San Juan Capistrano Information and Facts

A Brief History of San Juan Capistrano

The City of San Juan Capistrano is a unique community grounded in a history of native American culture, the Mission established by Franciscan missionaries in 1776, and an agrarian past. Officially incorporated as a city in 1961, San Juan Capistrano recently celebrated 40 years of city hood. A council-manager form of government, with five elected council members elected citywide, direct the city operations and municipal services.

The City has grown from a small community of approximately 10,000 persons in 1974 to a developed city of 34,193 in 2004, with a variety of land uses providing open space, recreation, housing, jobs, shopping and services. The City prides itself on effectively maintaining its open space character by acquiring land to preserve its defining ridge lines, hillsides, and trails. Nearly 40% of the City is in open space and park land. Only about 10% of land suitable for development still remains vacant.

“The Jewel of the Missions” has been the center of Orange County since its founding by Padre Junipero Serra on November 1, 1776. Today it is one of California’s most important historical, cultural, and educational centers. The Mission is the seventh of 21 Spanish Missions established in California by Franciscan Padres. Spain controlled California until 1821, when Mexico won its independence. In 1845, the Mission was sold for $710 to Don Juan Forster. His family lived at the Mission for 20 years. In 1865, Abraham Lincoln returned the Mission to the Catholic Church. In 1915, Mary Pickford was married in the Mission chapel.

Areas of interest within the Mission walls include early adobe barracks, Friars’ quarters, olive millstone, cemetery, aqueduct system, the beautiful gardens, and the original Stone Church. The Church was completed in 1797 and partially destroyed by earthquake in 1806.

The Mission has embarked on a $20-million preservation campaign to protect the historical landmark. Temporary shoring and bracing of the stone church and stabilization of the Mission’s adobe buildings have been completed. Mission San Juan Capistrano is a non-profit historic site supported solely by tourism and gifts.

The Mission is located on Ortega Highway west of Interstate 5 and is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas & Good Friday p.m.) The Mission grounds are available for private functions and corporate events. Guided tours of the Mission can also be arranged. Mission San Juan Capistrano.

 For information, call 949-234-1300 or visit the Mission San Juan Capistrano website .

The mission has events nearly every weekend from concerts under the stars, to garden shows, fashion shows, living history reenactments, and pirate festivals.


Current population: over 33,826
% of population aged 0-19: 30.8%
Median household income: $63,841
Total households: 10,930
Average household size: 3.06
Home ownership – own: 79%
Home Ownership – rent: 21%
Range of rental prices for apartments: Start at $1,000 per month and up
Range of home values: from low $300,000 to more than $7,000,000
Average Temperature January: high – 67, low – 44
Average Temperature July: high – 77, low – 60
Average yearly temperature: 67
Average Rainfall: 13.56 inches

San Juan Capistrano

Orange County Information



Arne Dewitt