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.


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

    In 1910, Gertrude Welch and her parents moved to Yorba Linda.  The closest library for Yorba Lindans at that time was in Fullerton, quite a long way away by horse and buggy.  Welch, a library assistant in her previous home, thought that there should be a library in Yorba Linda.  She gathered support, got the populace behind the idea and started arranging funding.  The Yorba Linda Women’s Club contributed books and held teas to raise money.

    In 1913, 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 St.  Welch offered to be the librarian for free for six months.  Volunteers installed bookshelves and helped to redecorate the room.  Welch gave 63 books to the new library and her sister, Mrs. Frederick Morlock from New York, also donated and sent books to help out.

    Yorba Linda School – the library was in a small office from 1913 to 1917.

    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


    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 St. and Lemon Dr. A building was erected and the library relocated there in the late summer of 1917 and stayed until 1920. Amanda Longnecker, Yorba Linda’s first schoolteacher, was the librarian there.

    Amanda Longnecker and the library building, 1917-1920.

    In 1919, the library purchased and moved into a building that formerly housed a post office and general store on Olinda St. The library remained there until 1959.

    The library moved into the Post Office building in 1920 and stayed there until 1959.

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

    Groundbreaking for the new library, at the corner of Lemon Dr. and Olinda St., took place on Saturday, March 7, 1959. Hurless Barton, honorary mayor of Yorba Linda, presided over the event. The library opened to the public at 2 p.m. on Thursday, December 10, 1959 with a later dedication held on February 7, 1960.

    How the current 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.

    Computer stations opposite the Reference Desk in 2016.

    Stacks in the Library as of 2016. 

    The library facade in 2016.

    As of 2016, a new Library and Arts Center was in the planning stages, to be located in a lot behind the Stater Brothers Market on Lakeview Ave. and Lemon Dr., just north of Yorba Linda Blvd., near the Yorba Linda Town Center.

    On January 5, 2019, the groundbreaking for the new Yorba Linda Public Library and the Yorba Linda Cultural Arts Center took place.

    On March 4, 2020, Governor Newson declared California a State of Emergency due to Covid-19.  The Library building and book drops closed to the public on March 12.  President Trump declared a national emergency the next day, March 13.

    The Shelter-in-Place order was modified on May 8, 2020, to limit retail and other services.  Five days later, curbside service opened to the public.  Staff was split into two teams. One worked onsite while the other telecommuted on alternating days in an effort to limit the spread of Covid-19.

    The last day of curbside service took place on October 15, 2020, at the old Library building (18181 Imperial Highway).  Staff then prepared for moving into the new Library building over several weeks.  The old Library building was torn down and an In-N-Out Burger will be constructed in its place.

    On November 13, 2020, the dedication ceremony for the new Library building and Arts Center located at 4852 Lakeview Drive took place.  On November 30,  the new Library building officially opened for limited services due to Covid-19 restrictions, including in-person browsing appointments, book returns, and library card applications.

    The new Library building in November 2020.

    On June 29, 2021, a dedication ceremony for the new rose garden was held by the Yorba Linda Women’s Club at the Library.  Roses were planted at the new Library on April 29, 2021 and a plaque commemorating the rose garden was installed on June 26, 2021.

  • Timeline

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

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

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

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

    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.

    January 16: José Antonio Yorba died.

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

    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.

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

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

    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.

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

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

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

    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.

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

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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    March 3: The Yorba Linda Library District was established.

    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.

    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.

    Yorba Linda’s population was about 350.

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

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

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

    Brea considers annexation of Yorba Linda.

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

    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.

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

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

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

    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.

    Yorba Linda contracts with the Brea Police Department for services.

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

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

    Proposition 13 voted in, causing austerity throughout governments.

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

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

    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.

    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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    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.

    The City of Yorba Linda celebrated its 50th anniversary of incorporation.

    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.

    March 16: The City of Yorba Linda declared a local State of Emergency due to Covid-19.  Three days later, Governor Newsom issued Shelter in Place order.

    March 20: All Yorba Linda facilities are closed.

    March 24: Yorba Linda Coronavirus Information Hotline opens for calls.

    May 8: Shelter-in-Place order is modified to allow limited retail and other services.  Five days later, Library curbside service opens to the public.

    June 1: City Hall reopens to the public.

    November 13: Dedication ceremony for new Library building and Arts Center located at 4852 Lakeview Drive.

    November 30: The new Library building officially opens for in-person appointments, book returns, and library card applications.

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    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.

    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.

    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.

    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. .


    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.

    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.