Located on the "coastal tableland" above Newport Beach, Costa Mesa's first inhabitants were native American Indians who settled on the mesa near the banks of the Santa Ana River. Artifacts found here indicate that this site was a part of the village they knew as Lukup.
Building and oil drilling industries were just beginning to bring new growth to the City when the depression hit Southern California.
Today, Costa Mesa is a major commercial and industrial center of Orange County. The city, which formally adopted the slogan "The City of the Arts” in 1999, is home to Pacific Symphony and the South Coast Repertory Theater. The 3,000-seat Segerstrom Center for the Arts (previously known as Orange County Performing Arts Center) was completed in 1985. In 2006, both the 2,000-seat Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall and the 500-seat Samueli Theater held their grand openings.
World War II brought many thousands of people to the area for training at the Santa Ana Army Air Base, located on what is now the Orange County Fairgrounds; Orange Coast College; and the present site of the Civic Center. When the war ended, many of these men and women returned with their families to begin the population boom which continues today.
On June 29, 1953, the city was incorporated and City Council-Manager form of government was chosen. The new city had an area of 3.5 square miles and a population of 16,840. Within 35 years, by 1988, the population had risen to 90,000 and the area to 17 square miles.
Since its incorporation, Costa Mesa has turned from quiet suburban community with deep farming roots to a world-class city featuring some of the best restaurants, retail centers, and cultural arts in the nation, in addition to being the capitol of the action sports industry.