DescriptionOne fine day in 1869, William H. Spurgeon bought 70 acres of Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana, abbreviated the name and plotted out a townsite. You could hardly blame him—land was eight bucks an acre, or so the story goes. He had to practically give the lots away until he persuaded the Los Angeles-Santiago Stagecoach line to stop there. The arrival of the Santa Fe Railroad triggered a real estate boom in 1887; two years later, Orange County split off from L.A. and named Santa Ana the county seat—just about the time the boom went bust. Today the city is the ninth largest in the state.
Santa Ana promises a field day for architecture and history buffs. Downtown’s 36-block historic district boasts more than 100 renovated buildings in a baker’s dozen of architectural styles. Among the most distinctive structures are the 1889 Dr. Howe-Waffle House, 120 E. Civic Center Dr., Victorian-style home of the county’s first woman doctor; the 1913 Spurgeon Building with its ornate clock tower, 206 W. 4th St., erected by the city’s founder and first postmaster; and the 1935 Moderne-style Old City Hall, 217 N. Main St., its entry guarded by a pair of bearded Assyrian warriors.
The Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society offers guided walking tours the first Saturday of every even month by advance reservation only. Tours last 2 to 3 hours. Phone (714) 547-9645.
The Heritage Museum of Orange County, 3101 W. Harvard St., is an 11-acre cultural and natural history center featuring the 1898 Kellogg House. The historic home contains several hands-on activities for visitors, and is surrounded by citrus groves, gardens and several other 1890s structures. Guided tours of the home are available. A working blacksmith shop, a nature area and the 1899 Maag House also are on site; phone (714) 540-0404.
Visitor InfoSanta Ana Chamber of Commerce 1631 W. Sunflower Ave. Suite C-35 SANTA ANA, CA 92704. Phone:(714)541-5353
ShoppingArtists Village, centered on Broadway between 1st and 3rd streets, is a group of galleries and studios exhibiting paintings, sculpture and multimedia by local artisans. The Village is anchored by the Moorish-style Santora Arts Building and the nearby Grand Central Arts Center. The district’s Art Walk, held the first Saturday of each month from 7-10 p.m., is a popular event with free live entertainment.
Downtown Santa Ana is a colorful shopping destination, centered on 3rd and 4th streets between Broadway and Main Street, catering to the Hispanic community. Wedding and formal wear boutiques, specialty stores, gift shops and food vendors characterize the retail district. You’ll find department stores and brand name shops at Westfield MainPlace, 2800 N. Main St.
NightlifeGypsy Den Café, 125 N. Broadway Ave., offers an entertainment menu of folk, pop, rock and swing, with weekly open mic nights on Mondays and monthly poetry readings; phone (714) 835-8840.
Things to SeeBowers Museum