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Fullerton: An Industrial College Town


Fullerton is a North O.C. city with roots as a wild west gold rush and railway town. Over the course of the 20th century, the city experienced explosive development, driven by oil, manufacturing, education and population growth. Today, Fullerton is a diverse industrial center and home to several educational institutions, including California State University Fullerton, Hope International University and Western State University of Law.

A Brief History:

The city of Fullerton was founded in 1887 by land developers George and Edward Amergie, and the namesake of George Fullerton, the railway agent with whom the Amergies struck a deal. In its early days of the railway development, the town consisted of construction camps and saloons. This “wild west” character gave way to a family town, with an agriculture and oil economy.

During the mid-20th century, Fullerton experienced an explosion of economic growth and development, which included an oil boom, the establishment of several educational institutions, the construction of an airport, the emergence of a manufacturing industry and the return of WWII veterans in need of housing for their families.

More recent years have seen an effort at revitalization in downtown Fullerton, the historic city center, with commercial and entertainment hot spot. Today Fullerton could be considered an industrial college town with education and manufacturing driving the city's economy.

Lay of the Land:

Fullerton is a northern Orange County city that covers approximately 25 square miles. It is located just north of the tourist destination city of Anaheim. To the north are La Habra and Brea. To the west is Buena Park and to the east is the city of Placentia.

Housing & Real Estate:

There is a variety of residential housing in Fullerton, including single family homes, townhomes, condos and apartments. Interestingly, despite being a college town, Fullerton is not exactly the most affordable when it comes to rental housing. However, CSUF is considered a commuter campus, with most students living off-campus and commuting from surrounding areas.
Much like other cities throughout Orange County and Southern California, Fullerton was affected by the boom and bust of the real estate market. At the peak of the bubble, housing prices averaged close to $600,000. However, the market has been in decline since 2007, with many homes selling for up to $100,000 less than the average $450,000 list price. Median rent: $1,339
Median home sales price: $350,000

Schools & Colleges:

Fullerton School District provides K-8 educational services for the city. While the city has been hard hit by the cuts in education spending throughout California, Fullerton's district performance remains well above the state average, including a handful of California Distinguished and Blue Ribbon Award winning schools. The Fullerton Joint Union High School District provides secondary -- or high school -- education services in Fullerton as well as several surrounding cities.

The city has also become the home of several institutions of higher learning, including Fullerton College, Hope International University, Western State University of Law and California State University at Fullerton. CSUF continues to expand and even has a second campus located in the city of Irvine.

Shopping & Dining:

Over the last decade, the historic city center at Commonwealth and Harbor, also known as downtown Fullerton, has in become the city’s hub shopping and entertainment. This area is bursting with boutique shopping, bars and restaurants, performing arts theatres and a burgeoning artist community.

Getting Around Town:

Like most Orange County cities, Fullerton is a city steeped in car culture. While in the past Fullerton has been considered hostile to commuter cycling, the city has made a commitment to bicycle education in an effort to increase the safety and feasibility of bicycling as a viable mode of transportation.

The Orange County Transit Authority also services the Fulleton, particularly in the areas surrounding CSUF. Routes include: 26, 37, 43, 47, 143 and 213. See the OCTA website for details on schedules and fares.

Fullerton By the Numbers:

Population: 135,161
Median Age: 36
Median Income: $50, 269

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