El Modena, California

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View from a trail in the El Modena Open Space at night. Most of northwest Orange County can be seen here.

El Modena is an area around El Modena High School in the city of Orange, California. It is located near and east of the intersection of Hewes Street and Chapman Avenue. Much of the area was annexed by Orange in the 1960s and 1970s, but there is still an enclave of unincorporated county land to the east of the high school.


The town was historically a barrio [1] or colonia settled by Hispanics of Mexican heritage, as well some Californio and Spanish American settlers in the first half of the 19th century (1790-1850) before the annexation of California by the USA during the Mexican American War (1846-1848).

El Modena's agricultural days have had a rich cultural impact on the town's history. Between the time of its foundation in the 1880s to the suburban development boom in the late 1950s, El Modena was an area filled with citrus groves. It is now fully urbanized with the majority its residents being low to middle income families; the annexed areas of the city became upper income in the real estate booms of the 1990s and 2000s (decade).

Like the trailer parks of western Santa Ana facing the Santa Ana River, and Panorama Heights within Orange and facing Tustin, the El Modena neighborhood is among the poorest parts of Orange County. By the 1970s, much of the older residential areas were poorly maintained: No paved streets, no gutters or sewer caps, poorly dimmed street lighting and mobile home parks without proper utilities. As time progressed, however, El Modena's living environment has gradually improved.[2]

The Southern Pacific formerly had an El Modena Station, located off La Veta Avenue, just south of the present-day La Veta Park.

Cultural Depictions[edit]

Kim Stanley Robinson's novel Pacific Edge is set in El Modena c. 2065.[3]


  1. ^ Web Page: Old Town Is Gone, but Neighborhood Ties Remain
  2. ^ Web Page: Cause for Celebration : With Gang Truce Holding, Life in El Modena Area Is More Livable
  3. ^ Web Page: Pacific Edge: Three Californias (Three Californias Series)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°47′16″N 117°48′31″W / 33.78778°N 117.80861°W / 33.78778; -117.80861