Dr. Andrew G. Mortensen and our entire team of dental health professionals at Advanced Dental Implants are proud to be located in Fountain Valley, CA, a city with a rich and fascinating history. And we are grateful for the wisdom of our city’s founders and planners who took precautions to guarantee that Fountain Valley will continue to be a great place to live and work for the foreseeable future.
The Tongva People: Fountain Valley’s Original Residents
The area that would eventually be christened Fountain Valley, CA was originally populated by the Tongva people, a powerful group of indigenous Native American who dominated the region. Spanish explorers originally explored this region as early as 1542, but significant contact between the Spanish and the Tongva occurred mainly after the construction of Mission San Gabriel Arcángel in 1771.
The Tongva did not take kindly to Spanish rule and they were in a constant state of rebellion. The Spanish government eventually gave up on their strategy of using missions to settle the region. Instead, they decided to sell the land to wealthy ranchers in hopes that this would spur greater economic growth. Unfortunately, this development accelerated the assimilation of the Tongva people, which led to the death of their language and the destruction of their culture.
Fountain Valley Is Transferred From Spain To Mexico And Then To The United States
Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821 and the new government continued to promote the ranchero policy in Alta (upper) California, as the region was then called. But the political and cultural future of California would be dramatically altered by the United States’ victory in the Mexican-American War. California, as well as the land that would become the basis for several Western states, was ceded to the United States by Mexico as a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848.
Settlers from all over the world began to stream into Northern California as a consequence of the Gold Rush of 1849. However, the early American settlement of Southern California was not nearly so rapid. At this time, efforts to populate the Fountain Valley area where further stymied by the region’s swampy geography.
Rich Soil And Abundant Water—The Natural Treasures Of Fountain Valley
In the 1870s, a severe drought dried up the marshes of Fountain Valley to the point where people discovered that they were actually sitting on top of some very rich farmland. The settlers soon began to construct drainage canals to make the land more suitable for farming. As a result of their efforts, “early pioneers grew field crops which included sugar beets, beans, barley and wheat” while “cattle grazed on portions of land not being used for growing crops.”
Soon after that, the development of the farming industry was dramatically accelerated by local residents, who took matters into their own hands. Amazingly, “when pioneer James T. Talbert formed a drainage district in 1903 that channeled the wandering Santa Ana River, land values jumped from $10 to $500 an acre.” From that point until the 1960s, Fountain Valley, would continue to develop as a farming community.
The Water In Fountain Valley Comes Right Out Of The Ground
And the city’s abundant stores of underground water were a great resource for local farmers. Dan Gibb, author of “A History of Fountain Valley” describes in the Orange County Register how “There are stories of farmers hitting these wells with shovels.” Gibb continues, “Water would start gushing. Japanese farmers would use reeds to cause the water to spray out over the land like a fountain. Water became our oil.”
With all the underground water and the terrific soil, agriculture in Fountain Valley thrived. And the city “remained a field crop area, producing beans and sugar beets, until the middle 1930’s”. But from the middle of the 1930s onward, “truck farming” dominated Fountain Valley’s produce output with the harvesting of “truck crops, such as strawberries, cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, corn, beans, lettuce carrots, spinach, onions, tomatoes, broccoli, parsley, peas and squash.”
Fountain Valley’s Monumental Postwar Expansion
The post-WWII era unleashed a period of rapid population growth and economic expansion in Southern California. And Fountain Valley was no exception to this trend. The sudden rapid growth of the region spurred the process of incorporation for Fountain Valley as town leaders feared that they would be swallowed up by an adjacent city: “The 1950s brought freeways and talk of incorporation to fend off possible annexation to the cities of Santa Ana or Garden Grove.”
It’s Official–Fountain Valley Becomes A City
In 1957 Fountain Valley was incorporated as the 21st city in Orange County, California. Although the city was referred to by locals as “Talbert” or “Gospel Swamp,” “supporters of an independent city favored a return to what they considered the town’s original name–Fountain Valley.”
Fountain Valley’s Farsighted General Plan Fosters Intelligent Growth
Despite its accelerated expansion, Fountain Valley was able to avoid the pitfalls of growth that many other Southern California cities succumbed to. Due to the foresight of its citizens, Fountain Valley was successful in maintaining its historic character as it developed in a rational, well thought out manner.
Today, many architects and observers credit the city’s General Plan, which was adopted in 1962, for Fountain Valley’s smooth transition from a farming community to a modern suburb. According to “city officials and historians” this plan “showed amazing foresight and led to an ordered urbanization, rather than the chaos that ensues in some communities.”
Fountain Valley was the first city in Orange County to adopt a master plan, and city engineers throughout Southern California continue to marvel at the good sense that the city’s designers exhibited. “The plan is simple yet effective: all major streets run north-south and all major avenues run east-west; one area is zoned for commercial or industrial use, another for a business district, and yet another space for residential.”
Fountain Valley Navigates Through Boom Times
Despite this rapid influx of new citizens, agriculture remained the dominant industry in Fountain Valley until the 1960s. But as new residents continued to flow into Fountain Valley from across the country, much of the good farmland was paved over and new industries began to form.
As the Orange County Register explains, “The City of Fountain Valley was changing rapidly, especially in terms of population, which boomed from an estimated 2,185 in 1957 to 32,000 in 1970 according to the U.S. Census.” Alongside this accelerated population growth, “the city slowly modernized from farmlands to suburban areas.” This trend is consistent with what was occurring throughout the region.
A Vibrant Community
Today when you visit Fountain Valley, the wisdom of its city planners is obvious, as the city’s neighborhoods blend together gracefully. You won’t find the type of jarring dissimilarities that are apparent in other Southern California cites that endured the same type of accelerated population growth.
Thankfully, the enormous postwar expansion of Southern California has levelled off and the population of Fountain Valley has stabilized. In 2010, the United States Census reported that the city had a population of 55,313. The city now enjoys a diverse population and a multifarious economy.
Our Diversified Economy
According the city’s 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, it’s top twelve employers are:
- Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center, 1668 employees
- Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, 1.133 employees
- Kingston Technology, 859 employees
- SureFire, 569 employees
- Ceridan, 466 employees
- Costco, 410 employees
- Hyundai Motor America, 387 employees
- Hyundai Capital, 309 employees
- Fry’s Electronics, 304 employees
- D-Link, 230 employ
- HCR Manor Care, 220 employees
Celebrating 60 Years Since Incorporation
On June 13 of this year, Fountain Valley will be celebrating its 60th year as an incorporated city. Many festivities are planned for this august occasion, including a parade and fireworks. We sincerely hope that you can join in the celebration.