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City of Tustin

The city of Tustin is a diverse and dynamic community with a vast collection of business and recreation opportunities for residents and visitors. Tustin is the home of the former Marine Corps Air Station and the still-standing Tustin Hangars, two of the largest wooden structures that were built in 1942 and named one of the Historic Engineering Landmarks of the 20th century. Tustin was chosen by Forbes Magazine as one of the Top 25 Cities to Live Well in America in 2009. And with the close proximity to major transportation routes and nearby cities with large business centers, residents commuting from Tustin often have shorter than average commutes compared to other Orange County cities. The City of Tustin profile includes city history and information for residential services, shopping, dining, and points of interest throughout the city.

City of Tustin, California
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About Tustin

City Of Tustin

The City of Tustin is located in central Orange County approximately 35 miles south of Los Angeles. Bordered by Orange, Santa Ana, and Irvine, Tustin is a vibrant community with easy access to Southern California’s major attractions. Orange County’s only commercial airport is just a 10-minute drive away, and the city of Tustin is located near major freeways including Interstates 5 and 405, and State Routes 55, 133, 261, 73, and 241.

Tustin has a well-balanced combination of residential, commercial, and industrial areas with an abundance of entertainment, dining, and shopping for residents and visitors to enjoy. Often referred to as The City of Trees due to the presence of a variety of trees in the region, Tustin hillsides offer views of the ocean and the Saddleback Mountains, and nearby open space preserves provide a variety of trails for outdoor enthusiasts and exploring families to enjoy. Peters Canyon Regional Park, Limestone Canyon, and Orchard Hills are managed by Irvine Park Conservancy, and El Modena Open Space is just a short drive away in the city of Orange.

Tustin has a wonderful variety of neighborhood parks with special features like the disc golf course at Frontier Park, the nature trail and interpretive displays at Cedar Grove Park, a roller hockey rink at Heritage Park, and the water play features and covered wagon playground equipment at Pioneer Road Park. The city also pays homage to the significant military history with Victory Park, Veterans Sports Park, and other memorials and landmarks around the city. The Orange County Great Park also features historic information and displays about the community’s military past.

Tustin has several major destinations for shopping, dining, and entertainment including Enderle Center, The District, and the Tustin Market Place, plus many neighborhood shopping centers. The District offers many options for shopping and dining, the AMC movie theater, Bowlmore Lanes, and the new BubblePop – an open play destination with interactive bubble stations. The Market Place also offers a plethora of shopping and dining, plus a movie theater and the new Luv 2 Play – a family fun center with an indoor playground, café, and arcade. For even more fun, the city of Tustin hosts the Annual Tustin Tiller Days and the Tustin Street Fair and Chili Cook-off, and the annual Art Walk.

While Tustin offers many opportunities for local employment, many residents commute out of the city for work to Irvine, Santa Ana, Los Angeles, and other surrounding communities.

Tustin History

The city of Tustin was founded in the 1870s by carriage maker Columbus Tustin, who originally called the area Tustin City. The available water supply made the area ideal for agriculture and early residents tended groves of apricots and walnuts, which later turned to Valencia Oranges.

During World War Two, Tustin and surrounding cities saw the development of three military bases – El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, The Santa Ana Army Air Base, and the Navy’s Lighter Than Air Base. The Navy built two large hangars to house blimps to patrol the coast. At seventeen stories high and 1,000 feet long, the hangars are among the largest wooden structures ever built and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Later, they served as storage and maintenance for the Marine Corps Aviation Facility’s helicopter fleet. While the hangars no longer serve a military purpose, they have been used in multiple movies and television shows including X-Files, Pearl Harbor, Austin Powers, and Star Trek. The El Toro Marine Corps Air Station once housed 4,500 military and civilian personnel, but the base was officially closed in 1999.

Tustin’s population boom came primarily after the war, and in the 1960s when the population increased more than 1,000%, growing from 2,000 residents, to more than 22,000. Today, the city is home to more than 80,000 people.

Old Town Tustin houses a collection of several historic buildings that date back to the 1800s, including a church, and the shop buildings at 130 – 140 West Main Street which once housed a post office, drug store, and barbershop. The Hewes House, the Rock House, and the Stevens House are among others to explore. History-lovers can learn more about the historic buildings and the city’s past with the self-guided sidewalk tour or visit the Tustin Area Museum.

Tustin Statistics

Size: Approximately 11.08 Square Miles 
Population: 80,276 (2020)

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Heidi Deal
Heidi Deal is the author of the Newcomers Handbook to Living In Los Angeles & Orange County, and a children’s book author specializing in history and human rights. When she's not writing you can find her solo hiking and going on new adventures with her kids and pup.