Orange, CA (OGE)
194 North Atchison Street
Orange, CA 92866
Note: Fiscal year is from
October through September.
City of Orange
City of Orange
City of Orange
Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA)
The Orange station not only serves the popular Amtrak Pacific Surfliner but it is also a stop for commuter rail and local bus services. This stop consists of platforms and covered shelters that protect travelers from inclement weather. The passenger areas sit adjacent to a vintage 1938 Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad (ATSF) depot consisting of a central pavilion flanked by two lower wings. Coated in white plaster, the building shines brilliantly in the California sun, and the roof is covered in red Spanish tiles. While the structure is identified with Spanish Revival architecture, it is a pared down version devoid of any sculptural ornament. This more utilitarian approach was popularized by the ATSF in many of the stations that it constructed in the Southwest and California from the 1920s to the 1940s. To the north of the depot, a freight room was added to the structure at a later date. Rather than architecturally reference its neighbor, the simple rectangular addition displays light Art Moderne touches such as a stepped marquee topped by a sign that vertically displays the name of the station stop. The ATSF depot was listed as a city historic landmark in 1990.
When the ATSF ended passenger service along this part of its network in 1971, the station was shuttered; the railroad removed many of the interior furnishings and the building sat empty until the 1990s, when the county and municipal governments of southern California backed a program to establish and grow a commuter rail system. Orange County Metrolink service started in1994, but it was not until 2007 that Amtrak began to stop at Orange. While the city revamped the platforms for commuter service, it also renovated the old depot, which has subsequently hosted a number of restaurants. In late 2009, a new $8 million pedestrian undercrossing was completed that allows commuters to safely travel between the north and southbound platforms, parking areas, and the bus turnabout.
In 1993, Orange officials released an “area specific plan” for the former industrial blocks surrounding the depot. This plan envisioned the train station as the center of a rejuvenated mixed-use neighborhood that would feature residential, office, and commercial space. Planners hoped that the proximity of commuter rail, Amtrak, and regional bus services would promote transportation-oriented development in which townspeople chose to use public transportation to perform daily activities and therefore cut down on automobile use.
Located in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, Orange has experienced major growth since 1993; thus in 2006, the city decided to update the depot area plan, an effort that should be completed by early 2011. Many of the goals remain the same, but extensive community input and new strategies have re-energized the concept of a vibrant neighborhood focused on the depot that emphasizes infill, new uses for historic industrial structures, and pedestrian-oriented development. One of the principle goals of the update is to create better connections between the depot and the downtown plaza. Only four blocks apart, improved pathways will encourage transit users to amble into downtown to visit the shops and restaurants for which Orange is known.
The California coast was first explored by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who worked for the Kingdom of Castile. In 1542 he claimed the region for Spain, but no settlements were planned; 60 years later the coast was mapped by Sebastián Vizcaíno. Although known by the Spaniards for more than 200 years, they did not establish settlements in California until the late 18th century when the Russian Empire began to take an interest in the area.
To secure the coast, King Carlos III authorized the creation of a chain of forts and missions to protect strategic sites that could be of future use to the Spanish Empire in North America. The first “presidio” or “fort” and mission complex was established at San Diego in 1769; that same year, the explorers passed through a beautiful valley that they named “Santa Ana” in honor of Saint Anne. In 1771, the Franciscan friars charged with running the missions established a community 30 miles to the northwest of present day Orange at San Gabriel, and in 1775 another mission was begun twenty-three miles to the southeast at San Juan Capistrano. The Franciscans worked toward the conversion of the region’s American Indians to Christianity, a stated goal of Spanish colonization.
American Indians were willingly or sometimes forcibly settled at the missions where the friars provided instruction not simply in religion, but also in crafts and skills such as tanning or woodworking. Those associated with Mission San Gabriel Arcángel were referred to as “Gabrieliño (“of Gabriel”). According to historic accounts, the Gabrieliños had populated the area encompassing present day Orange, and called themselves Tongva, meaning “people of the earth.” When Cabrillo sailed up the coast, the Tongva went out by canoe to great the explorer. Early visitors to the region recalled that the Tongva lived in dome-shaped dwellings made from local grasses laid over a wood form.
