Yorba Linda History

The Yorba Linda Public Library is dedicated to making the Local History Collection as easily available to the public as possible.  To accomplish this task, the following materials are available online for your convenience.

  • History of Yorba Linda

    Archaeological discoveries show that the Tongva, Luiseño and Juaneño tribes visited the Yorba Linda area near the Santa Ana River as early as 4,000 years ago. They used the area as a seasonal campsite.

    Modern history of Yorba Linda began in 1834 when Bernardo Yorba received a land grant from the Mexican government for 13,328 acres. He called it “Rancho Cañon de Santa Ana.” It was located north of the Santa Ana River and included the present day city of Yorba Linda.

    In 1835 Bernardo began building one of the largest adobe houses built during the “Golden Age of the California Ranchos.” He named his hacienda San Antonio and it is said to have had fifty rooms.

    After Bernardo’s death in 1858, his land was divided between his wife and children. By 1907, some of the land was bought by Jacob Stern, a resident of Fullerton. The next year, the Janss Investment Company in Los Angeles bought Stern’s land. They named the area Yorba Linda— Yorba being the last name of its original owner, Bernardo Yorba, and Linda, which means “beautiful” in Spanish. “Linda” may also have been selected in honor of the town of Olinda, just to the north. The Janss Company sold agricultural plots for $150 an acre and “choice” ranches for $250 per acre and up.

    By 1911 about thirty-five people lived in Yorba Linda. Many of them were farmers who owned orange or lemon groves. The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company installed telephone service, and the first school was built.

    Buckmaster Garage on Main Street circa 1912.

    In 1912 the Pacific Electric Railway Company extended its service to Yorba Linda, and provided growers with swift transportation of their produce to Los Angeles. In addition, 1912 marked the year that the Southern California Edison Company installed electrical service; the first post office opened; and the first church in town, the Yorba Linda Friends Church, was built.

    Yorba Linda’s first church – Yorba Linda Friends Church – circa 1918.

    Richard M. Nixon, the thirty-seventh President of the United States, was born on January 9, 1913 in Yorba Linda. Additionally in 1913, the Yorba Linda Chamber of Commerce was organized and the Yorba Linda Library opened.

    Nixon family in 1916: Parents Frank and Hannah
    and children (l to r) Harold, Donald, and Richard.

    In 1917, Yorba Linda Boulevard became the first paved road in the community and the Yorba Linda Star began publication.

    Olinda Street circa 1920

    Yorba Linda went through few changes between 1920 and 1960. In those forty years, Yorba Linda’s population grew from 350 to 1,198. The town’s main business continued to be farming.

    It was not until the 1960s that Yorba Linda began experiencing significant population growth. By 1967, the year the town was incorporated, the population had dramatically increased to 11,433.

    The 1970s and 80s continued the growth of the previous decade. Many of the city’s housing developments, including East Lake Village, were built during this time. In addition, a number of shopping centers were built, including the SAVI Ranch Center that is anchored in 2016 by Best Buy, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Costco, and Kohl’s.

    The city opened the Black Gold Golf Course on November 16, 2001. This public golf course is spread over 219 acres and features a lighted driving range, putting green and 20,000 square foot clubhouse complete with men’s and women’s locker rooms, fully stocked pro shop, full service bar and grill restaurant, and excellent wedding and banquet facilities.

    Richard M. Nixon Library and Birthplace

    On July 19, 1990, the nine acre Richard M. Nixon Library and Birthplace was dedicated. In
    attendance were Richard M. Nixon and wife, Pat, and former presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush. It was a privately supported, non-profit institution dedicated to educating the public about the life and times of the thirty-seventh President and encouraging interest in history, government and public affairs.

    Richard M. Nixon died on April 22, 1994, in New York City and was buried on the grounds of the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, at the side of his First Lady, on April 27, 1994. The eulogists at his State Funeral were President Bill Clinton, Senator Robert Dole, California Governor Pete Wilson, and Nixon’s second Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger.

    On July 11, 2007, the National Archives assumed control of the Nixon Library with Timothy Naftali as Director.

    In 2015 the Nixon Library and Birthplace closed for significant renovations to the display areas. With the formal reopening in 2016, the museum incorporated a video-centric, cutting-edge experience for visitors.

