Newport Beach History
Newport Beach is home to several islands (Balboa, Lido, Linda to name a few) and villages, little enclaves nestled along the Balboa Peninsula. Theis upscale city -- home to TV's "The O.C." (mostly filmed outside in Palos Verdes and the main house on a sound stage) -- boasts some of the most expensive real estate in Southern California, or the world for that matter. Newport Beach wasn't always such a wondeful and desirable place to live. It wasn't even always expensive. Some of the islands we mentioned didn't even exist not such a short time ago.
In the mid-1800s, the state sold parts of Harbor, Balboa and Lido islands for $1 an acre as "swamp and overflow land," according to the Newport Beach Historical Society. Just a few short years later, brothers James and Robert McFadden capitalized on the region's potential. In 1888, they moved their shipping business from the inner shores of Newport Bay to the deeper waters of the oceanfront. McFadden Wharf soon became the largest business in the region.
A large portion of present day Balboa Island was man made form dredging the dirt created from dredging the bay. That has to be some of the most expensive land ever created from waste from another project.
Attracted by the area's growth, the Pacific Electric Railroad established itself in Newport in 1905. A trolley system carried commuters and sightseers to the cities, fruit groves and beach communities of Southern California. Rapid transit brought families to the waterfront, and small hotels and cottages sprang up to cater to the burgeoning tourist industry.
West Newport, East Newport, Bay Island and Balboa became vacation communities during this beach boom. In 1906, the villages were incorporated as the city of Newport Beach. In 1924, the city also annexed the village of Corona del Mar. Two years later, the Pacific Coast Highway was built through the city, bringing more tourists and residents into the area.
In 1936, the city dedicated Newport Harbor. The harbor became a vital hub for warships during World War II, and Newport Beach flourished with the influx of military personnel.
When Disneyland first opened you had to drive through Dairyland (present day Cerritos) past the odiferous but intersting dairy operations to get from the South Bay to Anaheim. It was a far cry from the trip down the 405 to the 22.
In the 1950s, the Santa Ana Freeway brought even more residents to the region. For the first time it was an easy drive from LA to Newport. During this time, housing developments began to spread inland from the waterfront to the hills and mesa areas. By the 1970s, rapid urbanization led to the construction of more homes along with upscale shopping centers, hotels and restaurants.
Newport Beach residents still identify closely with their respective villages. The littel enclaves have quite the name power to them. From Big Canyon to Newport Coast. From Spyglass to Linda Isle. Some of the more popular neighborhoods include Corona del Mar, West Newport, and Harbor, Lido and Balboa islands.
Many of Newport Beach's activities are centered around the water, much like the city itself.
The eight-block Cannery Village was once center of the city's fishing industry. It now hosts restaurants, antique shops, galleries and a popular area called "Montmartre by the Sea," where artists paint and display their works.
Newport Harbor is crowded with fishing and tour boats, and its streets are busy with shoppers browsing Fashion Island, an open-air mall with more than 200 stores, restaurants and theaters. Catch a boat to Catalina Island, or take a ride around the Balboa Peninsula, which separates Newport Bay from the Pacific.
You also can take the ferry over to Balboa Island. The charming community is home to dozens of gift shops, restaurants and the Balboa Fun Zone amusement park. Balboa Island offers a great view of the historic Balboa Pavilion, located just across the bay.
Back on the mainland, take a break at the Orange County Museum of Art, or visit the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum for more on the region's maritime history.
At the south end of the city, you'll find the village of Corona del Mar. In this "Crown of the Sea," all the streets are named for flowers, and the community is filled with unique stores and eateries. A visit to Corona del Mar isn't complete without a tour of the Sherman Library and Gardens. And Inspiration Point provides breathtaking views of Newport Bay and Catalina Island.
A great place for nature lovers to visit is the The Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve & Nature Preserve. Located on one of the last remaining wetlands in Southern California, the preserve is home to nearly 200 species of birds, including several endangered species, as well as numerous mammals, fish and native plants.
Newport Beach is home to the Christmas Boat Parade, which began in 1908 when gondolier John Scarpa sailed around the bay, leading a line of boats alit by Japanese lanterns. The tradition continues today and has grown into quite a show.
Other annual events include the Newport Beach Festival of the Arts, the Newport-to-Ensenada Yacht Race, Taste of Newport and the Newport Beach Film Festival.
Newport Beach Fast Facts
Location: Newport Beach is located between Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach, about 25 miles from Long Beach
*Total area: 39.85 square miles (14.78 square miles land area; 25.07 square miles water area)
*Housing units: 37,288
Average annual rainfall: 11.65 inches
Average temperatures: 69ºF in summer, 56ºF in winter
*Information provided by 2000 Census
There are 29 public schools in Newport Beach: 21 elementary schools, two middle/intermediate schools and six high schools.
For More Information on Schools Go to Our Newport Beach Education Page
Newport Beach is home to a six-mile strip of sand that lies along the Balboa Peninsula, between Newport Bay and the Pacific. For parents with small children, the peninsula's inside beaches offer several quiet spots. Balboa Beach features bike paths, surfing and volleyball along with swimming and sunning. West Jetty View Park, at the tip of Balboa Peninsula, has a bike path and areas for surfing and hiking. And for the more adventurous, the peninsula's Wedge is the hot spot for swimming and body-surfing.
The Newport Municipal Beach is at the oceanfront near Newport Pier. This popular gathering spot has lifeguards, showers, picnic tables and fire pits for those wanting to stay near land, as well as the traditional offerings of swimming, diving, fishing and surfing for those who love the water.
Corona del Mar offers beautiful sand beaches and coves that look like they came right out of a movie set. In fact, many of them have -- you may recognize the area from the opening scene of TV's "Gilligan's Island."
Rocky Point and Little Corona del Mar Beach offer no facilities but free street parking for those wanting to swim, fish or surf. Corona del Mar State Beach is a popular place for swimmers. The half-mile long sandy beach is framed by cliffs and a rock jetty that forms the east entrance to Newport Harbor.
Just south of Corona del Mar, you'll find Crystal Cove State Park, a stretch of coastal cliffs, coves and sandy shores. There are three distinct beaches within the park: Reef Point, Pelican Point and Los Trancos. Besides beach activities, Crystal Cove also offers fishing, diving, bike trails and wildlife viewing areas.