Original Spanish explorers settled on the enormous ranchos by land grants made by the King of Spain. Manuel Nieto of the Portolà expeditions received such a grant in 1783, which was divided by his heirs into five separate ranchos in 1834. One of them, 46,806-acre (189.42 km2) Rancho Los Coyotes, included the current site of the City of Buena Park. The rancho’s adobe headquarters lay on what is now Los Coyotes Country Club’s golf course.
The area was transferred from Spanish authority to Mexican rule in 1822 and ceded to the United States in 1848 at the end of the Mexican–American War. California was granted statehood in 1850. Americanization further expanded in the area after completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 and its connection to Los Angeles in 1875. By then, Abel Stearns had acquired Rancho Los Coyotes in consideration for loans made to Pio and Andrés Pico. In 1885, James A. Whitaker, a wholesale grocer from Chicago, purchased 690 acres (2.8 km2) of this land from Stearns. In 1887, Whitaker founded the City of Buena Park in conjunction with the railway development of what we now know as Orange County.
The exact derivation of the name Buena Park is uncertain. One theory is that Whitaker used the name of a Chicago suburb: Buena Park, Chicago, Illinois, although the community in Illinois was also named in 1887. Another theory relates to the artesian well and its park-like grounds once located at the current intersection of what are now Artesia Blvd. and Beach Blvd. Local settlers referred to the area as "Plaza Buena" which means "good park" in Spanish.
The city was incorporated on January 27, 1953. An agricultural center when founded (particularly dairy, wine and citrus products), Buena Park is now primarily a residential suburb and commercial hub.
The Murder of Stuart Tay occurred in 1992.
In 2009, the body of swimsuit model and reality TV star Jasmine Fiore was found stuffed in a suitcase and dumped in an apartment building dumpster near the 7400 block of Franklin Street in Northern Buena Park by a resident searching for recyclables.
Buena Park's E-Zone district, located along Beach Boulevard, is home to several well-known tourist destinations: the venerable Knott's Berry Farm theme park and its sister water park Knott's Soak City, Pirate's Dinner Adventure Show, and a Medieval Times dinner show. The E-Zone has also been home to the Movieland Wax Museum, one of the largest of its kind in the world until it closed in 2005; a Ripley's Believe It or Not! museum, across the street from the Wax Museum; and the Japanese Village and Deer Park on Knott Avenue.
Los Coyotes Country Club, located in the northeast of the city, boasts a 27-hole championship course originally designed by Billy Bell in 1957 and redesigned by Ted Robinson in 1998. The Los Coyotes LPGA Classic golf tournament has been hosted there.
The 105-acre Ralph B. Clark Regional Park (originally Los Coyotes Regional Park), nestled at the foot of the West Coyote Hills, is one of Orange County's prominent parks. Opened in 1981, it is home to an amphitheater, nature trails, and a stocked fishing pond, as well as the Interpretive Center, a small museum which features ice age fossil and local geology exhibits.
The City of Buena Park has its own local history park on Beach Blvd just south of Interstate 5. On these grounds, the city has preserved several historic buildings. These include the Whitaker-Jaynes House (which serves as the city's local history museum) the Bacon House - possibly the oldest surviving structure from the area, the Stage Stop Hotel (which houses the California Welcome Center-Orange County) and the Tice House. The Buena Park Historical Society manages and maintains the historical content of the museum. The Dreger Clock, a 75-year-old multi-faced street clock, best known for the time it spent at Knott's Berry Farm, was installed in front of the Whitaker/Jaynes house overlooking Beach Blvd in September 2009 after a two-year restoration project.
A Nabisco factory on Artesia Boulevard was known for many years as a Buena Park landmark. The red "Nabisco" sign was visible from the I-5 Freeway, and visitors to the town could often smell cookies. The factory produced Honey Maid graham crackers, Ritz Crackers, and Nilla Wafers, among other Nabisco products, before shutting down in 2006.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.6 square miles (27 km2). 10.5 square miles (27 km2) of it is land and 0.03 square miles (0.078 km2) of it (0.28%) is water. One of the things Buena Park citizens are proud of is that Buena Park is considered the center of the southland.
Buena Park is bisected by State Route 91 into North Buena Park and South Buena Park. It is bordered by Fullerton on the east, Anaheim on the southeast, Cypress on the southwest, Cerritos and La Palma on the west, and La Mirada on the north.
The 2010 United States Census reported that Buena Park had a population of 80,530. The population density was 7,631.0 people per square mile (2,946.3/km²). The racial makeup of Buena Park was 36,454 (45.3%) White (27.7% Non-Hispanic White), 3,073 (3.8%) African American, 862 (1.1%) Native American, 21,488 (26.7%) Asian, 455 (0.6%) Pacific Islander, 14,066 (17.5%) from other races, and 4,132 (5.1%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 31,638 persons (39.3%).
The Census reported that 79,716 people (99.0% of the population) lived in households, 553 (0.7%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 261 (0.3%) were institutionalized.