    Yorba Linda Town Center Project

    Located near the intersection of Imperial Highway and Yorba Linda Boulevard, the ten acre Town Center area is at the heart of Yorba Linda’s historic downtown. Existing occupants include retail and office space along Main Street, the Yorba Linda Public Library, a local fire station, and a historic church. Several existing buildings date from the early 1900s. Plans for the Project incorporate pedestrian-friendly streetscape improvements on Main Street. These buildings and improvements will preserve the small town atmosphere.

    The Yorba Linda Town Center Project is a pedestrian-friendly, high-end retail, entertainment, and restaurant district. Plans include over 125,000 square feet of theater, grocery, clothing, and restaurant spaces centered around an open space commons.

    On Tuesday, November 1, 2016 the Yorba Linda Chamber of Commerce and Zelman
    Development Company, in cooperation with the City of Yorba Linda City Council, broke ground on the highly anticipated Yorba Linda Town Center project. The Town Center opened in 2019.

  • HISTORY OF THE YORBA LINDA PUBLIC LIBRARY

    Yorba Linda’s first librarian, Gertrude Welch, and her uncle celebrating Christmas in 1910. The ostrich’s name was President Taft and was the main attraction at a South Pasadena ostrich farm.

    In April of 1913, Gertrude Welch thought that the people of Yorba Linda should have their own library. A citizen’s group held a meeting and made plans to establish the first library. The Yorba Linda School District gave permission to put the library in a 300-square foot room in the grammar school on School Street.

    Yorba Linda School

    Volunteers installed bookshelves and helped to redecorate the room. Gertrude Welch gave sixty-three books to the new library; her sister from New York also donated and sent books to help out. In addition, the Yorba Linda Women’s Club contributed books and held “teas” to raise money.

    The library opened on May 2, 1913. Books could be checked out for one week. Only two books could be taken out at a time, one fiction and one non-fiction. A fine of two cents a day was charged for overdue items.

    The library was open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 3:00 pm to sunset.

    The report for May of 1913, the first month the library was open as follows:

    Days open 8
     Total circulation 31
    Largest daily circulation 8
    Smallest daily circulation 2
    New books 67
    New library cards 12
    Amount of fines collected

    $0.27

    On March 3, 1914, the Yorba Linda Library District, the first library district in California, was established and a board of trustees appointed by the Orange County Board of Supervisors. This allowed the library to raise tax money to purchase materials and provide better service.

    The room in the schoolhouse continued to serve as the library for over three years. In December of 1916, a lot was purchased at the southeast corner of Valencia Street and Lemon Drive. A building was erected and the library relocated there in the late summer of 1917. Amanda Longnecker, Yorba Linda’s first schoolteacher, was the librarian.

    In the early 1920’s, the library purchased and moved into a building that formerly housed a post office and general store on Olinda Street. The library remained there until 1960.

    By 1958, the collection had grown to 13,500 books and the library needed to expand. Unfortunately, the library building, which was constructed in 1916, could not be altered according to the county building code. The library district asked for a bond issue in order to build a new 6,000 square foot library. A library bond issue for $80,000 was passed on July 8, 1959 by a vote of 280 to 39.

    Groundbreaking for the new library took place on Saturday, March 7, 1959. Hurless Barton, honorary mayor of Yorba Linda, presided over the event. The Dedication was held on February 7, 1960.

    There was mural behind the Circulation Desk, with panels which depicted the past, present and future of the Yorba Linda region. In 1959 Mr. and Mrs. W.G. Paul presented the mural to the Yorba Linda Public Library’s new building in memory of their daughter Robin, who passed away in 1958. Allan Hall created and painted this mural. He was a local resident and a well-known Southern California artist.

    How the current (2016) library looked in the mid 1960’s.

    By 1970, there were about 55,000 books in the library and the building was unable to accommodate the growing collection. A bond issue of $585,000 was passed and the library was enlarged to become a three-level building. This added 17,425-square feet. Dedication for the library addition was held on June 26, 1971.

    In July of 1985, the Yorba Linda District Library was dissolved, and the library became a department of the City of Yorba Linda and was renamed the Yorba Linda Public Library.

