For those who have never heard of seen a ‘master planned community’ there is no better way to experience one that to visit the primary version at Laguna Niguel. Located in southern Orange County in the San Joaquin Hills its name comes from the Spanish for ‘lagoon’, along with a now defunct Juaneno Indian village called Nigueli.
The area was part of the Rancho Niguel Mexican land Grant of Juan Avila. The land was purchased by Lewis Moulton in 1895 because of a brought killing off most of the cattle. He also bought other areas of land around the nearby locations. The land didn’t really do anything until the idea of the planned community arose in the 1950’s. In a similar way that England was creating ‘New Towns’ after the war, whereby they would plan communities in as yet unpopulated areas and create a town from nothing, the United States caught on to the opportunity and began planning communities in areas that needed rejuvenating populating and colonizing. The Laguna Niguel Corporation was started in 1959 by a Boston trio called Cabot, Cabot & Forbes who began the design and initiation.
Young and Restless
As a relatively young community the town itself is more or less self-sufficient with Costco and Walmart as the two largest employers. In the early days the town started to thrive because of the construction of the San Diego Freeway—I-5—in 1959. When it opened it brought new traffic through the area and because of its coastal location it was a prime area for new residents and new visitors. The homes in the area were very Spanish in style with Adobe appearances. Moldings in Laguna Niguel were also a common feature on the outside of the houses. The influence was such that new homes were being snapped up faster than they were being built and in 1989 Laguna Niguel was incorporated into Orange County as a City because it has grown so fast. Its warm climate is also a huge pull for new people coming to the area for vacation, passing through on their way up I-5 and relocation for work. The temperatures rarely get below sixty during winter and often touch eighty during the summer months.
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