Costa Mesa

Is Costa Mesa the home of the 2019 Orange County Laureate? Here are some details we learned of this Orange County City.


Costa Mesa. This little town has been known as “the city of the arts” since 1999, and as such, is yet another little-known California gem. Incorporated in June of 1953, with a population of merely 16,840, Costa Mesa exploded in the decades after, having a population of 90,000 by 1988.

Costa Mesa, originally known as the town of Harper, was off to a pretty solid start by the late 1880s, housing tourists and visitors to the hot sulfur springs that were close by. There is no holding back Mother Nature when she decides to strike, and in 1889, a storm washed away the new Santa Ana and Newport Railroad and reverted the growing community back to a farming area once again. However, the town soon began to rebuild. On May 11, 1920, Harper changed its name and officially became the town of Costa Mesa, “coastal tableland,” and took on its calling as an agricultural community.

Even the Depression couldn’t keep Costa Mesa down, because the building of the Santa Ana Army Air Base for WWII brought thousands of people both during and after the war, contributing to the population explosion.

Visitors to the area can attend the Pacific Symphony, or watch a play at the South Coast Repertory Theater. The Sergerstrom Center for the Arts and the Rene and Henry Sergerstrom Concert Hall can both hold over 1,000 people. History buffs can visit one of the many museums detailing the city’s help and impact on the Allied fight in World War II. In addition, San Juan Capistrano is very close to Costa Mesa- just “six Spanish leagues southeast,” in fact—so lucky visitors could also explore Mission San Juan.

Know someone who inspires and has contributed to their community? Know someone that is creative and intelligent, and enjoys sharing that with others? Don’t forget to nominate a friend or neighbor for the Orange County Laureate by October 31st at



Written by Morgan Wilson. Please email us if you would like to recommend additional reading resources on this topic. For more information on this city please visit the following references:

As a nonprofit organization dedicated to storytelling, we want to honor storytellers in our own backyard. Now is the time to nominate Orange County community members who inspire you, through storytelling, community engagement, or education (art, literature, music, history, science, technology). Nominate the neighbors who inspire you.


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