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The History

Enjoying wine af family gathering, Anaheim, circa 1860

Many people credit Walt Disney with putting Anaheim on the map by establishing Disneyland in 1955. But a group of German immigrants marked the city's first claim to fame more than 100 years ago with wine grapes.

Founded in 1857, the Anaheim colony was situated on 1,165 acres. Settlers voted to call the community Annaheim, the "anna" referring to the Santa Ana River and "heim" meaning home in German. The name later was changed slightly, to Anaheim.

According to "The Orange County Experience,' by Louis Reichman and Gary Cardinale, the community quickly grew into what was then the state's wine capital,

Within 10 years, the German colony had 47 wineries and scores of vineyards. Unfortunately, a rash of plant viruses in the 1880s killed off most of the grapes, and residents began growing oranges.

Farmers initially hired Yaqui Indians from Mexico to dig ditches, then brought in Chinese laborers to work the crops. The Chinese carved out their own community near what is now downtown Anaheim, and set up businesses as merchants, tailors, barbers and laundry operators, according to Her Pruett, Anaheim Museum director.

Anaheim was content with citrus crops until 1955, when the Santa Ana (I-5) Freeway and Disneyland opened. City leaders immediately invested in tourism.

Today, the city spans 46 square miles and has over 311,000 residents, making it the largest and most populated city in Orange County.

It is also the wealthiest, with more than $1 billion in city assets.

The city-owned Anaheim Convention center has just completed a three year expansion and renovation, this new jewel has quickly become known as a regional architectural landmark. The newly renovated Edison International Field draws more than 3.9 million visitors annually to the Angel's baseball games, events and concerts. Anaheim is a leading manufacturing center in the county, with more than 1,000 firms.


Historical Sites:

Ramon Peralta Adobe Historic Site

6398 E. Santa Ana Canyon Rd.
Anaheim 92807
(714) 973-3190
Ramon Peralta Adobe is one of the last remaining structure of the Peralta settlement in Santa Ana Canyon. This site was home to the pioneering families of Orange County in the mid 1800's.
More Info

The Mother Colony House - 414 N. West St., Anaheim
Once the home of George Hansen, founder of Anaheim, the house is now a museum.
Phone: (714) 765-1850

North Gate of the City of Anaheim - Anaheim Blvd. & North St.
The original town site of Anaheim was surrounded by a living fence of willow trees to keep out livestock. This gate was one of four and allowed travel to and from the north. The gate no longer exists.
more info

Saint Michael's Episcopal Church - 311 W. South St.
Built in 1876, in English-country style, the church originally was at Emily and Adele streets in Anaheim. It was moved in 1955 to its present location. The church is still in use. image from: Anaheim Public Library
Phone: (714) 535-4654

Site of San Pedro Gate - Center St & Lincoln Ave West
This is the site of another of the four gates in the living willow fence that surrounded the original Anaheim townsite. The San Pedro Gate allowed travel to and from San Pedro. The gate no longer exists.



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