Garden Grove was founded by Alonzo Cook in 1874. A school district and Methodist church were organized that year. It remained a small rural crossroads until the arrival of the railroad in 1905. The rail connection helped the town prosper with crops of orange, walnuts, chili peppers and later strawberries.
In 1933, much of the town's central business district was destroyed by the Long Beach earthquake, and one person was killed at the high school. The post-World War II boom led to rapid development, and Garden Grove was incorporated as a city in 1956 with about 44,000 residents.
An annual event held over Memorial Day weekend, the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival is one of the largest community festivals in the western United States, attracting an estimated 250,000 visitors. It began in 1958 and celebrates the city's agricultural past, which includes cultivating crops such as chili peppers, oranges, walnuts and strawberries. Part of the festivities include the cutting of the world's largest strawberry shortcake, carnival rides and vendors and a celebrity-filled parade. Numerous Garden Grove organizations, including the Miss Garden Grove Scholarship Program, are part of the Memorial Day weekend festivities every year. In commemoration of Garden Grove's 50th anniversary, the city painted some of its fire hydrants with a design that featured a strawberry, recognizing the festival as a big part of Garden Grove's history.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 46.5 km2 (18.0 sq mi) 0.10% of which is water. West Garden Grove is west of Beach Boulevard.
The 2010 United States Census reported that Garden Grove had a population of 170,883. The population density was 9,515.3 people per square mile (3,673.9/km²). The racial makeup of Garden Grove was 68,149 (39.9%) White, 2,155 (1.3%) Black, 983 (0.6%) Native American, 63,451 (37.1%) Asian, 1,110 (0.6%) Pacific Islander, 28,916 (16.9%) from other races, and 6,119 (3.6%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 63,079 persons (36.9%). Non-Hispanic whites were 22.6% of the population, down from 90.6% in 1970. Vietnamese Americans numbered 47,331 of the population. At 27.7% this was the highest concentration of any city in the U.S. except for neighboring Westminster.
The Census reported that 168,942 people (98.9% of the population) lived in households, 1,234 (0.7%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 707 (0.4%) were institutionalized.
There were 46,037 households, out of which 21,361 (46.4%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 26,659 (57.9%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 6,866 (14.9%) had a female householder with no husband present, 3,588 (7.8%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 2,025 (4.4%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 269 (0.6%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 6,491 households (14.1%) were made up of individuals and 2,842 (6.2%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.67. There were 37,113 families (80.6% of all households); the average family size was 3.94.
The population was spread out with 43,763 people (25.6%) under the age of 18, 17,383 people (10.2%) aged 18 to 24, 49,105 people (28.7%) aged 25 to 44, 42,106 people (24.6%) aged 45 to 64, and 18,526 people (10.8%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.6 years. For every 100 females there were 99.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 7.7 males.
There were 47,755 housing units at an average density of 2,659.1 per square mile (1,026.7/km²), of which 26,240 (57.0%) were owner-occupied, and 19,797 (43.0%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.2%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.6%. 96,308 people (56.4% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 72,634 people (42.5%) lived in rental housing units.
According to the 2010 United States Census, Garden Grove had a median household income of $59,988, with 15.5% of the population living below the federal poverty line.
Garden Grove uses a council-manager form of government. In July 2015 the city was sued by a resident who claimed that the longstanding at-large elections had affected the Latino vote and was in violation of the California Voting Rights Act. On January 26, 2016, the city council voted to settle the lawsuit, and therefore adopted that council members would be voted by district (six districts total) and no longer at-large; the mayor, however, will continue to be elected at-large. The city council consists of mayor Steven R. Jones, mayor pro tem Phat Bui, Kris Beard, John R. O'Neill, Thu-Ha Nguyen, Stephanie Klopfenstein and Kim B. Nguyen. According to the city's most recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the city's various funds had $206.0 million in Revenues, $193.0 million in expenditures, $1,098.9 million in total assets, $251.5 million in total liabilities, and $196.3 million in cash and investments.
The following list of city officials is current as of December 2016.
Of the 63,190 registered voters in Garden Grove; 35.1% are Republicans and 36.8% are Democrats. The remaining 24.2% either declined to state political affiliation or are registered with one of the many smaller political parties.
Fire protection in Garden Grove is provided by the Garden Grove Fire Department with ambulance transport by Care Ambulance Service. The Garden Grove Police Department provides law enforcement with mutual aid assistance offered at times by the Anaheim Police Department's helicopter, and the Orange County Sheriff's Department Air Unit.
In the California State Senate, Garden Grove is in the 34th Senate District, represented by Republican Janet Nguyen.
In the California State Assembly, Garden Grove is split between the 65th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva, the 69th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Tom Daly, and the 72nd Assembly District, represented by Republican Travis Allen.
