Today, as we
battle traffic on Seventeenth, Newport and other
thoroughfares around Tustin it is hard to
remember when driving in the area could be
described as leisurely.
Street was once a two-lane road edged with dirt
shoulders and towering eucalyptus trees.
Starting at Newport Avenue, it continued to Long
Beach, becoming Westminster Boulevard near
Garden Grove. Traveling east from Santa Ana’s
Main Street to Tustin, drivers had to brake only
for stop signs at Grand and Tustin Avenues and
an occasional stray dog.
Newport also was
a sleepy country road. A friend who lived near
the intersection with Seventeenth recalls
roller-skating there as a child. Many other main
roads in the Tustin areas were equally tranquil.
Prospect, also a narrow two-lane road shaded by
giant blue gum trees, passed between beautiful
orchards interspersed with Victorian ranch
houses. A giant hedge of Cecil Brunner roses
bordered the east side of the street near
present day Columbus Tustin Park.
Tustin Avenue was just as peaceful. Orange
orchards filled the four corners at Seventeenth
and continued south to First Street. Fruit and
Fourth, which stopped at Tustin Avenue in those
days, were the only breaks in the dense growth
of trees although several Victorian houses were
hidden deep in the orchards. A half dozen large
Spanish style homes lined the west side just
north of First Street.
101, a favorite route from Los Angeles to San
Diego, went through the heart of Tustin. Using
it, travelers followed Main Street in Santa Ana
to First Street, and drove east until they
entered downtown Tustin via a curve at D Street
(El Camino Real). This street became Laguna Road
shortly after Sixth Street, crossed Newport and
continued south past Tustin High School.
The 5 and 55
freeways brought dramatic changes. When
completed, the 5 Freeway skirted Tustin, cutting
diagonally from 17th in Santa Ana to meet and
replace Laguna Road below Red Hill. Streets like
Pacific, Myrtle, B and Pasadena were literally
cut in half and orange groves were ripped out.
An off-ramp at Red Hill was the closest link
with downtown Tustin although a Newport Avenue
exit was added later.
Cars sped right
past Tustin until the Tustin Market Place and
Auto Center were developed and a ramp was added
at Tustin Ranch Road. Although the Santa Ana
Freeway unsettled many Tustin residents, its
impact was rivaled by the changes that came with
the construction of the 55 Freeway. Tustin
Avenue and Newport Avenue, which joined near
McFadden to become a main route from Tustin to
Newport and Balboa, were the hardest hit. Tustin
Avenue was amputated at First Street and Newport
Avenue was abruptly ended shortly past Sycamore.
We have learned
to hop on and off the freeways to reach
developments such as the Tustin Market Place and
the District, but Old Town Tustin still feels
the impact of the changes.
Motorists needing gasoline stations and
restaurants no longer pass through town and
local residents are freewayclose to markets and
stores in outlying areas.