Buena Park is a city in northwestern Orange County, California, about 12 miles (20 km) northwest of downtown Santa Ana, the county seat. As of Census 2010 the population was 80,530. The city, which tags itself as Center of the Southland, is home to several tourist attractions, most notably Knott's Berry Farm. It is located within the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
Original Spanish explorers settled on the enormous ranchos by land grants made by the King of Spain. Manuel Nieto of the Portol%uFFFD expeditions received such a grant in 1783, which was divided by his heirs into five separate ranchos in 1834. One of them, 46,806-acre (189.42 km2) Rancho Los Coyotes, included the current site of the City of Buena Park. The rancho%uFFFDs adobe headquarters lay on what is now Los Coyotes Country Club%uFFFDs golf course.
The area was transferred from Spanish authority to Mexican rule in 1822 and ceded to the United States in 1848 at the end of the Mexican%uFFFDAmerican War. California was granted statehood in 1850. Americanization further expanded in the area after completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 and its connection to Los Angeles in 1875. By then, Abel Stearns had acquired Rancho Los Coyotes in consideration for loans made to Pio and Andr%uFFFDs Pico. In 1885, James A. Whitaker, a wholesale grocer from Chicago, purchased 690 acres (2.8 km2) of this land from Stearns. In 1887, Whitaker founded the City of Buena Park in conjunction with the railway development of what we now know as Orange County.
The exact derivation of the name Buena Park is uncertain. One theory is that Whitaker used the name of a Chicago suburb: Buena Park, Illinois, although the community in Illinois was also named in 1887. Another theory relates to the artesian well and its park-like grounds once located at the current intersection of what are now Artesia Blvd. and Beach Blvd. Local settlers referred to the area as "Plaza Buena" which means "good park" in Spanish.
The city was incorporated on January 27, 1953. An agricultural center when founded (particularly dairy, wine and citrus products), Buena Park is now primarily a residential suburb and commercial hub.
Points of interest
Buena Park's E-Zone district, located along Beach Boulevard, is home to several well-known tourist destinations: the venerable Knott's Berry Farm theme park and its sister water park Knott's Soak City, Pirate's Dinner Adventure Show, and a Medieval Times dinner show. The E-Zone has also been home to the Movieland Wax Museum, one of the largest of its kind in the world until it closed in 2005; a Ripley's Believe It or Not! museum, across the street from the Wax Museum; and the Japanese Village and Deer Park on Knott Avenue.
Los Coyotes Country Club, located in the northeast of the city, boasts a 27-hole championship course originally designed by Billy Bell in 1957 and redesigned by Ted Robinson in 1998. The Los Coyotes LPGA Classic golf tournament has been hosted there.
The 105-acre Ralph B. Clark Regional Park (originally Los Coyotes Regional Park), nestled at the foot of the West Coyote Hills, is one of Orange County's prominent parks. Opened in 1981, it is home to an amphitheater, nature trails, and a stocked fishing pond, as well as the Interpretive Center, a small museum which features ice age fossil and local geology exhibits.
The City of Buena Park has its own local history park on Beach Blvd just south of Interstate 5. On these grounds, the city has preserved several historic buildings. These include the Whitaker-Jaynes House (which serves as the city's local history museum) the Bacon House - possibly the oldest surviving structure from the area, the Stage Stop Hotel (which houses the California Welcome Center-Orange County) and the Tice House. The Buena Park Historical Society manages and maintains the historical content of the museum. The Dreger Clock, a 75-year-old multi-faced street clock, best known for the time it spent at Knott's Berry Farm, was installed in front of the Whitaker/Jaynes house overlooking Beach Blvd in September 2009 after a two-year restoration project.
A Nabisco factory on Artesia Boulevard was known for many years as a Buena Park landmark. The red "Nabisco" sign was visible from the I-5 Freeway, and visitors to the town could often smell cookies. The factory produced Honey Maid graham crackers, Ritz Crackers, and Nilla Wafers, among other Nabisco products, before shutting down in 2006.
According to the City's 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
Supermarket chain 99 Ranch Market is based in Buena Park.
In 2010, Arturo Gutierrez and Kennedy High School soccer formed the Buena Park FC - a soccer club based in Buena Park. Originated as an indoor soccer team, Buena Park FC is now competing in the Coast Soccer League's First Division.
Buena Park is home to one of the 13 special district libraries in California. The Buena Park Library District is a single-purpose library district governed by an elected Board of Trustees, and has as its principal source of income through property tax proration. The library's early history is much like other communities: it operated on and off as a volunteer operation beginning in 1905 at several temporary locations with donated books. It was formally established as a library district through the efforts of the Buena Park Woman's Club in 1919. The current facility's construction was completed in early 1969 financed by a bond measure passed by the citizens of Buena Park on June 6, 1967. The community's library holds over 125,000 library materials.
The city is served by seven different school districts. Buena Park School District covers nearly the entire northern half of the city, which feeds into the Fullerton Joint Union High School District, while the districts of Centralia, Cypress, Magnolia, and Savanna serve the remainder of the city, feeding into the Anaheim Union High School District. Buena Park High School is the only high school within city limits. Kennedy, Savanna, Sunny Hills and Western high schools also all serve the city's students, but are in either Fullerton, La Palma or Anaheim.
Gordon H Beatty, Arthur F. Corey, Charles G. Emery (a 2011 Blue Ribbon Award winner), Carl E. Gilbert, Mabel L. Pendleton and James A. Whitaker Elementary Schools along with Buena Park Junior High are the seven schools that make up the Buena Park School District.