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Walter & Cordelia Knott at original berry stand, with Model T Ford, 1928
photo courtesy of

Buena Park today is best known as the home of several world-famous tourist attractions, but the town originally was put on the map in the late 1800s by a Chicago businessman and the Santa Fe Railway.

In 1887, James A. Whitaker, a wholesale grocer from Chicago, bought 690 acres of the Stearns Rancho, part of what was once the sprawling Rancho Los Coyotes. Whitaker intended to create a cattle ranch, but Santa Fe Railway officials convinced him to use the land for a new town, according to "The Picture Story of Buena Park," compiled by H.A. "Hub" Chamberlain.

Whitaker filed his township papers in Los Angeles County (Orange County had not yet been formed) to create the town of Buena Park. The city was not incorporated until 1953.

Buena Park first became known as a dairy center, and both the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroads built there. The Lily Creamery started operations in Buena Park in 1889. With the exception of a few wineries, the creamery was the first industry in the city, according to Chamberlain's 1971 book.

Today, the city's main claim to fame is as the home of Knott's Berry Farm, Medieval Times (where knights joust before crowds of diners) and Movieland Wax Museum. The city has grown from about 1,000 people in 1900 to more than 77,000 people today and covers about 10 square miles.

Buena Park's five-member City Council recently has embarked on ambitious redevelopment plans to help revitalize its economic base with more retail and commercial businesses while also updating the city's entertainment and tourist corridor along Beach Boulevard.

City officials attribute much of the Buena Park's physical and financial growth to the Knott family. Tourism generated by the Knott' amusement park is the single largest source of revenue for the city. Walter Knott and his family arrived in Buena Park in 1920 and began farming on 10 acres of rented land. Eight years later, the family built a permanent roadside stand where berries and plants were sold. In 1934, Cordelia Knott, using her own wedding china, served customers her first chicken dinners at 65 cents each. In 1940, Walter Knott began assembling his Ghost Town attraction as a diversion for hungry patrons waiting for their chicken dinners.

Historical Sites:

Knott's Berry Farm and Old Maizeland School - 8039 Beach Blvd
Walter Knott founded the present-day amusement park in 1920 as a 10-acre berry farm. He later added a tea room and a berry market. Old Maizeland School was built in 1868 in the county of Maizeland (later the city of Rivera, now Pico /Rivera in Los Angeles County. The one-room school was donated to Knott's in 1959. Both Knott's Berry Farm and the school are marked with plaques.


Whitaker--Jaynes Estate Park
Two historic homes: The Bacon House and the Whitaker--Jaynes House. Andrew West Whitaker built his house in 1887 upon his arrival from Indiana. His brother James bought 690 acres of land to establish a cattle ranch, but ended up subdividing the property and creating the city of Buena Park. The house was sold to Issac Jaynes in 1903, and his family resided in it till 1965. The city created this park out of the house grounds, and it is maintained by the Buena Park Hitorical Society. The Whitaker--Jaynes house is furnished with authentic furnishings from that time period, including a bedroom set that belonged to Cordelia Knott. The Bacon House, built in 1884 in the single wall style of construction. It was moved from the original site and restored at the Estate Park to Celebrate the Bicentennial. Original Bacon Family heirlooms may be seen inside the house.

The Whitaker-Jaynes and Bacon Houses are open to the Public by the Buena Park Historical Society, FREE of charge. Call for appointment or for current hours.

7842 Whitaker Ave
Buena Park, CA
(714) 562-3570

Please join us on the following pages to find out about
Buena Park lodging, Buena Park hotels and places
to stay in and around the city.

Within our pages you will find Buena Park entertainment and Buena Park attractions. We proudly showcase the finest Buena Park shopping and Buena Park services to suit every lifestyle. For Buena Park dining, we have a list of great restaurants either in the city or near by. We are also dedicated to presenting the best of Buena Park business and professional services to meet your needs.

If you're interested in the history of Buena Park, it can be found along with Buena Park general information, Buena Park educational resources plus Buena Park real estate and housing information for both residents and visitors alike. Annual events in Buena Park and links to local organizations in Buena Park are listed so you may participate in all the city has to offer.

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The Staff of


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