Riverside – Orange Metropolis in Southern California

Back then, more precisely in 1871, three orange trees were planted in a small settlement in California. Today, less than 150 years later, this plantation in Riverside has become an industry that has brought a lot of work and wealth to California and supplies the world with around 90 million boxes of navel oranges annually.

It is quite possible that America is still the land of opportunity. But it was definitely the end of the 19th century. This is proven not least by this little story. Each of the 90 million boxes that find their way out of Riverside into the world every year contain 20 kilos of navel oranges. It’s healthy and sounds delicious, but it shouldn’t be the only reason to visit Riverside. The twelfth largest city in California, which is also the capital of Riverside County, has a lot more to offer besides delicate citrus blossoms.

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Fertile earth and the scent of herbs

You don’t even have to make a big detour to visit Riverside. Anyone who is in Los Angeles anyway should treat themselves to at least a short detour to the city located around 90 miles to the east. There Riverside stretches, as the name suggests, picturesquely on the banks of the Santa Ana River.

The city was officially founded in 1870, but the region was discovered earlier. As early as 1774, the Spaniard Juan Bautista de Anza described the area as the “Valley of Paradise” (Valle de Paraiso) because it smelled so wonderfully of herbs. His expedition, during which he was supposed to scout a land connection between Mexico and California, took him past there again a good year later. He stayed with his men for a few days before finally crossing the river. Today, a statue more than six meters high commemorates de Anza, the first certified fan of Riverside. Many should follow him, including various presidents of the United States.

Before that, of course, John North had to sign the deed of incorporation for Riverside and get urban development going. North had already founded a city in Minnesota with Northfield and had come together in California with like-minded Republicans from the east coast for further projects. These donors brought their traditions and preferences with them. So not only was the first golf course in southern California built in Riverside, but also the first facility for polo players. At the same time, however, the first residents were also teetotalers. The town’s young saloons soon went bankrupt; the hosts emigrated.

Immortal luxury and a touch of old Spain

But Riverside only really got going with the orange industry. As early as 1895, the trees – now more than half a million in number – and their fruits had made Riverside the city with the highest per capita income in the USA. You could see that in her. Not only blooming and fragrant orange groves shaped the cityscape, but also magnificent public buildings and spacious private villas. Together with a dry, mild Mediterranean climate, this attracted more and more celebrities. Whether actors, entrepreneurs or influential politicians; they all came to Riverside either to live here for the full or at least to spend their vacation. The “Mission Inn” (3649 Mission Inn Ave, missioninn.com) of these heydays, which admittedly have passed by now. Nevertheless, a visit to the luxury hotel should still be part of a trip to Riverside today. It has lost none of its beautiful location, its many architectural references and the charm of a bygone era. The house, which today offers a spacious spa area and is one of America’s historic hotels, is furnished in the style of a Spanish mission station.

From big cinema to big theater

The Riverside Fox Theater (3801 Mission Inn Ave, riversidefoxfoundation.org). The film “Gone with the Wind” premiered here in 1939. In the meantime, thanks to extensive renovations, the cinema has become a large theater and event location, in which famous Broadway productions are also shown. Today the theater can seat around 1,600 spectators.

A completely different sight awaits visitors in front of a former factory on Iowa Street. There it says, believe it or not largest paper cup in the world. “Dixie Cup”, as the monument is called, is a proud 20.8 meters high. If you like curiosities, you’ve come to the right place.

Out into the green

A trip to Fairmount Park on State Route 60 is a bit more conventional. riversideca.gov/park_rec/facilities.asp). This beautifully landscaped green lung of the city was created by the private investor Frederick L. Olmstedt. Not only can visitors take a deep breath here, but animals too. The park offers numerous bird species as well as a habitat that has become scarce for water dwellers.

The green at Riverside is of course not exhausted. If you still long for nature despite the many tree-lined avenues, you will not be disappointed on the periphery of Riverside. Whether Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park or Box Spring Mountain Park, whether Belvedere Heights or Lake Perris State Recreation Area – right on or very close to the city there are wonderful opportunities for outdoor activities or simply staying in the fresh air and beautiful scenery. Those who want to pay their last respects to fallen soldiers and members of the US military can do so at the extremely well-kept Riverside National Cementery (22495 Van Buren Blvd, March Air Reserve Base, cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/riverside.asp) to do.

Riverside in a nutshell

  • The statue of Juan Bautista de Anza stands at the intersection of Market Street and 14th Street
  • Tea (or champagne) at the Mission Inn spa hotel
  • Broadway productions are performed at the Riverside Fox Theater
  • The “Dixie Cup” paper cup is on Iowa Street
  • Fairmount Park on State Route 60 offers peace and quiet
  • The National Cemetery invites you to pause

Riverside - Orange Metropolis in Southern California

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