Anaheim may be a major California city, but it was founded by a vineyard company back in 1857. While a lot of people were concentrated on the gold rush at that time, a group of 50 German-Americans from San Francisco bought the land Anaheim sits on for $2 per acre. The town got its name from the Santa Ana River which runs nearby and “Heim” which means home in German.
The founders formed the Anaheim Vineyard Group and intended to make grow grapes and make wine, but no one in the company actually had any experience with wine. They were mostly carpenters and other tradesmen but felt that wine would be a surefire way to make good on their investment in the area.
Their lack of knowledge of grapes didn’t stop the town from growing and soon there were homes, a town center, hotels, and a town newspaper. In 1884 a disease wiped out all of the grapevines and other cash crops were chosen in their place. The continental tailored connected Anaheim to LA in 1887 and helped boost the profile of Anaheim. Despite this, the community remained mostly rural and populated by farmers with orange groves until 1954 when work on Disneyland started.
When Disneyland opened its doors in 1955 it was an instant hit and hotels and motels surrounding the major tourist destination quickly popped up leading to the demise of most of the orange groves and the start of the massive city growth that took place over the following few decades. Between 1970 and 2000 Anaheim quickly saw its population boom and today is one of California’s most populated cities.
Disneyland continued to expand and in 1990 Anaheim officially recognized the resort area as a tourist destination. Today the downtown of Anaheim still features many historical features and is often referred to as the Colony Historic District. In fact, the Mother Colony House downtown is the oldest museum in Orange County. Today the city of the population is over 330,000 people and is mostly comprised of families with a heavy concentration of Hispanic or Latino citizens.