Taking its name from its “coastal tableland” geography, Costa Mesa is a comfortable suburban city just a mile from the Pacific Ocean in Orange County, California. Located between San Diego and Los Angeles and home to a population of about 109,960 (2010), Costa Mesa is known for its mild Mediterranean climate, dynamic arts institutions and destination shopping.
The coastal plateau and the banks of the Santa Ana River housed settlements of the Gabrieleño/Tongva and Juaneño/Luiseño people for hundreds of years. After the Mission San Juan Capistrano was established, about 20 miles down the coast, the padres visited the native communities and the area was used for cattle grazing. In 1810, the rancho was part of the Spanish land grant to Jose Antonio Yorba and later in the 19th century the land was divided. It continued as an agricultural region, with small towns cropping up to serve the slowly growing population.
One of them, Harper—often confused with nearby Harperville—held a contest to select a new name. School teacher Alice Plumer won the $25 prize and Harper changed its name to Costa Mesa in 1920, sticking with that name when the city was incorporated in 1953. As the entire west coast population expanded, Costa Mesa grew as well, drawing large numbers of military personnel during World War II and becoming home for their families during the post-war period.
Today Costa Mesa is an attractive suburban community, home to the Pacific Symphony, the South Coast Repertory Theater and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The OC Fair & Event Center is also in Costa Mesa and is the site of the annual Orange County Fair, one of the largest in the United States, attracting more than a million visitors each year.
South Coast Plaza is a global shopping destination well known for its luxury boutiques, with a concentration of elegant stores rivaling Beverly Hills and Fifth Avenue in New York. The city has also provided an attractive setting for major corporate headquarters, with schools, parks, libraries and other facilities to serve employees and their families.
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