Oxnard is a city in the United States, located along the coast of Southern California. It is the 19th most populous city in California and the most populous in Ventura County. The city lies approximately 30 miles west of the Los Angeles (city limits), and is part of the larger Greater Los Angeles area. The population of Oxnard is 203,585 as of the 2012 Financial Report. Oxnard is the most populous city in the Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is listed as one of the wealthiest areas in America, with its residents making well above the average national income. In 2013, Oxnard was ranked as one of the safest cities in America with violent crime rates well below the national average.
Oxnard was incorporated in 1903. It is located at the western edge of the fertile Oxnard Plain, sitting adjacent to an agricultural center of strawberries and lima beans. Oxnard is also a major transportation hub in Southern California, with Amtrak, Union Pacific, Metrolink, Greyhound, and Intercalifornia stopping in Oxnard. Oxnard also has a small regional airport called Oxnard Airport (OXR).
Before the arrival of Europeans, the area that is now Oxnard was inhabited by Chumash Native Americans. The first European to encounter the area was Portuguese explorer João Rodrigues Cabrilho, who claimed it for Spain in 1542. During the mission period, it was serviced by the Mission San Buenaventura, established in 1782.
Ranching began to take hold among Californio settlers, who lost their regional influence when California became a US state in 1850. At about the same time, the area was settled by American farmers, who cultivated barley and lima beans.
Henry T. Oxnard, founder of today's Moorhead, Minnesota-based American Crystal Sugar Company who operated a successful sugar beet factory with his three brothers (Benjamin, James, and Robert) in Chino, California, was enticed to build a $2 million factory on the plain inland from Port Hueneme. Shortly after the 1897 beet campaign, a new town emerged, now commemorated on the National Register of Historic Places as the Henry T. Oxnard Historic District. Oxnard intended to name the settlement after the Greek word for "sugar", zachari, but frustrated by bureaucracy, named it after himself. Given the growth of the town of Oxnard, in the spring of 1898, a railroad station was built to service the plant, which attracted a population of Chinese, Japanese, and Mexican laborers and enough commerce to merit the designation of a town. Ironically, the Oxnard brothers never lived in their namesake city, and they sold both the Chino and the giant red-brick Oxnard factory with its landmark twin smokestacks in 1899 for nearly $4 million. The Oxnard factory operated from August 19, 1899 until October 26, 1959. Factory operations were interrupted in the Oxnard Strike of 1903.
Oxnard was incorporated as a California city on June 30, 1903, and the public library was opened in 1907. Prior to and during World War II, the naval bases of Point Mugu and Port Hueneme were established in the area to take advantage of the only major navigable port on California's coast between the Port of Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay, and the bases in turn encouraged the development of the defense-based aerospace and communications industries.
In the mid-20th century Oxnard grew and developed the areas outside the downtown with homes, industry, retail, and a new harbor named Channel Islands Harbor. Martin V. ("Bud") Smith (1916–2001) became the most influential developer in the history of Oxnard during this time. Smith's first enterprise in 1941 was the Colonial House Restaurant (demolished 1988) and then the Wagon Wheel Junction in 1947, (demolished 2011). He was also involved in the development of the high-rise towers at the Topa Financial Plaza, the Channel Islands Harbor, Casa Sirena Resort, the Esplanade Shopping Mall, Fisherman's Wharf, the Carriage Square Shopping Center, the Maritime Museum, and many other major hotel, restaurant and retail projects.
In June 2004, the Oxnard Police Department and the Ventura County Sheriff imposed a gang injunction over a area of the central district of the city, in order to restrict gang activity. The injunction was upheld in the Ventura County Superior Court and made a permanent law in 2005. A similar injunction was imposed in September, 2006 over a area of the south side of the city.