    Between 1990 and 1992, the library was again remodeled. The building was enlarged to 28,530 square feet. Total cost for the project was $3,700,000 and was financed with existing revenue from the library and general and redevelopment agency funds. Mayor Irwin Fried officiated at the dedication ceremony on September 12, 1992. Assemblyman Mickey Conroy, Assemblyman Ross Johnson, State Senator John Lewis, and Orange
    County Supervisor Gaddi Vasquez also attended the ceremony.

    1914 2011/12 fiscal year
    152 books and magazines 169,871 books, ebooks, magazines, audio visual items
    21 magazines 174 magazine subscriptions
    24 patrons 55,925 patrons
    251 circulation 874,333 circulation
    $150 income ($3,444 in 2012 dollars) $158,380 fines, fees and rentals

    Library Statistical Comparison – 1914 to 2011/12

    Computer stations opposite the Reference Desk in 2016.

    Stacks in the Library as of 2016. 

    The facade of the Library as of 2016.

    As of 2016, a new Library and Arts Center was in the planning stages. This facility will be located in the lot behind the Stater Brothers Market on Lakeview Ave. where it meets Lemon Dr., just north of Yorba Linda Blvd., near the new Town Center development. This lot was once known as the Strawberry Field.

    In April 2019, the groundbreaking for the new Yorba Linda Public Library and the Yorba Linda Department of Parks and Recreation arts-related buildings took place.

  • Timeline

    1746
    José Antonio Yorba was born in San Sadurni de Noya, Spain.

    1769
    July: The Gaspar de Portola Expedition explored the area we now call Orange County. José Antonio Yorba was a member of this expedition.

    1776
    November 1: Father Junipero Serra celebrated a mass officially marking the founding of Mission San Juan Capistrano.

    1801
    August 4: Bernardo Yorba, the son of José Antonio Yorba, was born in San Diego.

    1810
    July 1: Juan Antonio Yorba and his nephew, Juan Peralta, received from the Spanish government a land grant of 62,512 acres known as Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana. The towns of Olive, Orange, Villa Park, Santa Ana, Tustin and Costa Mesa were later developed from this acreage.

    1825
    January 16: José Antonio Yorba died.

    1834
    August 1: Bernardo Yorba received from the Mexican government a land grant of 13,328 acres, known as Rancho Cañon de Santa Ana.

    1835
    Bernardo Yorba began building his adobe home, the Rancho San Antonio. It was demolished in 1927. A monument is located on Esperanza Road, about one-half mile east of Imperial Highway.

    1848
    February 2: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, formally transferring the territory of California from Mexico to the United States.

    1850
    September 9: California became the thirty-first state to enter the union.

    1858
    Bernardo Yorba established the Yorba Cemetery, the oldest private cemetery in Orange County, predated only by the Mission Cemetery in San Juan Capistrano. It is located in Woodgate Park. November 20: Bernardo Yorba died.

    1889
    March 11: The County of Orange was created. Orange County’s population was about 19,000.

    1902
    The Anaheim Union Water Company completed work on the Yorba Reservoir. It was drained in 1969.

    1907
    Fullerton pioneer Jacob Stern formed a partnership and acquired Rancho Canon de Santa Ana land for the purpose of developing a town-site.

    1908
    The Janss Investment Company bought from Jacob Stern part of the land that made up the Rancho Cañon de Santa Ana. They named the area “Yorba Linda” and began selling it by the acre in 1909.

    1909
    December 6: The Articles of Incorporation of the Yorba Linda Water Company were filed.

    1910
    The first orange and lemon trees were planted in Yorba Linda.

    1911
    Yorba Linda’s population was about thirty-five.  The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company installed telephone service in Yorba Linda.
    Yorba Linda’s first school was built. It was located at 4866 Olinda Street.

    1912
    August 12: Yorba Linda’s first post office was established.
    The Yorba Linda Citrus Association was organized.
    The Southern California Edison Company installed electric service in Yorba Linda.
    The Pacific Electric Railway Company built a depot in Yorba Linda.
    Yorba Linda’s first church, the Yorba Linda Friend’s Church, was built. It was located on School Street.

    1913
    January 9: Richard M. Nixon was born in Yorba Linda.
    February 10: The Yorba Linda Chamber of Commerce was organized.
    May 2: The Yorba Linda Library opened. It was located in a room in the Yorba Linda School, which was located
    on School Street.
    John Whedon planted Yorba Linda’s first Fuerte avocado trees.

