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The History

Just how Cypress got its name is a bit of a mystery. The city never had many cypress trees, local historians say. In fact, it once was called Dairy City after its principal residents - dairy cows.

Civic leaders settled on the name Cypress when the city incorporated in 1956, and legend has it that cypress trees planted around the town's first school gave the area its name. But in one old school photograph unearthed by a city historian, no such trees appear.

Today the dairy farms are gone and Cypress, in northwest Orange County, is an urban community striving for a balance of industrial and residential development.

It is the corporate home of several national and international companies, shopping centers and the Los Alamitos Race Course. The race track represents the single-largest source of tax revenue for the city.

But 100 years ago, a traveler to the area would have found only flat grassland, said local Cypress historians. By the late 1890's, the area - then called Waterville because of numerous nearby artesian wells - was primarily an agricultural community. Sugar beets were among the crops grown.

In 1895, the Cypress School District was started, apparently named after a school built in 1887 at the corner of Moody and Ball roads.

There seems to be no information on why Cypress was the name given to the school and later to the district - the school didn't have any trees. In any case, once Cypress became the name of the school district, people started calling the area Cypress.

The first US post office opened in 1929, and the first railroad depot opened in 1906. In 1928, Texaco developed a 144-acre site off Ball Road as an oil-storage dept. The storage yard was active until 1987, when plans began to develop the site into the city's last large-scale housing tract.

The dairy industry flourished after 1910, and at its peak in the 1940s and 1950s, Cypress had about 1,700 people and 100,000 cows. However, by the mid-1960s the rising cost of land in Orange County drove the dairy industry farther inland to places like Chino.

Today, after a building boom in the 1960s and 1970s, nearly all of the land in Cypress is developed.


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