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Aliso Viejo  Statistics

  People QuickFacts Aliso Viejo California
  Population, 2013 estimate 3,114,363 38,332,521
  Population, 2012 estimate 3,085,355 37,999,878
  Population, 2010 (April 1) estimates base 3,010,232 37,253,959
  Population, percent change, April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013 3.5% 2.9%
  Population, percent change, April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012 2.5% 2.0%
  Population, 2010 3,010,232 37,253,956
  Persons under 5 years, percent, 2012 6.3% 6.7%
  Persons under 20 years, percent, 2012 23.8% 24.3%
  Persons 65 years and over, percent, 2012 12.3% 12.1%
  Female persons, percent, 2012 50.5% 50.3%
  White alone, percent, 2012 (a) 74.5% 73.7%
  Black or African American alone, percent, 2012 (a) 2.0% 6.6%
  American Indian and Alaska Native alone, percent, 2012 (a) 1.1% 1.7%
  Asian alone, percent, 2012 (a) 18.9% 13.9%
  Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone, percent, 2012 (a) 0.4% 0.5%
  Two or More Races, percent, 2012 3.2% 3.6%
  Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2012 (b) 34.1% 38.2%
  White alone, not Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2012 43.1% 39.4%
  Living in same house 1 year & over, percent, 2008-2012 84.9% 84.2%
  Foreign born persons, percent, 2008-2012 30.5% 27.1%
  Language other than English spoken at home, pct age 5+, 2008-2012 45.2% 43.5%
  High school graduate or higher, percent of persons age 25+, 2008-2012 83.6% 81.0%
  Bachelor's degree or higher, percent of persons age 25+, 2008-2012 36.6% 30.5%
  Veterans, 2008-2012 136,611 1,952,910
  Mean travel time to work (minutes), workers age 16+, 2008-2012 26.1 27.1
  Housing units, 2012 1,052,521 13,707,386
  Homeownership rate, 2008-2012 59.3% 56.0%
  Housing units in multi-unit structures, percent, 2008-2012 34.0% 30.9%
  Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2008-2012 $537,600 $383,900
  Households, 2008-2012 990,266 12,466,331
  Persons per household, 2008-2012 3.01 2.93
  Per capita money income in past 12 months (2012 dollars), 2008-2012 $34,233 $29,551
  Median household income, 2008-2012 $75,566 $61,400
  Persons below poverty level, percent, 2008-2012 11.7% 15.3%
    Business QuickFacts Aliso Viejo California
  Private nonfarm establishments, 2011 86,473 849,3161
  Private nonfarm employment, 2011 1,300,673 12,698,4271
  Private nonfarm employment, percent change, 2010-2011 2.2% 1.3%1
  Nonemployer establishments, 2011 267,452 2,887,014
  Total number of firms, 2007 329,380 3,425,510
  Black-owned firms, percent, 2007 1.3% 4.0%
  American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned firms, percent, 2007 1.0% 1.3%
  Asian-owned firms, percent, 2007 19.2% 14.9%
  Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander-owned firms, percent, 2007 0.3% 0.3%
  Hispanic-owned firms, percent, 2007 12.4% 16.5%
  Women-owned firms, percent, 2007 28.4% 30.3%
  Manufacturers shipments, 2007 ($1000) 49,131,942 491,372,092
  Merchant wholesaler sales, 2007 ($1000) 97,963,621 598,456,486
  Retail sales, 2007 ($1000) 45,022,513 455,032,270
  Retail sales per capita, 2007 $15,221 $12,561
  Accommodation and food services sales, 2007 ($1000) 8,247,828 80,852,787
  Building permits, 2012 6,082 58,549
  Geography QuickFacts Aliso Viejo California
  Land area in square miles, 2010 790.57 155,779.22
  Persons per square mile, 2010 3,807.7 239.1
  FIPS Code 059 06
  Metropolitan or Micropolitan Statistical Area Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA Metro Area

Aliso Viejo  History

The first people to live in Aliso Viejo came here thousands of years ago. They lived by hunting and fishing and gathering the plants and seeds. When the first Spanish explorers arrived, they found two native groups here. They called the Acjachemen people in the southern part of the county the Juaneño, and the Tongva people to the north the Gabrielino.

In 1769, Spain sent Catholic missionaries and Spanish soldiers to colonize California. Don Gaspar de Portolá led the first overland expedition through Aliso Viejo that summer. In 1771, Father Junípero Serra founded Mission San Gabriel in what is now Los Angeles County. Five years later, on November 1, 1776, Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded. The two missions laid claim to much of what would become Aliso Viejo, grazing cattle, horses, and sheep here until the 1830s.

In 1784, Manuel Nieto, a retired Spanish soldier, was granted grazing rights between the Santa Ana and San Gabriel rivers. Around 1800, Juan Pablo Grijalva began running cattle south and east of the Santa Ana River; in 1810 his son-in-law, José Antonio Yorba, and his grandson, Juan Pablo Peralta, received a formal concession to the land that became known as the Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana.

Mexico broke away from Spain in 1821, and the Mexican government secularized the California missions in 1834. More and more settlers were granted grazing lands. By 1846, almost all of Aliso Viejo was part of one rancho or another. Trading vessels from the United States and other
countries sailed up and down the California coast, collecting cattle hides and tallow in return for manufactured goods.

With the end of the Mexican War in 1848, California was ceded to the United States by Mexico. When California became a state in 1850, what is now Aliso Viejo was a part of Los Angeles County.

