The Stories Behind some of Irvine's Place Names.
Irvine was designed to be the quintessential, master-planned city, with careful attention paid to every little detail. So it's not surprising that even its major streets and parks were given their names for a reason.
Before there was a city of Irvine, there was Culver Road, which ran past Fred Culver's home. Culver was one of the most successful tenant farmers on the Irvine Ranch in 1902. His home, called "Culver's Corner" was located where the present day 5 Freeway intersects with Culver Dr. Fred and his wife Mabel's home was a local landmark. A newspaper article in 1910 called it an elegant house "filled with all the modern conveniences," including "acetylene gas lighting and a furnace that heats the home throughout."
George Jeffrey (left) at Ortega Highway
Jeffrey Road....Jeffrey Open Space Trail....Jeffrey Trail Middle School...The name goes back over a century ago, to Irvine’s agricultural heritage. In 1897, a scottish immigrant named George Jeffrey leased one of the earliest lima bean farms on the Irvine Ranch. Later, he went on to plant citrus and site of the original Jeffrey orange groves is now a housing development on Irvine Center Drive, appropriately named “Orangetree.” Jeffery Road got its name because, like Culver Drive, it was typical to name the roads after the farmer who’s land was nearby.
It’s only fitting that George Jeffrey should have a major local road named for him. The universally-liked farmer went on to represent the 5th district on the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 1922, and oversaw the paving of the roads.
Mason Regional Park
Irvine Company President William Mason (seated center) at Irvine Incoporation in 1971
Mason Regional Park is named for William Mason, President of the Irvine Company from 1966 - 1973. Mason was one of the group of young executives hired by the Irvine Co. in the early 1960's to help with the transition from agricultural operation to master-planned community. Along with Ray Watson, who focused on urban planning, Bill Mason handled the engineering and infrastructure challenges of the young city.
The park, originally named University Park reflecting nearby U.C. Irvine, was renamed after William R. Mason, who served as President of the Irvine Company until his untimely death in 1973. The Board of Supervisors changed the name of the park from University Regional Park to William R. Mason Regional Park in recognition of the impact his direction had and will continue to have on Orange County, not the least of which was the donation by the Irvine Company of land for this park. The first phase of the park, forty-five acres, opened to public use in 1973. A 50-acre second phase was completed in 1978. The second phase of development included a 9.2 acre lake which has proven to be a very popular attraction for park visitors.
The Village of Walnut
The name of Walnut is prominent in the north part of Irvine. The village and the road were both named to honor the agricultural heritage of the Irvine Ranch and one of its important crops. The Irvine Ranch was famous for oranges and lima beans, but for 74 years, walnuts were a also major export. From 1893 - 1931, Orange County led the nation in the production of English Walnuts, providing one-third of the world’s supply. The Costa Mesa/ Tustin area was known as “The Walnut Capitol of the World.”
1935 was one of Irvine’s peak years for production. 7,775 tons of walnuts were produced with an income of nearly $1,700,000. Gradually, as the trees aged and the groves were not as productive, the growers decided it was no longer profitable to maintain them. The Irvine walnut industry came to an end in 1967, when the last 300 acres of trees were removed and replaced with citrus.
Boy Scout Jamboree 1953
Jamboree Road was named to commemorate the Boy Scout Jamboree, held on the Irvine Ranch in the summer of 1953. The Irvine Company cleared the land and leveled the hills in preparation for the week-long event which hosted 50,000 boy scouts from across the country. An eight-mile road. later named Jamboree, was graded to access the camp.
The Jamboree site was just north of Pacific Coast Highway between the new Jamboree Road and MacArthur Boulevard in Newport Beach. The tent city, called “Jamboree Town,” covered present day Newport Center and the East Bluff neighborhood.
All in all, the National Boy Scout Jamboree was an overwhelming success. The Irvine Company had created a city the size of Miami Beach on undeveloped ranch land. A new road had been graded with access all the way to the ocean, and the infrastructure for new development had been established. Most importantly, 51,000 boys were sent home, happy and healthy, with memories to last a lifetime.