By 1965, the Irvine Master Plan was taking shape. Young families flocked to Irvine’s first village, University Park, with its greenbelts and bikeways. A few miles away, UC Irvine welcomed its inaugural class of freshmen.
Excitement was building in the young community. As it did, at least four neighboring cities wanted to incorporate parts of The Irvine Ranch, which would have made it impossible to fulfill the vision of the Master Plan. After Santa Ana’s attempt to annex the entire central portion of the Ranch, local residents saw the need for self-determination.
They launched a historic drive for cityhood to preserve the Master Plan’s vision. And on Dec. 21, 1971, residents voted overwhelmingly to incorporate as Orange County’s 26th city.
“It isn’t every day a reporter gets a chance to observe the birth of a new city,” George Leidal wrote in the Daily Pilot. “Somehow the past few weeks have led me to feel like I’ve just been assigned to cover, via time capsule, the sailing of the Mayflower.”
Village by village, the new city took shape, with each village defined by its own natural features and connected to schools, parks, trails and shops.
It was these qualities that distinguished Irvine from dozens of subdivisions scattered throughout Southern California.
Irvine’s newest village — Woodbridge — embodied this distinction perfectly.
When its first 221 homes were released for sale by auction, more than 10,000 people showed up to bid — making national news.
The new City of Irvine had begun its ascent as one of the best cities in America.