San Juan Capistrano and San Gabriel Arcángel became large and wealthy missions. Following Mexico’s independence from Spain in 1821, the missions were secularized and many of the buildings and land holdings were sold off to private owners who created large “ranchos” or ranches used primarily for sheep and cattle grazing. Many of the ranchos survived into the American period following the Mexican-American War of 1845-1848 and the resulting cession of California and much of the Southwest to the United States.
Like many of the towns in southern California, Orange sits on land that was once part of a great rancho that stretched from the seashore to the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana was one of the only landholdings granted by the Spanish authorities to an individual owner. Juan Pablo Grijalva, a soldier who participated in the first Spanish forays into the area, began grazing cattle in the area in the 1780s and subsequently requested the territory. Grijalva died before he gained title, but eventually the land was granted in 1810 to his son-in-law Jose Antonio Yorba and his grandson Juan Pablo Peralta.
In 1854, the Yorbas sold the majority of the rancho to José Andrés Sepúlveda who also owned lands formerly held by Mission San Juan Capistrano. Together his properties accounted for almost 50,000 acres.
The remainder of Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana was divided up in the 1860s. A Los Angeles-based law firm headed by eastern transplants Alfred Chapman and Andrew Glassell assisted the Yorbas and Peraltas in the effort. In lieu of cash, which was in short supply, the families paid the men in land; combined with their own purchases, Chapman and Glassell owned more than 9,000 acres of the rancho. In 1871, Chapman and Glassell hired Glassell’s brother William to survey part of his land and plat a town site. Forty acres were reserved for the town while a surrounding 600 acres were divided into 10-acre farms that could be irrigated from the waters of the nearby Santa Ana River.
Originally the new community was called Richland, but the developers were forced to change the name in 1873 when the post office informed them that another town by the same name already existed in the state. How and why “Orange” was chosen is not certain. Although today California is associated with citrus fruit such as oranges, they were not widely cultivated in the area until the early 20th century. Historians believe that the name could have two origins: Chapman and Glassell hoped that the settlement would become the county seat of the proposed “Orange County” formed from southern Los Angeles County, or perhaps it commemorated the fact that the Glassell family had ties to Orange County, Virginia—where they had lived on the Richland Plantation. Whatever the reason for choosing “Orange,” it turned out to be quite appropriate as the region became a major orange-grower and exporter. In fact, Chapman early experimented with orange trees on his ranch in the upper San Gabriel Valley.
Chapman and Glassell reserved eight lots at the center of the town to serve as a plaza; this public space had numerous precedents, as most of the region’s Spanish colonial towns were built with central plazas around which rose the principle institutions of the community. Orange’s two principle streets—named after Chapman and Glassell—met at the plaza, which until the late 1880s was really nothing more than a field. When ranchers and farmers from the surrounding area travelled into town to purchase goods, they often left their animals in the plaza area to graze, and local merchants encouraged this by building water troughs. Local women led by Alice Armor, a teacher, led the effort to beautify the space with a central fountain. By putting on a play and holding bake sales and other events, the ladies raised $535 for the three-tiered fountain which featured bird sculptures that spouted water from their beaks. Installed in 1887, it was later moved to the front of the library where it can still be admired. Over the years, the park was landscaped with palms and other trees, bushes, and flowers and walkways were added.
The community was primarily agricultural, and grains and grapes grown to produce raisins were popular crops. In the late 1880s, phylloxera blight hit the vineyards and killed most of the harvest. This disaster prompted many of the farmers to turn to citrus including oranges and lemons which did well in the soil and the temperate climate. Citrus became a viable option for farmers because of the railroads which could transport the fresh fruits to markets across the continent. Orange was lucky to gain connections to two railroads, the Southern Pacific (SP) and the ATSF.
