Friday, March 23, 2018

Who was Alton?

Looking east on the original segment of Alton St. near S. Main St., in Santa Ana.
Fellow history dudes Rob and Cliff send me a question from the "Growing up in Irvine" Facebook group about the origins of the street name "Alton Avenue" in Irvine.

I didn't know where the name came from, but I was able to dig up the answer.

The first segment of Alton was a stretch less than half a mile long called Alton Street in Santa Ana. It extended east from South Main St. In 1945 it was still an unnamed dirt road, or at least the name didn't yet appear on maps. However, the street appeared in the 1952 Rene Atlas of Orange County, as Alton St.

Prominent dairyman and rancher James E. Alton (of the J. E. Alton & Sons Co.) had been living and ranching along S. Main St. in the Greenville area since at least the early 1900s. James primarily made the newspapers when involved in Knights of Columbus activities or when he was picked up for public intoxication.

In 1952, James’ son, Joseph W. Alton, took charge of the business. At that point, James and his wife Frances lived at 15032 Alton St., Santa Ana.

Later, little Alton Street would be extended east to Newport Blvd. and then southeast into what's now Irvine. It was bisected when that segment of Newport Blvd. became part of the 55 Freeway.

As Irvine was developed and grew in the 1960s, 1970s and even into the 2010s, Alton St. was extended yet further and became Alton Ave. and (east of the 55 Freeway) Alton Parkway. Several more unconnected segments of Alton were also added to the west in South Santa Ana as more land was developed. Today, the western terminus of Alton Ave. is at Susan Street.

"It is amazing how such a small road became a major street," says Cliff.


Anonymous said...

I drive Alton every day and never knew this story. Thanks!

EDGE4194 said...

Thanks Chris! I always enjoy any history about streets (says the guy who used spend his lunches in the Archives studying old Renie and Thomas maps)