There were 23,686 households, out of which 10,367 (43.8%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 13,570 (57.3%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 3,789 (16.0%) had a female householder with no husband present, 1,746 (7.4%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 1,167 (4.9%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 166 (0.7%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 3,398 households (14.3%) were made up of individuals and 1,386 (5.9%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.37. There were 19,105 families (80.7% of all households); the average family size was 3.67.
The population was spread out with 20,361 people (25.3%) under the age of 18, 8,610 people (10.7%) aged 18 to 24, 22,688 people (28.2%) aged 25 to 44, 20,320 people (25.2%) aged 45 to 64, and 8,551 people (10.6%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.1 years. For every 100 females there were 97.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.5 males.
There were 24,623 housing units at an average density of 2,333.3 per square mile (900.9/km²), of which 13,428 (56.7%) were owner-occupied, and 10,258 (43.3%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.1%; the rental vacancy rate was 5.0%. 45,084 people (56.0% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 34,632 people (43.0%) lived in rental housing units.
According to the 2010 United States Census, Buena Park had a median household income of $64,205, with 11.1% of the population living below the federal poverty line.
There were (possibly in 2000) 23,332 households out of which 43.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.0% were married couples living together, 14.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.7% were non-families. 14.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.32 and the average family size was 3.64.
In the city, the population was spread out with 29.4% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 32.3% from 25 to 44, 19.2% from 45 to 64, and 9.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 98.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $60,336, and the median income for a family was $62,327. Males had a median income of $37,471 versus $30,287 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,031. About 8.0% of families and 11.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.8% of those under age 18 and 6.7% of those age 65 or over.
According to the City's 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
Supermarket chain 99 Ranch Market is based in Buena Park. A Nabisco factory built in 1965 once employed as many as 500 before being shut down; it was demolished in 2006
Buena Park was incorporated as a General Law City on January 27, 1953. In November 2008, the voters adopted a City Charter. The City Charter is a written document approved by the electorate which acts as a “constitution” for the city. Amendments, revisions and repeals of a charter are subject to the vote of the people.
Buena Park operates under council–manager government, in which the City Council is the policy-making body and the City Manager is responsible for carrying out Council policy and everyday management of city functions. An elected City Council of five non-partisan members is elected at large and its chair acts as mayor.
In the California State Senate, Buena Park is split between the 29th Senate District, represented by Democrat Josh Newman and the 32nd Senate District, represented by Democrat Tony Mendoza. In the California State Assembly, it is in the 65th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva.
In the United States House of Representatives, Buena Park is split between the 39th and 47th congressional districts, which are represented by Ed Royce (R–Fullerton) and Alan Lowenthal (D–Long Beach), respectively.
The United States Postal Service Buena Park Post Office is at 7377 La Palma Avenue.
Buena Park is home to one of the 13 special district libraries in California. The Buena Park Library District is a single-purpose library district governed by an elected Board of Trustees, and has as its principal source of income through property tax proration. The library's early history is much like other communities: it operated on and off as a volunteer operation beginning in 1905 at several temporary locations with donated books. It was formally established as a library district through the efforts of the Buena Park Woman's Club in 1919. The current facility's construction was completed in early 1969 financed by a bond measure passed by the citizens of Buena Park on June 6, 1967. The community's library holds over 125,000 library materials.
The city is served by seven different school districts. Buena Park School District covers nearly the entire northern half of the city, which feeds into the Fullerton Joint Union High School District, while the districts of Centralia, Cypress, Magnolia, and Savanna serve the remainder of the city, feeding into the Anaheim Union High School District. Buena Park High School is the only high school within city limits. Kennedy, Savanna, Sunny Hills and Western high schools also all serve the city's students, but are in either Fullerton, La Palma or Anaheim.
Gordon H Beatty, Arthur F. Corey, Charles G. Emery (a 2011 Blue Ribbon Award winner), Carl E. Gilbert, Mabel L. Pendleton and James A. Whitaker Elementary Schools along with Buena Park Junior High are the seven schools that make up the Buena Park School District.
Fire protection in Buena Park is provided by the Orange County Fire Authority. Law enforcement is provided by the Buena Park Police Department. Ambulance service is provided by Care Ambulance Service.
Buena Park's main commercial artery is Beach Boulevard, State Route 39, running north-south and connecting the city's civic center, the E-Zone entertainment district, and Buena Park Downtown shopping center. California State Route 91 and Santa Ana Freeway (Interstate 5) criss-cross the city, connecting it with cities to the east and west, north and south respectively. The Orange County Transportation Authority provides public bus services, but most residents rely on cars.
Fullerton Municipal Airport is the closest airport, but the nearest airport with commercial service is Long Beach Airport, about 13 miles (21 km) to the southwest. Both Union Pacific (originally Southern Pacific) and BNSF railroad tracks cross the city. A Metrolink Orange County Line station in Buena Park opened in September 2007.
Buena Park City Councilman Sangjin Miller Oh—who campaigns and serves as Miller Oh—was charged with multiple felony perjury counts on DMV documents to avoid paying child support to his ex-wife. Oh is accused of committing perjury on six occasions between Sept. 23, 2004, and July 20, 2009 by signing official DMV documents using fraudulent information.