Traveling north across California in 1769, Gaspar de Portola and his Spanish troops were the first Europeans to discover the Orange County area. During their journey, the soldiers camped on a wide grassy plain east of present-day Garden Grove, which they named the Santa Ana Valley. The valley was later divided into sections as the soldiers began settling in the area.
In 1822, Mexico gained its independence from Spain and took control of California. It wasn't until the end of the Mexican-American War and the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 that California became America's 31st state.
A few years later, a businessman named Abel Stearns began purchasing large tracts of land in Southern California. By 1868, he began selling off his sections of property for $15 an acre. Nearly 160 of those acres were sold to a man named Alonzo Cook. Recognized today as Garden Grove's founding father, Cook suggested the name "Garden Grove" for the local school and surrounding village. Some argued that the name did not fit the open terrain. Cook responded, "We'll make it appropriate by planting trees and making it beautiful."
For the first 80 years, early settlers of Garden Grove pulled together and built their community from pastureland. Homes, schools, churches and businesses sprang up throughout the area. By the early 20th century, Garden Grove was a thriving farm community with a major railroad, a post office and a bank. Even after two natural disasters struck - a major flood in 1916 and an earthquake in 1933 - Garden Grove residents pulled together and rebuilt their town.
A post-World War II real estate surge marked the beginning of the largest growth cycle in the city's history. Many soldiers returned to Garden Grove to settle down and raise their families. By the late 1950s, Garden Grove was named the fastest growing city in America and drew flocks of young families. The rural area transformed into a more urban community and the need for city government became evident. Residents decided to incorporate their town on June 18, 1956. Since its incorporation, the City of Garden Grove has retained its pioneer spirit.
Garden Grove today is the fourth largest city in Orange County and the 17th largest in the state. The dynamic and thriving community continues to change along with the times while having a strong sense of its roots and history. A drive through town reveals large parks, thriving businesses, established neighborhoods, new housing developments and a wonderful cultural diversity. The city also shows signs of rejuvenation with seven new hotels, a 16-screen multiplex theater, and a higher education center under construction.
Students in Garden Grove are served by the Garden Grove Unified School District. With 48 elementary schools, 11 middle schools, 9 high schools and 5 community colleges, Garden Grove can meet all of your family's educational needs. There are also a number of excellent public and private colleges and universities in the nearby surrounding areas.
The City of Garden Grove provides its residents with many services and is one of the safest places to live in California. The community is proud of its strong commitment to volunteerism. In addition, Garden Grove is home to the most churches and places of worship per capita in California, including the world-famous Crystal Cathedral.
In 1998, the Garden Grove Community Foundation was founded to showcase and promote Garden Grove regionally. The foundation's promotional program, called "Renaissance Garden Grove," features a free summer concert series, an educational speakers series, and several special events throughout the year.
Garden Grove is truly a Renaissance City and a great place to live, learn and play - Come see for yourself!
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