Saturday, February 27, 2010

Post-War Orange County

The week started out really busy. Then I got this nasty cold and really wasn't in the mood for blogging. I'm still not. But here's a cool graphic showing Orange County in a 1963 newspaper ad for United California Bank. I've colorized the version above, but the original black and white version is shown below. (Now that I see both, I kind of like it better without color.)
It's a poolside barbecue with friends and family, in the backyard of a Mid-Century tract home. Rolling green hills and Disneyland's castle are within view, just past the big orange tree. The only way it could be better is if Dad grilled the steaks wearing something manlier than black tights and a miniskirt.
Seriously though, the dream of surburban living was fulfilled by hundreds of thousands of families who came to Orange County during the Post-WWII years. In 1946 the county's population was 175,000. By 1956 it was 489,850. And by 1966, the population had grown to 1,235,700! For what had been a somewhat sleepy agricultural region, this kind of growth was unbelievable.
It seems most (or many) of those new families bought tract homes. Even accounting for the G.I. Bill, it seems amazing that so many could afford these homes -- And usually on only one income. Today, two-income families find themselves struggling to pay rent on even a small condo. Most of the educated younger people I know have long since fled O.C. and its high cost of living.
I'd leave too, but do you have any idea how hard it is to be an Orange County historian while living in another state?


Anonymous said...

Now I'm going to have the Monkey's song "Pleasant Valley Sunday" in my head for the rest of the day!

Doug said...

Great graphic. Do like the colored version. Might make a great screen saver or album cover?
We left O.C. in about 1993. Headed 200 miles north to Tulare County. Have a house on a piece of property that looks some what like the property that my family homesteaded on in Trabuco Canyon in the late 1880s. Still visit and occasional work in O.C. Good memories,there just too many people and too much asphalt. I like living in a place where folks still make a living actually growing oranges.