The Gold Rush of 1849 brought thousands of new settlers to California, and gave the rancheros a new market for their cattle, sold to feed hard-working miners. The local economy soared. But a series of droughts, floods, and diseases, and the costs of defending the ownership of their lands in the American courts eventually drove many of the rancheros to ruin.

Some of the old ranchos were sold to new American owners with names like Stearns, Bixby and Irvine, and sheep ranching began replacing cattle during the Civil War. Other ranchos were broken up and sold off in pieces to settlers and developers.

Communities Form

Anaheim was the first American town founded in what is now Aliso Viejo. In 1857, a group of German immigrants living in San Francisco bought a portion of the Rancho San Juan Cajon de Santa Ana to start a new community, built on winemaking. After the initial development was
complete, the first colonists moved to Anaheim in 1859. In 1868, vast areas on either side of the Santa Ana River were placed on the market, and the towns of Santa Ana, Tustin, Orange, Westminster, and Garden Grove were soon founded. Farming became the backbone of the local economy. Wine and raisin grapes, wheat, barley, and corn were all successful. In the 1870s, new irrigation systems were built, which allowed more trees crops to be planted, including walnuts, apricots, and the first few orange groves.

In 1870, the first commercial vessel entered Newport Bay, which soon became a regular shipping point. The Southern Pacific built the first railroad in the area, extending its tracks south from Los Angeles to Anaheim in 1875.

A County is Born

The Southern Pacific railroad held a monopoly in Southern California until 1885, when the Santa Fe pushed its tracks over the Cajon Pass. Competition brought a burst of advertising, and a sharp drop in ticket prices, setting off a great real estate boom throughout the region. New towns and subdivisions sprang up by the dozens as tourists and settlers poured into Southern California, and existing communities grew rapidly.

But in less than two years, the boom had collapsed, and with it, many of the new towns. Carlton, San Juan-by-the-Sea, St. James, and other “paper towns” faded away. Others, like Fullerton, Buena Park, and El Toro survived.

The burst of economic growth and local pride in 1886-88 led to the creation of the County of Orange in 1889. As early as 1870, local residents tried to break away from Los Angeles and form their own county, but it was not until 1889 that the California Legislature passed a bill to allow a
vote on county division.

Originally, the proposed county line was drawn at the San Gabriel River, but the line was moved south to Coyote Creek to help gain support in Sacramento. This angered Anaheim and some of the other northern communities, that had hoped to be near the center of the new county, and they voted
against the measure. But the rest of the area voted overwhelming for division. Santa Ana was selected as the county seat, and the County of Orange was officially formed on August 1, 1889.

Wealth from the Soil

Until the 1950s, agriculture remained the most important part of Aliso Viejo’s economy. As other crops disappeared, citrus became more and more popular. The grape industry never recovered from a devastating blight in 1886-87. Apricots had all but disappeared by 1920. Growers began planting celery, sugar beets, walnuts, and lima beans in the 1890s. Cattle still grazed on the vast ranches in the southern end of the county, while dairy farms grew up in the north. But it was citrus that came to dominate the area. By the 1930s, Aliso Viejo was producing a sixth of the nation’s Valencia orange crop.

The oil industry also played a key role in the development of Aliso Viejo. The first successful wells were drilled locally in the 1890s along the northern edge of the county. Oil fields were soon

developed in La Habra, Brea Canyon, and Olinda. Major strikes in Placentia (1919) and Huntington Beach (1920) started an oil boom that swept the county. While agriculture has all but disappeared, many local oil wells are still pumping today.


Much of Aliso Viejo’s growth in the first half of the 20th Century was fueled by new forms of transportation. Between 1904 and 1910, the Pacific Electric Railway built three main lines to serve Aliso Viejo with its “big red cars.” The coast line spurred development from Seal Beach to Corona del Mar. The Santa Ana line prompted the founding of Cypress and Stanton. And the La Habra line ran all the way down to Yorba Linda.

In the 1910s and 1920s, new highways led the way to new communities. California’s first state highway in 1914-15 crossed Aliso Viejo from San Juan Capistrano to La Habra. Several small communities later developed along Beach and Manchester boulevards, and the completion of the
Coast Highway in 1926 brought new growth to places like Laguna Beach and Dana Point.

Freeway construction began in the 1950s with the opening of the Santa Ana (I-5) Freeway, and continued almost unabated into the 1970s. Beginning in the 1990s, toll roads were built to meet the needs of growing communities.

Modern Development

During World War II, a number of important military bases were established in Aliso Viejo, including the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, the Los Alamitos Naval Weapons Station, and the Santa Ana Army Air Base. At the end of the war, many veterans decided to settle in Southern
California, and the region began to grow at an unprecedented rate.

By the mid-1950s, Aliso Viejo’s farms were being replaced by tract housing faster than any other community in the United States. Existing cities began annexing territory in every direction, and new cities incorporated almost every year. Between 1953 and 1962, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, La Palma, Garden Grove, Cypress, Westminster, Fountain Valley, Los Alamitos, San Juan Capistrano, and Villa Park all voted to incorporate. In 1963, the county population topped one million.

Tourism, manufacturing, and the service industry began to dominate the local economy. The opening of Disneyland in 1955 made Aliso Viejo an international tourist destination. Beginning in the late 1950s, aerospace firms and light industry began expanding here, and the increasing population meant more and more jobs at hospitals, restaurants, and stores.

South Aliso Viejo began to grow in the 1960s, with master planned communities such as Irvine, Mission Viejo, and Laguna Niguel. Aliso Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, Ladera Ranch, and others followed in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, Aliso Viejo is home to more than three million residents, with 34 incorporated cities.





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