Founded in 1870 by John North and a group of Easterners who wished to establish a colony dedicated to furthering education and culture, Riverside was built on land that was once a Spanish rancho. Investors from England and Canada transplanted traditions and activities adopted by prosperous citizens: the first golf course and polo field in Southern California were built in Riverside.
The first orange trees were planted in 1871, but the citrus industry in Riverside began two years later when Eliza Tibbets received two Brazilian navel orange trees sent to her by a friend at the Department of Agriculture in Washington. The trees thrived in the Southern California climate and the navel orange industry grew rapidly.
Citrus State ParkWithin a few years, the successful cultivation of the newly discovered navel orange led to a California Gold Rush of a different kind: the establishment of the citrus industry, which is commemorated in the landscapes and exhibits of the California Citrus State Historic Park and the restored packing houses in the Downtown's Marketplace district. By 1882, there were more more than half a million citrus trees in California, almost half of which were in Riverside. The development of refrigerated railroad cars and innovative irrigation systems established Riverside as the wealthiest city per capita by 1895.
As the city prospered, a small guest hotel designed in the popular Mission Revival style grew to become the world famous Mission Inn, favored by presidents, royalty and movie stars. Postcards of lush orange groves, swimming pools. and magnificent homes have attracted vacationers and entrepreneurs throughout the years. Many relocated to the warm, dry climate for reasons of health and to escape Eastern winters. Victoria Avenue with its landmark homes serves as a reminder of European investors who settled here.
Riverside's citizens are proud of the city's unique character born from a tradition of careful planning, from its carefully laid out historic Mile Square to its 1924 Civic Center designed by the same planner responsible for San Francisco's, Charles Cheney. Through the City's Office of Historic Preservation, it is committed to preserving the past as a firm foundation for the future. Over 100 City Landmarks, 20 National Register Sites and 2 National Landmarks have been designated by the City Council, all offering enjoyment and education to city residents and visitors.
Source: City of Riverside