Old Towne, Orange Historic District, commonly known as Downtown Orange, is a one-square-mile district in Orange, California, that preserves many of the original structures established following the city’s founding. It is a thriving commercial sector that has Orange County’s oldest bank and the county’s oldest soda fountain. The Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997 and is California’s largest National Register District. The Old Towne Preservation Association is a non-profit organization devoted to the district’s preservation.
According to State Historic Resource Surveys, Orange has the second highest concentration of historic buildings in the region and the state. A list of all the buildings and locations in Orange County that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places can be found at Orange County National Register of Historic Places listings.
While many of the more than 1,300 antique buildings in The City of Orange Old Towne Historic District are noteworthy, it is the District as a whole that has received significant accolades and classifications. Among them are:
- It is California’s largest National Register District.
- It has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
- The Plaza Historic District was named a “Great Place in America” by the American Planning Association (APA), joining New York’s Central Park, Los Angeles’ Olvera Street, and Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.
The astonishing density of antique structures in one square mile of Old Towne Orange includes businesses, homes, churches, schools, Chapman University, a train depot, the Hilbert Museum, packing houses, lofts, and parks. Homes and structures are well-maintained and retain their architectural integrity as a whole. More than 50 architectural styles are represented in the neighborhood, including Victorian, Craftsman, American Bungalow, Hip Roof Cottage, Provincial Revival, Mediterranean, Prairie, Spanish Colonial Revival, and Classical Revival.
Old Towne Orange is a vibrant, bustling historic neighborhood. It is still the epicenter for people and the community after more than 140 years; it is not a living-history museum and district with costumed re-enactors. Businesses, shops, and restaurants reflect the region’s shifting cultures and tastes. Traditions, such as the annual Street Fair, have been carried on since the early 1900s.
International Street Fair in Orange
The Orange International Street Fair, which has been hosted every Labor Day weekend since 1973, is held in the district. The first event was held to commemorate the city’s centenary and to pay homage to the original Orange Street Fair of 1910. Because of the Fair’s success, the city has held the event every year thereafter.  The Plaza, West and East Chapman Avenue, and North and South Glassell Street are all covered by the event, which includes international cuisine and drink, live music and entertainment, and showcases for local businesses and non-profit groups. Several hundred thousand people usually attend the event over the course of the weekend.
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