The thousands of acres of navel orange groves that once blanketed Riverside, California, were one of the most recognizable icons of the state's early citrus industry and also the origin for California's nickname, "The Golden State." Founded as a utopian colony in the wake of the Civil War, Riverside soon began to lure wealthy foreign and eastern investors who turned their sights towards Riverside where the perfect combination of sun, soil, and water turned the opportunity of citrus growing into a multimillion-dollar industry. Twenty-five years after Riverside's founding, millions of dollars of investments had transformed the small agricultural outpost into the wealthiest city per capita in the nation. The city's "Orange Barons" invested their money by building stately Victorian mansions and imposing brick commercial buildings. Others lured additional investors by creating parks with tropical plant gardens, formal avenues landscaped with rare and beautiful trees, and a carefully designed downtown area with beautiful churches, hotels, and civic buildings.
About the Author
In this history of Riverside from its founding in 1870 to 1940, local historian Steve Lech has combed the archives of the Riverside Local History Center and the Riverside Metropolitan Museum to illustrate the unique story of this inland city.