Tustin, CA was at one time popularly known as “The City of the Trees” for its expansive groves of trees that once grew in the area. As we have lost the vast majority of those trees that have given way to development, Tustin itself has nearly been lost in the more advanced development of surrounding cities.
Located in Orange County, Tustin is located right next to Santa Ana, the county seat and the 57th most populous city in the United States with a population over 4 times the size of Tustin. Just a few miles away lies Irvine and Anaheim; the former a city of nearly 3 times the population of Tustin, and a center of rapid economic growth due to it being a hub of business activity in the tech and semiconductor industries; the latter being the most populous city in Orange County and a worldwide tourist destination . With these kinds of locales nearby, Tustin can quite often be overlooked. Despite sometimes going unnoticed, Tustin has been able to lay claim to many noteworthy distinctions and its unique position of being situated between so many large notable cities has allowed it to experience its own prosperous growth while at the same time allowing it to retain its quirky small town feel as well.
In 2009 Tustin was recognized by Forbes as one of their ”America’s Top 25 Towns To Live Well.” They based their rankings on wide ranging factors that would affect desirability, such as the quality of residents that flock to Tustin by looking at median income and percentage of young, educated professionals, as well as taking into account the local culture of restaurants, bars, museums, and other destinations and things-to-do that affect a town’s quality of life and the low average commute that allows residents more time to enjoy them. In a Forbes twist, they also rated their top 25 based on the attractiveness of the business environment, looking at per capital snapshots of venture capital funding, volume of small businesses, sole proprietorships and start-ups, of which Tustin’s scores were very strong.
This, of course, completely makes sense for those that are familiar with what life is like in Orange County. This area of southern California that is approximately 30 miles south of Los Angeles is a place that has experienced profound growth in the last half century that has seen the small idyllic townships surrounded by acres of farmland groves of citrus crop for as far as the eye could see transformed into bustling urbanized cities and residential neighborhoods. With this type of growth come many jobs, businesses, and opportunities for many different types of careers.
Being able to work at a great job or have a successful business within 30 minutes of your home is a wonderful thing. It allows you to have more time to spend on more enriching aspects of life, such as family and kids, or devotion to a passion or an enjoyable hobby. All this is a major stress relief that can have a major positive impact on hectic modern lives we lead. Living in a place that has a small town feel along with it being within 30 minutes from your workplace can only enhance this effect and make it far more effective. Tustin maintains a historic area fondly known as “Old Town Tustin” where some of the oldest buildings and homes in Orange County are preserved and protected. This real-life Main Street USA is a time capsule to a bygone era (as far back as the 1880s) and is the heart of the culture of Tustin.
Old Town Tustin defines the city fundamentally. It characterizes the essential feel of the locale there at its center and dictates a tone that radiates out to the rest of city that, all the way to its outskirts, starts to blend seamlessly into the rest of Orange County. It is a fantastic place to live with the old-timey feel at its center and the modern trappings that surround it. In addition to this very satisfying juxtaposition of sentiment for the township itself, Tustin the city proper has a great many highlights despite being relatively overlooked within the scope of the Southland.
In addition to its fair share of huge major lifestyle centers for shopping, such as The District , there are many interesting destinations in Tustin, which are historical, intriguing or just plain quirky (often times being all three simultaneously). For instance, Tustin is home to what is thought to be the largest wooden structures ever built, which are also said to be the largest area of covered unobstructed space in the world. These are the huge blimp hangars that are located on the decommissioned former El Toro Marine Corp Air Station , which is right next to The District. Though these structures remain, the land itself, valuable as it is, is being repurposed and developed and plans are in place for a large future park known as the Orange County Great Park and is currently used as a film location, such as for the United States version of the automotive program Top Gear. Speaking of automobiles, Old Town is also host to an automotive museum, the Marconi Automotive Museum.
Tustin is also home to a familiar sight on late night television. “Diamonds!”, as the recognizable announcer of the well known Jewelry Exchange commercials proclaims can be had in Tustin where the Jewelry Exchange flagship store/ corporate headquarters resides. The combination of television and diamonds is a good segue into stars… and Tustin has them!
Well, one at least. Cuba Gooding Jr. is from Tustin and attended Tustin High School for a little while.
While that may be Tustin’s only major worldwide celebrity, Tustin does lead the league in Major League Baseball players having had several including homerun slugger and former Dodger, Shawn Green, retired All Star Mark Grace, and the Anaheim Angels own, the Wonderdog, Rex Hudler, among others.
On one street at the city limits there is a nice wooden sign that when heading into Tustin it reads “Welcome to Tustin”, and with its wonderful small town atmosphere you definitely will feel welcome. On the other side, as you pass it to leave town to enter the rest of Orange County, it reads “Work where you must, but live and shop in Tustin”. It is our city’s motto, and I could not agree more.