At the center of Orange County Great Park, a roughly 4700-acre piece of land once owned by the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station is now being transformed to house over 10,000 families in Irvine.
Back in 1942, the Marine Corps bought the land from its owner, James Irvine Sr., for $100,000. Irvine had inherited the 107,000-acre ranch from his merchant father who had acquired the property from its Spanish owners in 1860.
From a former bean field, within a couple of years, the land became the largets Marine air station on the West Coast. By the end of 1944, the base was home to 1,248 officers and 6,831 enlisted personnel.
The El Toro "Flying Bull" patch was designed by Walt Disney Studios in 1944.
While it was active, all U.S. Presidents in the post-World War II era landed in Air Force One at this airfield. To read more about the history of the El Toro Marine Corps, check out the Historic California Posts: Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro. The California State Military Museum.
I drive by the air station everyday after I drop my kids at school. Fascinated by the history of the location, I decided to take some pictures on a weekend. Not much has left from the station, but the broken windows, the faded paint on the walls, and the remainder of buildings and structures, still can tell the stories of people who once lived and worked here.