Brea, California

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Brea is a city in Orange County, California. The population, as of January 1, 2010, was about 40,377.[1]

The city began as a center of crude oil production, was later propelled by citrus production, and is now an important retail center because of the large Brea Mall and the recently redeveloped Brea Downtown. Brea is also known for its extensive public art program which began in 1975 and continues today with over 140 artworks in the collection placed and located throughout the city. Brea's public art program has been used as a model and inspiration for many Public Art programs nationwide.

Sunset magazine named Brea one of the five best suburbs to live in the Western United States in early 2006.[2]



The area was visited in 1769 by Gaspar de Portolà. A historical marker dedicated to his visit stands in Brea Canyon just north of town. He noted the local Native Americans as "dirty" without realizing that they used crude oil bubbling up in the canyon as topical medicine.

The village of Olinda was founded in present-day Carbon Canyon at the beginning of the 19th century and many entrepreneurs came to the area searching for "black gold" (petroleum). In 1894, the owner of the land, Abel Stearns, sold 1,200 acres (4.9 km2) to the west of Olinda to the newly-created Union Oil Company, and by 1898 many nearby hills began sporting wooden oil-drilling towers on the newly-discovered Brea-Olinda Oil Field. In 1908 the village of Randolph was founded just south of Brea Canyon for the oil workers and their families (and named for Epes Randolph, an engineer on the Pacific Electric Railway). Baseball legend Walter Johnson grew up in Olinda at the turn of the century where he worked in the surrounding oil fields as a youth.[3]

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