It was in the spring of 1882 that Mr. E.J. Waite, a native of Wisconsin, planted the first orange grove in Redlands proper on two and a half acres on Center Street.
The City of Redlands was, for almost three-quarters of a century, at the heart of the largest navel orange producing region in the world, attracting people from all over the world from the late 1800’s to the late 1950’s.
In 1890, one thousand railroad cars of navels were marketed. By 1904, over one million boxes were sent out in over 9,000 railroad cars from over 30 packing houses.
Socially, the navel orange became a symbol of what tourists and the rest of the country thought about Southern California.
Today only one packing house remains to serve the needs of approximately the 2,500 acres of citrus that remains in production in the area.
City Becomes Involved in Citrus Industry
Through money donated by its citizens and federal grants, the City acquired the Prospect Park Grove in 1968.
Additional groves were acquired in the 1970’s with park acquisition and development taxes.
In 1979, a City ordinance called for the “historical preservation of citrus” to be supported by crop receipts and park tax funds.
In 1986, the voters passed Measure “O” by an overwhelming majority to provide taxpayer funds for the strategic purchase of various lands to be maintained in perpetuity as open space – including citrus groves.
In 1996, the Citrus Preservation Commission was established to make recommendations and advise the City Council regarding the acquisition, improvement, preservation and retention of citrus properties within the City. The Citrus Preservation Commission consists of seven volunteer members who generously offer their combined 250-plus years of citrus industry expertise to help ensure the continuing presence of our citrus history.
See the Related for more information about citrus heritage in Redlands.