullerton is provided by the Fullerton Fire Department with ambulance transport by Care Ambulance Service. The Fullerton Police Department provides law enforcement, while the California State University Police Department also has law enforcement jurisdiction in areas of the city near the CSU Fullerton campus.
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- Beechwood Elementary
- Maple Elementary
- Laguna Road Elementary
- Hermosa Drive Elementary
- Golden Hill Elementary
- D. Russell Parks Junior High
- Woodcrest Elementary
- Valencia Park Elementary
- Sunset Lane Elementary
- Rolling Hills Elementary
- Robert C. Fisler Elementary
- Richman Elementary
- Raymond Elementary
- Pacific Drive Elementary
- Orangethorpe Elementary
- Nicolas Junior High
- Acacia Elementary
- Fern Drive Elementary
- Commonwealth Elementary