So you want to have your cake and eat it too? You need peace, quiet, and the feeling of a small town…but you’d like to never be too far from the action. Tustin is a city of paradoxes. It was founded as an agricultural community in the mid-to-late 1800s — making it one of Orange County’s oldest communities. To this day, the city celebrates its agricultural heritage with the annual Tustin Tiller Days celebration. And there is still a working blacksmith shop in Old Town Tustin! (no joke, and Huell Howser even visited) But don’t let that fool you, there are new developments as well and recent years have seen more restaurants, and now a craft brewery, heading into Old Town. The location is perfect, with easy access to a host of freeways and this magical quality of being within 25 minutes of just about anywhere.
The paradoxes continue with housing. Old town housing stock features some of the oldest homes within Orange County, a few of which date back to the 19th century. There are the usual Craftsman Bungalows, but also a good supply of Spanish Revival, Victorian, and even Italianate. Being a good bit smaller than Orange means more houses are named and the stories for each home are more prolific. The flip side is the hills of North Tustin, which were developed during the boom of the 50s and 60s. Big lots with wide-open floorplans and zoning to allow to for animals means this section has a decidedly more rural feel (most streets don’t have sidewalks and are devoid of street lights — and the residents want to keep it that way!) One newspaper ad from the time period refers to the area as the “Bel Air of Orange County.” Many of the homes are big one story affairs and more than a few represent great examples of mid-century modernism.
Tustin is great for someone who wants to be near the action but not necessarily in the action. Unlike most of the communities in Orange County, Tustin has managed to retain the small-town charm.