Villa Park is an affluent city in northern Orange County, California, near and surrounded by the city of Orange, and close to Anaheim Hills, that incorporated in 1962. As of the 2010 Census, the city had a population of 5,812, down from 5,999 at the 2000 census, achieving the status of the smallest city in Orange County by population (La Palma is Orange County's smallest city in area). Villa Park includes about 2,000 homes and the land is nearly 99% built out. The city is largely zoned for single-family residences and are located on larger lots that average about or 1/2 acre in size. Within the city limits there is one small shopping center that includes a Ralph's "Fresh Fare" grocery store, three banks, a pharmacy with a postal substation, and a variety of stores and offices. City Hall, including a community room, and a branch of the Orange County Public Library are located adjacent to the city's only shopping center. Also nearby are some professional offices, and three restaurants, including Rockwell's Cafe & Bakery.
There are a total of four public schools with the city, including Serrano and Villa Park Elementary Schools, Cerro Villa Middle School, and Villa Park High School. All four schools are operated by the Orange Unified School District, which also happens to be the largest employer within the city.
Perhaps ironically, there are no public parks within the entire city limits. Many homes have pools or tennis courts, or both. Unlike the urban areas of Orange County which are situated west of the city, Villa Park has winding streets and it is known for having a rural feel with few sidewalks and limited street lights. Throughout the city are many trees and flowers located in planted medians and parkways that contribute to a rural, green-belt like ambiance. Surrounded by the city of Orange, Villa Park appears as an enclave or "perforation" within the city of Orange. This is due largely to the fact that Villa Park's early unwillingness to annex land beyond Santiago Creek, to annex the lands east of a Southern California Edison Power Line Easement that sat between the city of Villa Park and Anaheim Hills, eventually being annexed by the city of Orange.
Members of the Tongva and Juaneño/Luiseño nations long inhabited this area. After the 1769 expedition of Gaspar de Portolà, a Spanish expedition led by Father Junipero Serra named the area Vallejo de Santa Ana (Valley of Saint Anne). On November 1, 1776, Mission San Juan Capistrano became the areas first permanent European settlement in Alta California, New Spain. In 1810, the Spanish Empire granted to Jose Antonio Yorba, which he named Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana. Yorba's great rancho included the lands where the cities of Olive, Orange, Villa Park, Santa Ana, Tustin, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach stand today.
After the Mexican-American war in 1848, Alta California became part of the United States in 1850 and American settlers arrived in this area.
Villa Park was known as "Mountain View" in the 1860s. The U.S. Post Office refused to allow the local post office to be called "Mountain View" because there was already a post office with that name in Northern California (Mountain View), so the new local post office and the area came to be called Villa Park.
Originally Villa Park was an agricultural area producing, in turn, grapes, walnuts, and apricots. Finally, citrus became the major crop for about 60 years. Citrus ranchers and their families molded Villa Park into a vital community and organized its incorporation to save it from what they felt were the unwelcome zoning practices from the eastward-moving city of Orange.
These ranchers established the Serrano Water District, which still provides Villa Park's water. (The district office is located on Lincoln Street.) They also founded the Villa Park Orchard's Association, still a thriving business in Orange, although the packing house that was the dominant Villa Park landmark for many years, located west of the shopping center, was torn down in 1983. The citrus groves yielded to the developers, but the pioneers left an enduring legacy in zoning for housing with lots of , that has been instrumental in shaping the city's character.