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40 Unique Names for 40 Unique Years


Irvine: While it is generally known that the City of Irvine is named after pioneering rancher James Irvine, many names throughout the City also reflect other historical milestones and people.

Here are some of our favorites that reflect 40 years of incorporation, as well as before incorporation.

Aldrich Park: UC Irvine’s famous circular park, which serves as the physical and symbolic heart of the campus, is named after the late Daniel G. Aldrich, the university’s founding chancellor.
Anteaters, UC Irvine: Unusual nickname for the campus; the name was picked by students who proposed it. At first, it was not well received throughout the administration. It was inspired by the anteater in Johnny Hart’s comic strip, “B.C.”
Beckman High School: The 7-year-old Irvine high school is named after Arnold O. Beckman, the National Medal of Science honoree who was founder of Beckman Instruments and a worldwide-known scientist and inventor. He was a well-known philanthropist throughout Orange County, particularly in the field of education.
Bison Avenue: Near UC Irvine, this was originally an access road to Buffalo Ranch, a popular tourist attraction that began with a herd of buffalo and was operated by Gene Clark, the great-grandson of famous Apache Indian chief Geronimo.
Bommer Canyon: Originally the home to Juaneño Band of Mission Indians and Gabriello Indians, the protected open space is believed to be named after a Franciscan brother from Mission San Juan Capistrano who worked with area Indians in the early 1800s.
Colonel Bill Barber Marine Corps Memorial Park: The 40-acre park next to the Civic Center is named for the Korean War hero and Medal of Honor recipient who was a longtime Irvine resident.
Concordia University: Was founded in 1973 as Christ College and changed its name in 1993 when it became the 10th campus in the national Concordia University System.
Culver Drive: One of Irvine’s main thoroughfares is named after businessman Frederick “Humpy” Culver, whose home in the early 1900s was known as Culver’s Corner at what is now Culver and Trabuco. Frederick’s brother, “Gimpy,” was reputed to be Irvine’s first full-time blacksmith. Gimpy’s name is attributed to his wooden leg, the result of a shoot-out with the Tomato Springs Bandit in 1912.
Deanna Manning Stadium: The City’s only softball stadium, at Bill Barber Park, is named for the former Community Services Director who worked for Irvine from 1978 to 2004.
Great Park Farm: The urban farm is the largest fruit and vegetable farming operation created in the region in at least a generation. The 114 leased acres had its first crop (of strawberries) in late 2010 at the Orange County Great Park. Produce from the Great Park Farm, as well as from other sources, is sold each Sunday at the Great Park Farmers Market.
Hangar 244: The iconic hangar, now a key multi-use component of the Orange County Great Park, was used after the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro was commissioned in March 1943.
Irvine Global Village Festival: The City of Irvine’s signature event is celebrated at Bill Barber Park. The 10th annual event, October 1 this year, will feature cultural entertainment, food and activities reflecting Irvine’s diverse population.
Irvine Valley College: When it opened in 1979, the college was known as Saddleback Valley College North Campus; this sister campus to Saddleback College was renamed in 1985.
Jamboree Road: The key thoroughfare was named in honor of the dirt road leading to the 1953 International Boy Scout Jamboree staged on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean at what is now Newport Center/Fashion Island.
Jeffrey Road: North Irvine’s main road is named for George Jeffrey, a pioneering Irvine farmer and blacksmith. Jeffrey also served on the Orange County Board of Supervisors during the 1920s and 1930s.
Jeffrey Trail Middle School: The name of the Irvine Unified School District’s next middle school, which will be built in Irvine’s Planning Area 40 near the Jeffrey and Trabuco intersection. The name references the nearby Jeffrey Open Space Trail, linking some of the conservation and open space lands within the City.
Katie Wheeler Library: The Irvine family residence was built in 1876 at the present-day corner of Irvine Boulevard and Jamboree Road, today the site of the county library. The Irvine Company later used the premises for company offices; a fire severely damaged the former ranch house in 1965, which was then demolished. A replica building was completed in 2008.
Knollwood’s Restaurant: Located in Old Town Irvine, the site was originally a blacksmith’s shop that served the many needs of the agricultural area in the early 20th century.
La Quinta Hotel: Located in Old Town Irvine, the original building was a bulk storage silo warehouse that stored lima beans and barley for distribution. The hotel opened in 1986.
Marine Corps Air Station El Toro: Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the base was commissioned in 1943 and closed in 1999. Bases were traditionally named after the nearest post office, in this case the one in the small nearby community of El Toro with a 1940 population of 130 people. The "El Toro" area was named after an old Spanish land grant and ranch. MCAS El Toro is now home to the Orange County Great Park and the contiguous Great Park Neighborhoods, the latter managed by private partner Five Point Communities.
Mauchly Road: The road, near the Irvine Station, was named in honor of John W. Mauchly, the first person to propose the first practical digital computer in 1943.
Michelson Drive: The key entrance to Park Place was named after Dr. Albert Michelson, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1907 after accurately determining the speed of light. Michelson built a mile-long tube on the Irvine Ranch in 1929 to experiment with the speed of light.
Modjeska Road: The agricultural road is located off Irvine Boulevard near the Orange County Great Park and is named for Madame Helena Modjeska, a Polish-born actress who settled in the late 19th century in what is now the community of Modjeska Canyon.
Myford Road: This is named for the son of James Irvine Sr.; Myford became the Irvine Company president in 1947 when his father died.

Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial: Located at the City’s Northwood Community Park, the nation’s first such memorial was dedicated in November 2010 and is the first permanent memorial dedicated to every fallen service member in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Old Town Irvine: Long ago the hub of agricultural operations and social interaction on the Irvine Ranch, the outpost at Sand Canyon Avenue and the I-5 Freeway now comprises a collection of renovated buildings reinvented for modern uses. Old Town Irvine was preserved due in part through the efforts of the Irvine Historical Society.
Palm Court Arts Complex: Now open at the Orange County Great Park, this area includes artist studios, galleries, and an outdoor performance and events space, distinguished by 54 Canary Island Date Palm trees.

Perez Road: The agricultural road, off Irvine Boulevard, is named for the mother, Lupe Perez, of former City of Irvine employee Victoria Jimenez. Victoria’s mother and father Felipe raised their children on the Irvine Ranch as Felipe worked in agriculture.

Portola Parkway: The roadway, popular today for bicyclists, was named after Gaspar de Portola, a Spanish explorer who traveled up the California Coast from Mexico. He became the first white man to enter Orange County in 1769.
Quail Hill: The community, located near Shady Canyon and Laguna Canyon Road, got its name from the hill at the corner of the 405 Freeway and University. Up until the 1980s, it was a favorite resting spot for quail during their migration.
Rancho San Joaquin: Land was granted to Don Jose Andres Sepulveda in 1841 by the Mexican government that ultimately became part of the Irvine Ranch; it lends its name to several areas and locations in Irvine, including a residential village, a golf course and a middle school.
Rowland Hall, UC Irvine: Named for UCI professor F. Sherwood Rowland, Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, 1995.
Ryan Lemmon Stadium: This is the main baseball field at Windrow Athletic Community Park. The stadium was named after Ryan Lemmon, an Irvine resident and star baseball player from Woodbridge High School. In 1995, following the loss of his son, his father established the Ryan Lemmon Foundation as a way to give back to the baseball community.
Turtle Rock Village: The unique name comes from a geologic outcropping of granite located in the Vista homes neighborhood.
Venta Spur Trail: In 1916, James Irvine Jr. built a citrus packinghouse that was served by a rail spur provided by the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. The city created the Venta Spur Trail long after the rail line and the Irvine Valencia Growers Packing House, on Jeffrey Road near Irvine Boulevard, ceased operations.
Village of University Park: One of the first villages in Irvine, it was designed to serve as a “district” for those connected to the then-young UC Irvine campus.
Village of Woodbridge: The iconic village in the heart of Irvine takes its name from the wood bridges that cross the two lakes that define the community.
Watson Bridge: The pedestrian bridge that links UC Irvine with the community is named in honor of Raymond L. Watson, the Irvine Company’s first architect and planner who played an instrumental role in forging enduring relationships among the City of Irvine, UCI and the Irvine Company.
William Woollett Jr. Aquatic Center: Located next to Irvine High School, it is named for the City of Irvine’s first City Manager. Bill Woollett was the Assistant Venue Manager for the 1984 Olympic swimming events in Los Angeles as well as the pentathlon-swimming event held in Irvine at what was then known as the Heritage Park Aquatics Complex.

Special acknowledgements: The City of Irvine staff would like to thank the Irvine Company for its assistance as well as the Irvine Historical Society for its assistance and fact-checking.