Downtown Santa Ana (DTSA), also known as Downtown Orange County, is Santa Ana’s historic city core and the county capital of Orange County, California. It serves as the institutional core for both the city of Santa Ana and Orange County, as well as a retail and business hub, and has recently grown significantly as a regional cultural, entertainment, and culinary center for Orange County.
The Downtown Santa Ana Historic Districts, which include numerous historic structures around the city, are classified with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
William Spurgeon founded Santa Ana in 1869 on 74.27 acres (300,600 m2) of property obtained from the historic Spanish land grant, Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana. William Spurgeon and James McFadden established the County of Orange in 1889. Santa Ana was chosen as the county seat of government because it has grown more rapidly than neighboring towns such as Orange. The town grew into the county’s principal economic and political hub after the construction of the Old Orange County Courthouse in 1901. The Santa Ana Historical Downtown is made up of the surrounding historic town structures.
Downtown is commonly defined by city studies and commercial associations as the area between Ross Street on the west, Minter Street on the east, First Street on the south, and Civic Center Drive on the north.
Downtown is defined by neighborhood associations as extending only as far east as Main Street, with the area east of Main considered part of the Lacy neighborhood; the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center rail and bus station is located at the east end of Lacy along Santiago Avenue.
Districts of Historic Interest
The Downtown Santa Ana Historic Districts are numerous historic districts designated as a single entry in the National Register of Historic Places since 1984, comprising 24.5-acre (9.9 hectare) and marked by a number of Art Deco structures as well as two vintage cinema theatres (The West End and the Fox West Coast). The county’s first courthouse, now a museum, and the Dr. Willella Howe-Waffle House and Medical Museum, now the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society, are both located here at Civic Center and Broadway streets. Walker’s Theater, the county’s first theater, was built in 1909 on Main and Second streets, near to the old City Hall. The Main Street Studio Lofts presently stand where the county’s first movie theater formerly stood. On June 20, 1935, Old Santa Ana was named a California Historic Landmark (No.204).
The Artists Village is a neighborhood that includes art galleries, studios, creative offices, design workshops, and a few restaurants. It is located in the heart of Historic Downtown Santa Ana on Second Street and Broadway. The village stretches from First to Fourth Street, Bush to Birch, and surrounds the Second Street Mall between Broadway and Sycamore Street.
The village, which was first suggested in the mid-1980s, was intended to resuscitate one of Orange County’s oldest cities and bring back a portion of a once-thriving downtown with dozens of historical buildings, most of which had been vacant for years.
In 1994, the Grand Central Art Center was established in partnership with the Santa Ana City Council, community organizer Don Cribb, and Gallery Director Mike McGee of Cal State Fullerton. The Artists Village would be a designated ten-square-block. The following success of the Artists Village has aided in the emergence of a cultural and economic regeneration.
Several live-work loft developments, including Main Street Studio Lofts, East Village, and Artists Village lofts, arrived in downtown in the early 2000s. These artist-centric complexes allowed homeowners to enjoy downtown life while also contributing to the success of the thriving art movement. The Artists Village now has a variety of eateries, boutiques, artist galleries, and art organizations such as the Cal State Fullerton Grand Central Art Center and the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art.
Next Point of Interest: South Coast Plaza