Everybody knows the intersection of Harbor and Adams in Costa Mesa, right?
There were lots of boom (and bust) towns during the local boom era (1863-1888), all over the county.
The period between 1873-1896 is known as the “Long Depression” (companies born during downturns)—it was called the “Great Depression” at the time—and it comprised the Panic of 1873 and the Panic of 1893.
I’m having a Panic right now just thinking about it.
OC (which broke away from LA County when Fairview was founded) had been ranching land, but a series of natural disasters—especially a drought—changed all that, starting in the 1860s.
Fairview was, more specifically, a railroad boom town:
A group of businessmen known as the Fairview Development Co. purchased 3,000 acres of land between Santa Ana and Newport Bay in November 1887, with the intention of laying out a 100-foot-wide road and motor railway line that would end at the Pacific Ocean.According to one LA reporter at the time,
“Surveyors are now laying out the town of Fairview, through the center of which will run the 100-foot avenue and motor road,” the Los Angeles Times reported Nov. 2, 1887.
“The site for this new town is one of the most beautiful in California, being situated on a gently sloping mesa, giving a delightful view of the entire valley.”
“Here on this level mesa, 80 acres have been laid out in a town site, with adjacent acreage in 5, 10 and 10-acre lots around it,” the correspondent wrote. “Carpenters were busy erecting the pioneer building of the town, the [Fairview Development Co.’s] office. It was designed to place the town lots on the market on the 14th instant, but so great was the local demand that all the business lots have been sold, and a large portion of the residence lots and acreage.”Two railroads were in a fare war, and so travel was cheap. Fairview did quite well, according to reports:
“The town was laid out about the time the boom subsided, and has been steadily pushing forward, notwithstanding the general depression experienced through the country,” The Times reported in the January 1892 article. “It has a good hotel, which cost $12,000, a number of fine store buildings and numerous neat cottages and handsome residences which would do credit to a town of much larger size.”It soon went into decline, and, by 1907, it was a ghost town. But a nearby town—Harper—located at 17th and Newport did better.
It changed its name to “Costa Mesa” in 1920.