By the 1870s, Los Angeles and San Francisco dominated Californian shipping and railroading. The foremost railroad in the state was the SP, which wanted to build a line south to connect to San Diego before the rival ATSF, then laying track through the Southwest, made it to the West Coast. By 1877 the SP had built south to neighboring Santa Ana. To obtain service, communities often had to offer the railroad land for a depot and perhaps cash to seal the deal. Small Orange was not capable of offering much and the SP bypassed the town although it was still accessible to farmers wanting to ship their produce.
Orange benefitted from the arrival of the ATSF in 1887 because the railroad built a depot a few blocks west of the plaza where the tracks met West Chapman Avenue. From 1880-1882, the California Southern (CS), an ATSF subsidiary, had driven a line northward along the coast through swamps and bogs from San Diego to Oceanside; from there it turned inward, crossing gullies and canyons that required numerous trestles and other infrastructure built by Chinese laborers. After years of building and lawsuits with the SP, the line reached Barstow in 1885. The route soon proved treacherous, as the portion through Temecula Canyon washed out in 1882 within a year of its opening.
Searching for a better path, the ATSF started to build the “Surf Line” that was to run through Orange County to meet the CS at Oceanside. It allowed a safer coastal link between San Diego and Los Angeles that avoided Temecula Canyon which washed out again in 1891 and was abandoned. In 1888 the Surf Line reached Oceanside to complete the link between San Diego and Los Angeles via towns such as Orange.
City leaders wisely donated $30,000 and land to the ATSF to coax it into establishing a depot in town. A year after entering Orange, the ATSF erected a typical one-storey rectangular combination depot that provided space for both passengers and freight. Covered in wood clapboard, it featured a gabled roof with two prominent cross gables whose ridges were accented by decorative crenellated trim. The gables all displayed eye-catching woodwork laid on a diagonal that created a sense of movement. Curved brackets supported a deep eave which ran around the structure and protected passengers from the hot sun and winter rains. In 1887 the ATSF donated a half acre of land south of the depot to the city for a park which later came to hold Orange’s veterans’ memorial.
For the first half of the 20th century, Orange was a regional leader in the orange and citrus sector. Numerous fruit packaging houses and other related facilities were built along the ATSF tracks. The farms outside of town supported small growers who eventually decided to band together to achieve greater savings on packaging and shipping based on scale. The Orange County Fruit Exchange was headquartered in Orange; it was a founding member of the Southern California Fruit Exchange, a cooperative organization founded in 1893 that marketed its members’ best citrus under the brand “Sunkist.” Both Valencia and Navel oranges did well in Southern California, and in 1929 the Orange County Fruit Exchange processed $12 million worth of fruit. It is estimated that in the 1920s, about one-third of Orange residents worked in the citrus industry.
The prosperity created from citrus products was made manifest in Orange by the comfortable residential neighborhoods abutting the downtown commercial district. The bungalows and other houses, along with the historic plaza, now form one of the largest National Register Historic Districts in California. Just north of the plaza is Chapman University, which moved to the site in 1954. It is considered one of the best small universities in the country, and is one of the oldest private institutions of higher learning in the state.
Orange is well-known for its extensive collection of antique shops, restaurants, and boutiques, many of which are arrayed around the plaza and the immediate blocks. One of the year’s biggest draws is the Orange International Street Fair held on Labor Day Weekend. For the past three decades, hungry attendees have delighted in the numerous food booths lining Chapman Avenue and Glassell Street that feature world cuisine; in addition, music, entertainment, crafts and other activities further celebrate the diverse peoples who call Orange home.
The Pacific Surfliner is primarily financed through funds made available by the California Department of Transportation. Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at this station which is served by four daily trains.
Federal law requires compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by 2010. The following is a list of items typically required for transportation and public facilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Please check the regulations for guidance or contact us for more information.
|Train information display system|
|Visual paging system|
|ADA compliant elevator|
|Accessible ticket counter|
|Accessible Customer Service office|
|ADA compliant signage|
|Flashing/audible safety alarm system|