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History of Newport Beach, CA

August 19, 2019
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Newport Beach is a popular waterfront city located within California’s Orange County. The city is one of the most popular beach vacation destinations in the country and is home to several tourist hotspots including the likes of Balboa Island and Newport Harbor. Newport Beach city has an almost stagnant population of a little over 85,000 […]

Newport Beach is a popular waterfront city located within California’s Orange County. The city is one of the most popular beach vacation destinations in the country and is home to several tourist hotspots including the likes of Balboa Island and Newport Harbor. Newport Beach city has an almost stagnant population of a little over 85,000 residents.

Way before the arrival of the European explorers in the mid-sixteenth century, the area that became today's Newport Beach city was dominated by several local native tribes namely the  Juaneño and the Tongva. The tribes relied on gathering, hunting, and trade with other native tribes.

The first Spanish expedition arrived in the area in 1542 under the leadership of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo and claimed the area for the Spanish empire. The second expedition was tasked with the mapping of the "New Spain" territory in 1602 and marked the beginning of Spanish settlements in the area. The Tongva people, being the strongest native tribe in the area, aggressively resisted the invasion by the new settlers but without any success. Most of the natives were pushed out of the area while and those who were adamant to stay and fight were wiped by the Old World diseases that the Spanish settlers brought with them.

Jose Antonio Yorba was one of the pioneer's settlers in this new Spanish territory which was then known as Alta California. Being one of the early expeditionary team and part of the Spanish military, he was awarded huge land grant in 1801 which included the area where modern-day Newport Beach City stands. During this period, the area had established itself as a thriving trading center for hides in exchange for other goods with merchants coming from as far as Boston. This continued even after the Mexicans freed themselves from the Spanish rule and claimed California as part of their now free country in 1821.

During the Mexican reign in the region, the former Spanish Ranchos territory was divided into new tracts of land and awarded to Mexican nationals. Interestingly, the new owners of the land failed to recognize the potential of the Newport Beach area and deemed it worthless. The area remained unclaimed and unoccupied until after 1868 when two visionaries, James McFadden and James Irvine, discovered the potential of the land as a future town site and started acquiring the land.

They subdivided their newly acquired lands into small tracts for development and started marketing them to potential buyers. This marked the start of a new town which soon developed a thriving trading center and tourist destination and was incorporated as a city in 1906. Today, Newport Beach city is a thriving economic and residential center and one of the most coveted tourist destinations in the U.S.

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