Charles Bowers was a land developer living in Orange County and before his death he donated land to the City of Santa Ana. The Santa Ana Unified School District includes 37 K-5 elementary schools, nine middle schools 6-8, eight high schools 9-12, five special schools, and one charter school. Also on the east side of the city is the Santa Ana Zoo, which stands out for its collection of monkeys and species from South and Central America. Santa Ana has several wall paintings and murals that represent local history, community events, and cultural diversity in Orange County.
Greyhound Lines is Santa Ana's largest bus service and serves the continental United States and Canada. Santa Ana has highly competitive college and high school sports teams that play at the Santa Ana Stadium and the Santa Ana Unified School District Sports Complex Stadium. Santa Ana was listed as a municipality in Los Angeles County in the 1860 and 1870 censuses, with an area that encompasses most of what is now north and center of Orange County. In 1958, Honer Plaza and Bullock's Fashion Square shopping centers opened, which would replace downtown Santa Ana, with its department stores such as Rankin's, Ward's, Penney's and Buffums.
The Garden Grove Highway (State Route 2) runs near the northern border of Santa Ana and connects Long Beach to the west and the city of Orange to the east. After the expedition of Gaspar de Portolá in 1769 from Mexico City, then capital of New Spain, Fr. Junípero Serra called the Vallejo area of Santa Ana (Santa Ana Valley or Santa Ana Valley). Having been a constituent city since November 11, 1952, the citizens of Santa Ana amended the charter in November 1988 to provide for the direct election of the mayor, who until then had been appointed from among the members of the council.
During World War II, the Santa Ana Army Air Base was built as a training center for the United States Army Air Force. The Mayor and City Council provide the leadership to move Santa Ana forward, ensuring a high quality of life for all. Pasadena, to the northeast, has a wonderful “old-California vibe,” as do the Santa Monica areas and some of the beach communities. The core of the city is the downtown area, which contains both stores and housing, as well as the Santa Ana Civic Center, which is a dense campus of administrative buildings for both the city and Orange County.