A Brief History of Riverside, CA
The city of Riverside, in Riverside County, CA, is steeped in history; most notably for being the origin of California’s famous citrus industry, and the innovation of refrigerated train carriages to transport oranges and goods across the US. The booming industries saw the city become the richest city in the entire United States by 1895, and at that time attracted movie stars, royalty, and even Presidents to stay at its plush hotels, including the famous and beautiful Mission Inn which is still in business today. Here is a brief history of Riverside, CA, and how its culture has survived to present day.
The Citrus Industry in Riverside, CA
Riverside is renowned for being the birthplace of CA’s famous citrus industry – you’d be forgiven for thinking this would most likely have been Orange County, but that is not the case! The city was founded in the early 1870's and the first citrus trees were planted there around the same time, after the trees’ importation from Bahia, Brazil.
The same trees were also planted in Florida, but unfortunately did not thrive like the successful plantations in California. In just over a decade, by 1882 there were a phenomenal 500,000 citrus trees growing in California, over half of which grew in Riverside. One of the original orange trees still stands in the city to this day, protected by an iron fence at a busy intersection.
The Mission Inn in Riverside, CA
This hotel began its life as a small guesthouse originally known as the Glenwood Tavern, and was built in a Spanish Mission Revival style of architecture: it features villa-style roofing, a beautiful centerpiece clock, large spiral staircases and skybridges connecting the wings. Over the years, many different architects have added to the building, meaning it now features various styles of architecture.
Many famous guests have visited, honeymooned and even married at the hotel – 37th President, Richard Nixon, was married in its Presidential Lounge, while Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy chose it as their honeymoon spot. A host of other past and present famous faces have also stayed there, including Albert Einstein and previous Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Clark Gable, Jeff Goldblum, and Leonardo DiCaprio are just some actors who have shot scenes for films in the hotel.
Arts and Culture
The Riverside Fox Theater (now known as the Fox Performing Arts Center) is a landmark of the city’s art and culture initiative, having been built in 1929 in a similar Spanish Revival architectural style to the Mission Inn hotel. The theater is most famous for hosting the premier screening of the 1939 romance film, Gone with the Wind.
It was also the site of many Hollywood film previews between the 1930's and 40's, as the demographic of the city was considered to be representative of small-town USA by film producers. During World War II, it was used a temporary dormitory for soldiers when all military bases in the area were full.
The single-screen theater is still open today as a live event venue, now owned and operated by Live Nation.
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