Riverside Through the Decades


1900 orange trees on Tibbets property Image credit UC Riverside Avery Field Collection

The coveted two Parent Washington Navel Orange Trees wrapped in barbed wire at their original home
on the Tibbets family property. Eliza Tibbets obtained these two Brazilian navel orange trees by way of
Washington, D.C. The trees went on to be the parents of an international citrus empire known as the
“Second California Goldrush,” making Riverside the wealthiest city in the nation, per capita, in 1895.

Steps away from the Glenwood Mission Inn, Charles M. Loring, a wealthy Minneapolis businessman,
constructed a three-story office building for $75,000, including an opera house, library, fire station and
police department. Becoming one of Riverside’s greatest assets in the early 20th century, the Loring
Building and its opera house was acclaimed as the finest in California.

Gone are the days of horse and carriage at the Mission Inn stables; now Model T cars make laps in the
hotel’s circular driveway — through the iconic arched Campanario entry. The Mission Inn’s horse stables
were transformed into automobile storage and rental facilities for the evolving means of transportation.

Displaying a new City of Riverside Water Department truck on the steps of Riverside’s first City Hall
building makes for quite the spectacle on a weekday in the late 1930s. Across the street from the
Mission Inn, this Spanish Renaissance Revival building operated as Riverside City Hall from 1924-1975.

The Mission Inn’s iconic St. Francis of Assisi wedding chapel is home to over 300 weddings a year and
has been the wedding destination of choice by some of history’s famous figures, such as Bette Davis. On
Nov. 30, 1945, Bette Davis married her third husband in the St. Francis chapel, followed by a
reception in the galleria — the Inn’s statue gallery today. The marriage lasted five years and Bette
married her fourth husband in 1950.

The architectural firm of Burnham and Bliesner of Los Angeles were selected in 1902 to prepare the
design for “California’s most beautiful courthouse.” The Riverside courthouse design is modeled after
the Grand Palais of Fine Arts, which was constructed for the 1900 Paris Exposition. Since its 1903
opening, the courthouse exterior is largely unchanged while the world around it evolves — such as these
1950s cars sputtering along Main and 10th streets.

UC Riverside is known throughout the state for its signature mid-century Brutalism and New Formalism
architecture. The College of Letters and Science Library — later renamed to the Tomás Rivera
Library — was one of the original five buildings on campus. Designed by Graham Latta and Carl Denny,
the building was completed in 1953, followed by two additions in 1963 and 1968. Addition II is visible in
this 1965 image.

As Riverside’s population exploded in numbers during the two decades following World War II, the seat
of local government was also growing — and the need for a larger City Hall. This October 1973 image is of
the groundbreaking for a New Formalist-style City Hall designed by local architect Herman Ruhnau and
includes seven stories of locally sourced mid-century Norman bricks, wraparound balconies and open
floorplans. City Hall opened to the public on Oct. 6, 1975.

A $50-million restoration project of the historic Mission Inn in the early 1980s included the
demolition and reconstruction of the iconic Deventh Street arches and main entrance Campanario arch. This
1985 image captures the collapse of the original Campanario. Following much of this work, the Inn was
closed to the public for eight years due to loss of an owner and operator.

The grand reopening of the Mission Inn, following eight years of closure, was the local triumph that
defined the 1990s. Purchased on Christmas of 1992, Duane Roberts and his wife, Kelly Roberts, were the
owners who oversaw the May 1993 reopening — complete with a Victorian-era parade and a guest
elephant as a nod to the notorious elephant who stampeded through the Inn’s barber shop nine
decades prior.

The Fox Theater was one of many city facilities that benefited from the “Riverside Renaissance,” which
invested nearly $2 billion into city infrastructure and facilities. This image from June 24, 2008,
shows the progress of replastering the exterior walls and installing recreated 1920s clay roof tiles. The
full restoration of the Fox in 2007-2009 was the first restoration project to take place in the theater
since opening in 1929.

Riverside made a triumphant return to the 2018 Pasadena Rose Parade following a 67-year hiatus. The
float celebrated the 25th anniversary of the nationally recognized Festival of Lights. Riverside’s float won
the 2018 award for “Most Quintessential California Design” because of its unique depiction of the
California lifestyle — mission architecture, citrus and lush landscapes.

With the decade still unfolding, the grand opening of The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art &
Culture — the first Chicano art museum in the nation — is one of the events that will define this decade.
This June 16, 2022, image captures Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson gifting Cheech Marin the key to the city
as Riverside becomes the national center of Chicano art.