Santa Ana is the county seat of Orange County and is the 57th most populous city in the United States. The city is part of the Los Angeles/Long Beach/Santa Ana metropolitan area which, according to the United States Census Bureau, is the second largest metropolitan area in the U.S., with almost thirteen million people. According to the 2000 Census, Santa Ana is the 4th most densely populated city behind New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago.
Santa Ana’s size and historic importance is demonstrated by the many southern California landmarks that share its name. The Santa Ana Freeway, which runs through the city, the nearby Santa Ana Mountains, and the Santa Ana winds all share the city’s name.
Santa Ana Demographics
- Population 324,528.
- Population Breakdown:
- White Persons 45.9%
- African American Persons 1.5%
- Native American Persons 1.0%
- Asian Persons 10.5%
- Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian Persons 0.3%
- Hispanic or Latino Persons 78.2%
Santa Ana History
Santa Ana was first inhabited by members of the Tongva and Juaneño/Luiseño nations. When the Spanish arrived in 1769 with Gaspar de Portola, the area was named Vallejo de Santa Ana. At that time the Santa Ana Valley comprised most of what is now called Orange County. In 1810, a sergeant of the Spanish army named Jose Antonio Yorba, was granted land that he called Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana. This rancho was the only land grant in Orange County during Spanish Rule. After the end of the Mexican-American war in 1848, California became part of the United States and American settlers began to arrive in the area.
Santa Ana was claimed in 1869 by William H. Spurgeon. Spurgeon, a native of Kentucky, obtained the grant from the descendents of Jose Antonio Yorba. However, it was not until 1886 that Santa Ana was incorporated as a city. Then in 1889 Santa Ana became the seat of the newly formed Orange County. The Pacific Electric Railway from Los Angeles was extended to Santa Ana after 1906. The “red cars” made travel to Los Angeles easier and fostered Santa Ana’s continued population growth.
During World War II, Santa Ana served its country with the creation of the Santa Ana Army Air Base. The Air Base was used as a training center for the United States Army Air Forces. The base fostered further population growth in Santa Ana and the surrounding areas as many veterans moved close to the base to raise families after the end of the war.
Santa Ana became a Charter City on November 11, 1952. But it wasn’t until 1988 that the citizens of Santa Ana amended the Charter to provide for the direct election of a Mayor. Currently, Santa Ana has been involved in an effort to revitalize the downtown area. Buildings are being renovated and the Santa Ana Artist’s Village was created to attract artists and young professionals to live in new downtown lofts and to start new businesses.