Oxnard encompasses six school districts and one community college. In close proximity is a four-year university, California State University, Channel Islands, that opened its doors for students in the fall of 1999.
A new Regional Medical Center was constructed and dedicated in 1992. St. John's Regional Medical Center opened as a 261-bed acute care hospital with a full array of programs and services, and an outstanding medical staff. Today, St. John's continues to flourish with distinguished Centers of Excellence, such as HeartOne for cardiac care, the Cancer Center of Ventura County and The Parkinson's Center at St. John's.
In addition to the Strawberry Festival, the annual Point Mugu Airshow is a big draw with aviation's hottest “top guns” performing extreme aerobatics. Although it is a modern city, Oxnard has a historic past. The earliest inhabitants of the area were the Chumash Indians who lived in round, thatched houses and were known for their well-constructed plank canoes and fine basketwork. After a number of Spanish explorations, Jose de Galvez, utilizing powers bestowed upon him by King Charles III, appointed Father Junipero Serra to head missions in Alta California. Mission San Buenaventura was the halfway point between the San Diego and Monterey missions and was established in 1782. Pueblo life and sprawling ranchos began to spring up around the site of the mission, and California families exerted their influence until the State of California was added to the Union in 1850.
During the mid-nineteenth century, immigrants began to pour in from the east coast and Europe. The major industry, agriculture, produced great crops of barley and lima beans. Achille and Henry Levy opened an agricultural brokerage business in 1882, and finally a bank, which encouraged and assisted farmers. Then, in 1897, ranchers Albert Maulhardt and Johannes Borchard believed sugar beets would be a profitable crop for the area, and invited Henry Oxnard to construct a local factory to process the harvests. Oxnard and his three brothers operated the American Beet Sugar factory in Chino and encouraged by a pledge of 18,000 acres of sugar beets from local farmers, built a factory in the heart of the rich fields. The Southern Pacific Railroad constructed a spur right to the factory site so the processed beets could be shipped out.
A town quickly sprang up near the factory. Almost overnight businesses and residences appeared around the town square, called the "Plaza", and schools and churches emerged almost as rapidly. The City of Oxnard was incorporated in 1903, taking its name from the Oxnard brothers who had founded the sugar beet factory.
Agriculture has remained the major industry, but Oxnard has witnessed a steady population increase beginning in the 1940's. The establishment of military bases at Port Hueneme and Point Mugu during World War II, and the rise of electronic, aerospace, and other manufacturing industries has contributed to the growth of the city and surrounding areas. Now, tourism has been added to the list of industries, with the former Colonial House being a favorite haunt of movie stars in the 1940s and 1950s.
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