September 25, 2020 - Redlands

Region 19

History of Redlands: Redlands is a beautiful small "big" town that sits at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains halfway between Palm Springs and Los Angeles.  Once the largest naval orange producing city in the world, Redlands became home to many elite families building their dream homes in whatever style they liked, many of which are still preserved to this day.  As the citrus industry boomed, Redlands opened three fruit packing centers and consisted of more than 1,500 acres of of citrus groves.  Near the close of the 20th century, Redlands became highly residential and although the fruit packing centers have all been closed, Redlands continues to celebrate its rich history in the citrus industry.  

1908 Redlands CA

1908 Redlands CA (note the abundance of Orange trees ) 

In the 1880s, the arrival of the Southern Pacific and Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroads, connecting Southern California to San Francisco and Salt Lake triggered a land boom, with speculators such as John W. North flooding the area now known as the Inland Empire. North and others saw the area, with its hot, dry climate and ready access to water as an ideal center for citrus production. The name of Redlands came from the color of the adobe soil.


Year Incorporated: Redlands was founded in 1881 and incorporated in 1888.


Population: 71,586 as of a 2018 US Census Bureau estimate.


Historical Landmarks: Redlands is home to the A.K. Smiley Public Library built in 1898, the University of Redlands built in 1907, and the Redlands Bowl built in 1930.  There are also some beautiful neighborhoods to stroll through that include Kimberly Crest Home and Gardens, a 7,000 square foot French chateau style home built in 1897 for one of the "pioneers of Redlands" at the cost of $10,000 and the Morey Mansion, dubbed "America's Favorite Victorian House" built in 1882 for David Morey to retire from carpentry and shipbuilding.

The Oldest Known Building: The oldest known building in Redlands is the Barton School House built in 1877.  It was originally a one-room, wood frame school house built to serve children on the west side of Redlands.  The building began to deteriorate in the 1960s and the land it sat on was purchased for development, however, the building was preserved and moved to a new location on Orange Avenue next the The Grove School.  It is now used by The Grove School students during the day and is available for use by the community in the evening. 

The Barton School House

Famous People That Have Lived or Visited Here: Redlands has been visited by three different US Presidents: William McKinley in 1901, Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, and William Howard Taft in 1909.  Redlands is also home to the Lincoln Memorial Shrine - a museum and archived collection dedicated to the study Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War.


If I only had one day to spend in this town, what should I make sure to see or do? A trip the the A.K Smiley Public Library and the Lincoln Memorial Shrine, a stroll through Smiley Park neighborhood for a view of some of the most historic homes in California, a visit to State Street in Downtown Redlands for some of the best dining and local small business shopping, a visit to Kimberly Crest Home and Gardens, a trip to the historic Santa Fe Station, which originally operated an excursion train through the Redlands orange groves, across the Santa Ana River and back into San Bernardino, and of course a drive through the beautiful University of Redlands.


Is there a best time/season to visit Redlands?

Although it can be hot, the summer months are a wonderful time to visit Redlands.  Summertime is the host to many outdoor, family friendly events such as the free Summer Music Festival at the Redlands Bowl (founded in 1924) and the Redlands Summer Theatre Festival at the Avice Meeker Sewall Theatre in Prospect Park.  


Thanks to Wikipedia for some content related to this article.


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Comments from fellow history lovers welcome below!


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commented 2020-09-26 12:22:00 -0700 · Flag
I have always loved California Navel Oranges. Now I know about Redlands. The Orange history in California includes crate art and refrigerated box cars.