    1914
    March 3: The Yorba Linda Library District was established.

    1915
    Troop 99, the first Boy Scout troop in Orange County, was organized in Yorba Linda.
    The Susanna Bixby Bryant Ranch house was built. It was located at 5700 Susanna Bryant Drive.

    1917
    Yorba Linda’s first road was paved. It was Yorba Linda Boulevard.
    The Yorba Linda Star began printing.
    The Yorba Linda Library opened its first building.

    1920
    Yorba Linda’s population was about 350.

    1929
    June 29: The Yorba Linda Citrus Association’s wood-framed packinghouse was destroyed by fire.

    1930
    May 3: The Yorba Linda Citrus Association’s packing house, located at 19200 Yorba Linda Boulevard, reopened.

    1953
    January 20: Richard M. Nixon was inaugurated as the 36th Vice President of the United States.

    1958
    Brea considers annexation of Yorba Linda.

    1959
    January 2: The Yorba Linda County Water District, which replaced the Yorba Linda Water Company, was formed.

    1960
    Yorba Linda’s population was 1,198 (1960 U.S. Census).
    New Library building of 6,000 square feet was dedicated. It was one story and the entrance was located on Lemon St.

    1963
    Voters reject attempt by Anaheim to annex Yorba Linda.
    Placentia attempts to annex Yorba Linda.

    1967
    November 2: Yorba Linda incorporated. Yorba Linda’s population was 11,433.

    1968
    January 20: Richard M. Nixon was inaugurated as the 37th President of the United States.

    1970
    The Library’s book collection stood at 55,000 books. A second addition was built, creating a building with three floors. Twenty thousand square feet were added.

    1971
    Yorba Linda contracts with the Brea Police Department for services.

    1972
    City adopts the General Plan, a blueprint for municipal development.

    1974
    August 9: Richard M. Nixon resigned as President of the United States.

    1976
    Proposition 13 voted in, causing austerity throughout governments.

    1980
    Yorba Linda population was 28,254 (1980 U.S. Census).

    1985
    July 1: The Yorba Linda Library District merged with the city of Yorba Linda.

    1989
    The schools of Placentia and Yorba Linda unify as one district.
    SAVI Ranch Center was built.
    Friends of the Library wrote their Articles of Incorporation.

    1990
    July 19: Opening of the Richard M. Nixon Library & Birthplace.
    Yorba Linda’s population was 52,422 (1990 U.S. Census).
    The third and last addition of 4,000 square feet was added to the Yorba Linda Public Library building. There were now two entrances: on Imperial Hwy and on Olinda St.

    1994
    April 22: Richard M Nixon died.
    Yorba Linda Community Center opens.

    1997
    November 15: Dedication of the Susanna Bixby Bryant Ranch Museum and Botanic Garden.

    2000
    Yorba Linda’s population was 58,918 (2000 U.S. Census).

    2003
    Yorba Linda’s population was 62,678 (California Department of Finance).

    2004
    Yorba Linda’s population is about 63,991 (California Department of Finance estimate).

    2005
    Yorba Linda’s population is about 65,382 (California Department of Finance estimate).

    2006
    Yorba Linda’s population is about 66,974 (California Department of Finance estimate).

    2007
    April 4: Yorba Linda High School ground breaking.
    Construction started for train track overpass for Imperial Hwy.
    July 11: The privately owned Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace transitions to the Richard Nixon Library and Museum, becoming a federally operated Presidential Library.
    Berm wall project on Esperanza Road finished.
    Placentia-Linda Hospital celebrates 35 year anniversary.
    Yorba Linda declared top in nation with a median household income of $121,075.
    Water agency to fluoridate Yorba Linda’s water.

    2008
    Yorba Linda’s population is about 68,312 (California Department of Finance estimate).
    Freeway Complex Fire occurs in November.