In the United States House of Representatives, Garden Grove is split between California's 46th, 47th, and 48th congressional districts, which are represented by Lou Correa (D–Santa Ana), Alan Lowenthal (D–Long Beach), and Dana Rohrabacher (R–Costa Mesa), respectively.
According to the City's 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
The Garden Grove Unified School District serves most of the city, as well as the Westminster School District and the Orange Unified School District, which serves portions in Garden Grove.
Garden Grove is home to two stage theaters, the Gem Theater and the Festival Amphitheater. The Festival Amphitheater hosts Shakespeare Orange County, which presents an annual Shakespeare Festival each summer. Both venues are owned by the City of Garden Grove, but operated by outside entities. The Gem Theater is currently operated by Damien Lorton and Nicole Cassesso of 'One More Productions'. The Festival Amphitheater is managed by Thomas Bradac, the producing artistic director of Shakespeare Orange County.
The Garden Grove Playhouse used to be an active theatre, now closed down. It was operated by a non-profit group of the same name.
The song "Garden Grove" by Sublime details taking a trip to Garden Grove.Justin Chon, actor, was born here
Wally George, talk-show host
Scott Klopfenstein, backup singer, keyboardist, trumpeter and guitarist for the ska-punk band Reel Big Fish
Dexter Holland, lead singer, The Offspring, also wrote the song "The Kids Aren't Alright" about the city
Steve Martin, actor, comedian, musician and writer; graduate of Garden Grove High School
Jennette McCurdy, country music artist and actress, iCarly and Sam & Cat
Monique Powell, lead singer, Save Ferris
Eunice Pringle, actress, notorious for accusing movie mogul Alexander Pantages in 1929 of rape
Kevin 'Noodles' Wasserman, lead guitarist, The Offspring
Atreyu, a metalcore band
Kieu Chinh, actress
Poreotics, dance crew
Dave Mustaine, lead singer, Megadeth; played baseball in Garden Grove Eastside Little League, lived on Pearce Ave
Basil "Bill" Poledouris, musician; motion picture film score music composer
Vicky Nguyen, news reporter, KFYR-TV, NBC Affiliate
Bert Blyleven, Major League Baseball pitcher, Hall of Famer, color commentator, graduate of Santiago High School
Ed Caruthers, Olympic silver medalist, 1968 Mexico City. Taught at Bolsa Grande High School.
Bobby Crosby, MLB Rookie of the Year (2004), attended Pacifica High School and La Quinta High School
Mary Decker, runner in National Track and Field Hall of Fame; grew up in Garden Grove
Lenny Dykstra, MLB player with Mets, Phillies; graduate of Garden Grove High School
Amanda Freed, Olympic gold medalist in softball (2004), attended Pacifica High School, Bell Intermediate and Patton Elementary
Luis Gil, soccer player for Real Salt Lake
Gary Hall, Sr., Olympic swimmer, silver medalist
Lorrin "Whitey" Harrison, legendary surfer and surfing innovator
Mike Iupati, football player
Jeremy Jackson, mixed martial artist
Norm Johnson, NFL kicker
Darryl Kile, MLB pitcher
Leah O'Brien, softball infielder, Olympic gold medalist 1996
Craig Paquette, MLB third baseman, graduate of Rancho Alamitos High School
Nam Phan, mixed martial artist
Troy Polamalu, NFL player with the Pittsburgh Steelers
Dennis Sigalos, motorcycle speedway rider, winner of the 1982 Speedway World Pairs Championship
Leo Sutherland, MLB player
Ed Templeton, professional skateboarder and artist
Alan Trammell, MLB shortstop and manager for the Detroit Tigers
Matt Treanor, MLB catcher
Randy Vataha, football player at Stanford, Jim Plunkett's favorite receiver
Jim Silva, former California Assemblyman, former Member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, former Mayor of Seal Beach
Bill Thomas, retired U.S. Congressman and former Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee (and alumnus of Garden Grove High School)
Robert K. Dornan, former U.S. Congressman
Janet Nguyen, Orange County supervisor
Curt Pringle, former State Assemblyman, Speaker of the California State Assembly and former mayor of Anaheim
Steve Fossett, aviator and adventurer
Adam Yahiye Gadahn, American Al Q'aeda (born Adam Pearlman) English-speaking spokesperson for Bin Laden and Al Q'aeda (Arabic for "The Base")
Scott Greenall, musician, recording engineer and producer
Michael A. Monsoor, Navy SEAL, Medal of Honor recipient
Tibor Rubin, Medal of Honor recipient
Robert H. Schuller, television evangelist
Nicole Brown Simpson, former wife of Heisman Trophy winner, NFL superstar and actor O.J. Simpson