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A View of the Past, Present and Future From Downtown Santa Ana

Written by Cindy Marie Jenkins on Thursday, September 21st, 2017 at 5:55pm.

When Nook Sales Experts match a buyer with their dream home, the only thing as important as architectural style is the neighborhood. That’s why we’re bringing you the #NookNeighborhoods series, where every Wednesday you’ll find cool history and culture so you don’t overlook an area that could have the best nook for you.

We are very fortunate to have excellent Orange County Experts on our Nook team, who all belief in the beauty and unique qualities of their favorite areas. One fun and often misunderstood neighborhood is Downtown Santa Ana. You may know about the many community events  -- whether family friendly, dog-friendly, or a cultural night out -- and you may be aware of the historical significance of housing California’s oldest courthouse. But do you know how cool it would be to live within walking distance of such a lively spot, constantly infused with the new talent their city improvement leaders attract?

Downtown Santa Ana was put on the map in 1901, when it was chosen as the capital of Orange County. Local historian Jim Sleeper even likens it to the New York City of its day, saying that, “Fourth and Main was like Broadway and 42nd Street for Orange County. Some buildings have been modified with new facades, but underneath there's history.” That rich history of the county ‘s capital began with attracting new buildings and commerce to the area, centered around the Old Orange County Courthouse. Most people from outside Santa Ana first visit its downtown for jury duty or on official business, so it’s easy to miss the abundance of architecture surrounding them. The historical styles to be found include elements of Spanish Baroque, Gothic Revival inside the Masonic Temple, and gorgeous Art Deco facades.

You can find the existing and burgeoning culture ripe in each distinct area of downtown. In a relatively short time, The Artists Village has become exactly what it sounds like: galleries, live/work spaces, popular restaurants, studios and is home to the Cal State Fullerton Grand Central Art Center and the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art. Their staple Downtown Art Walk alone attracts 3500+ visitors every month.

Historic 4th Street, also known as Calle Cuatro Marketplace, is the masterpiece of Santa Ana’s Historic Downtown Corridor. On its West End you have boutiques and specialty shops, high end restaurants and locally owned cafes, retail stores and banking. The East End is where the architecture and art of Santa Ana thrive, within its Yost Theater and The Frida Cinema. These highly desirable streets mean you never need to venture too far from your home, or even enter a shopping mall complex again. If you love Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles, you will adore having the 4th Street Market in your backyard.

True to the neighborhood’s interesting evolution, The West End was also originally known for The Civic Center and Courthouse District. Today, along with the Ronald Reagan Federal Building, The West End is also home to some of the most LGBT-friendly locales in Orange County, plus the annual celebrated Orange County Pride Festival.

The City of Santa Ana isn’t resting on its downtown laurels, either; they plan to continue attracting the “Creative Class” of entrepreneurs, tech industry influencers and others who seek a true downtown live/work lifestyle. This includes a Street Car to Downtown, which is slated to open in 2019; making a mixed use housing space out of the 3rd/Broadway parking lot; and converting more buildings for the modern housing and workspace needs.

You can find a great variety of quality homes in Santa Ana. Use our new improved app and Search With Style® to find yours!

Photo credit: Downtown Santa Ana Artwalk 



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