    2010
    Population 64,423 (from the U.S. Census Bureau).

    2011
    Population 65,689 (from the U.S. Census Bureau).

    2012
    Population 66,420 (from the U.S. Census Bureau).

    2013
    Population 67,032 (from the U.S. Census Bureau).

    2013
    Last year that Yorba Linda contracts with Brea Police Department for services.

    2014
    Yorba Linda begins contract with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for police services.

    2016
    Ground breaking for a new Town Center. It will consist of over 125,000 square feet of theater, grocery, clothing, and restaurant uses centered around an open space commons. It will be bound by Yorba Linda Blvd, Imperial Hwy, Main St, a newly created street, Lemon Dr, and Lakeview Ave.

    The City of Yorba Linda, the Yorba Linda Public Library and the Yorba Linda Department of Parks and Recreation are working to design and construct two new facilities that will house the new library and a new arts-related space in the vacant lot behind Stater Brothers market at Lemon Dr.

    2019
    January 5: Groundbreaking for the new Yorba Linda Public Library and the Yorba Linda Department of Parks and Recreation arts-related buildings in the vacant lot behind Stater Brothers market at Lemon Dr. This lot was once known as the Strawberry Field.

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  • YORBA LINDA PUBLIC LIBRARY
    PHOTOGRAPH & LOCAL HISTORY COLLECTION
    REPRODUCTION GUIDELINES

    The Yorba Linda Public Library has a Photograph and Local History Collection for use by the public. Patrons may request copies for personal use in accordance with Copyright Law and with the Library’s current fee schedule.

    COPYRIGHT
    The Yorba Linda Public Library does not hold the copyright to all materials in the Photograph and Local History Collection. It is the responsibility of the user to obtain any necessary permissions.

    The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted works. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study,
    scholarship, or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” the user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of the copyright law.

    The granting of permission to publish by the Library does not absolve users of materials from securing permission from copyright owners and payment of such additional fees as the owners may require if the Library does not own copyright or if the material is not in the public domain.

    Applicants assume all responsibility for questions of copyright and invasion of privacy that may arise in copying and in the use made of the electronic or photographic copy.

    CREDIT INFORMATION
    Reproductions from the Photograph and Local History Collection must be credited with the standard credit line: “Courtesy of the Yorba Linda Public Library”. Materials reproduced for research may not later be used for publications or other public uses without written permission from the Yorba Linda Public Library.

    A completed copy of any publication using reproduced materials must be given, without charge, to the Library for its collection.

    REPRODUCTION REQUESTS
    In authorizing the reproduction of works within its collection, the Yorba Linda Public Library does not surrender its own right to publish or grant permission to others to do so. Further copies of any requested material is not allowed, including digital copies.

    To request copy prints or digital images of Photographs in the Local History contact the Yorba Linda Public Library at 714-777-2873 ext. 6. .

  • YORBA LINDA PUBLIC LIBRARY
    LOCAL HISTORY COLLECTION
    DONATION & DEED OF GIFT EXPLANATION

    Donation
    The Yorba Linda Public Library Local History Collection grows primarily through the donation of materials.

    Items of historical value that can be donated include photographs, slides, books, diaries, scrapbooks, letters, yearbooks, dedication programs, community brochures, maps and postcards. The Library reserves the right to decide whether a proposed Gift is to be added to the Local History Collection.

    As part of the Local History Collection, these donated items will be preserved for those researching the history of Yorba Linda.

    Explanation
    The Deed of Gift legally assigns to The Yorba Linda Public Library Local History Collection the materials that you as a Donor are giving to the Library. The Deed of Gift form constitutes the transfer of rights, title, and interest, and serves to define the terms of the transfer. The Gift will be administered in accordance with the Yorba Linda Public Library’s established guidelines.

    Generally, copyright belongs to the creator of writings and other original material (such as photos), but can be legally transferred to others. The Yorba Linda Public Library encourages Donors to transfer any copyright they may control to the Yorba Linda Public Library whenever possible.

    In certain circumstances, it may be possible for a donor to take a tax deduction for the donation of material. Donors are encouraged to speak with their tax accountants or attorneys about this possibility. The Yorba Linda Public Library cannot give tax advice or appraise the monetary value of material. However, the Library can give a Donation Receipt for the Gift if requested.

    In order to make the most effective use of resources, the Yorba Linda Public Library reserves the right to determine the disposition of donated materials. This includes the right to reformat any material in its collection. For instance, donated items may be digitized for public access on the Internet or for other forms of electronic distribution.

    If you have historical materials to donate, please contact us at (714) 777-2873 ext. 6.