Riverside, California, holds a special place in the history of citrus cultivation, earning its nickname as the “City of Arts and Innovation.” The region’s lush landscapes have been synonymous with the flourishing citrus industry, making it a pivotal player in the state’s agricultural history. Riverside, CA can be seen here. 

Citrus Beginnings: Navel Oranges and More

The roots of California’s citrus industry can be traced back to the introduction of Washington Navel oranges in Riverside in the 1870s. These seedless and easy-to-peel oranges thrived in the Mediterranean-like climate of the region, setting the stage for Riverside’s emergence as a citrus powerhouse. Over time, other citrus varieties such as lemons, grapefruits, and mandarins were also successfully cultivated in the area. Click here to read about Castle Park, Riverside: Where Fun and Adventure Collide.

Citrus Experiment Station: A Hub of Innovation

In 1907, the University of California established the Citrus Experiment Station in Riverside, which later became the University of California, Riverside (UCR). This institution played a crucial role in citrus research, developing disease-resistant varieties and innovative cultivation practices that contributed to the industry’s growth not only in Riverside but throughout the state.

Citrus Heritage Park: Preserving the Legacy

To honor its citrus heritage, Riverside established the Citrus Heritage Park. This living museum showcases the history of citrus in the region, featuring preserved groves, historical buildings, and informative exhibits. Visitors can explore the park and gain insights into the evolution of the citrus industry from its early days to the present.

Riverside’s Citrus Industry Today

While the citrus industry has faced challenges over the years, Riverside continues to be a major player in California’s citrus cultivation. The region’s growers employ advanced agricultural practices to ensure the continued success of citrus farming. Visitors to Riverside can still witness the vast citrus groves that dot the landscape, a living testament to the city’s enduring connection to its agricultural roots.

Citrus Festivals and Celebrations

Riverside pays homage to its citrus legacy through annual festivals and events. The Riverside Citrus Heritage Festival and the Riverside Citrus Classic Bike Ride are among the festivities that celebrate the city’s citrus heritage, attracting locals and tourists alike.


In conclusion, Riverside, CA, stands as a living tribute to the rich history of California citrus. From its pioneering days with Navel oranges to the innovative research at UCR and the preservation efforts at the Citrus Heritage Park, Riverside’s citrus legacy is deeply embedded in the city’s identity and continues to be celebrated with pride.