It was founded in 1887 by George and Edward Amerige and named for George H. Fullerton, who secured the land on behalf of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Historically it was a center of agriculture, notably groves of Valencia oranges and other citrus crops; petroleum extraction; transportation; and manufacturing. It is home to several educational institutions, notably the California State University, Fullerton.
California State University, Fullerton, commonly known as Cal State Fullerton or CSUF, was first established in 1957 as Orange County State College. The twelfth member of the California State University system, its main campus is located on 236 acres (1 km²) of a former orange grove in northeast Fullerton near California State Route 57 and Nutwood Avenue; there are six branch campuses. In the spring quarter of 2004, 32,592 students were enrolled in 104 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. CSUF primarily serves commuter students.
Fullerton College is a two-year community college, the oldest in continuous operation in California. Part of the North Orange County Community College District, it is situated on a 63 acre (255,000 m²) campus adjacent to Fullerton Union High School.
The city also prides itself on its public schools, including Fullerton Union High School, the oldest high school in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District as well as all of Orange County, home of historic Plummer Auditorium and the Academy of the Arts magnet program, as well as science magnet school Troy High School.
Fullerton is home to a vibrant music scene. It was a center for the Orange County hardcore punk music scene, producing acts such as The Adolescents, Agent Orange, Social Distortion, and TSOL. Gwen Stefani, lead vocalist of the alternative rock group No Doubt, was a student at CSUF and the group performed there regularly. Other popular groups from the area include The Offspring and Lit.
Contributing greatly to Fullerton's musical heritage was the Fender musical instrument company, whose products such as the Stratocaster and Telecaster electric guitars, Precision Bass bass guitar, and Twin Reverb guitar amplifier revolutionized the music business and contributed greatly to the development of rock and roll. (A list of notable rock performers who did not use a Fender product at some point in their careers would be very short.) Leo Fender sold the company to CBS in 1964; production continued in the Fullerton plant until 1985, when the then-ruined company was sold to a group of private investors. (It was later reconstituted as Fender Musical Instrument Corporation, with its major production facilities in neighboring Corona and across the US-Mexico border in Ensenada, Baja California, and its headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona.) In 1980, Leo Fender and his original partner George Fullerton (relation to the Fullerton founder of the same name unknown) reunited and started a new company, G&L (George and Leo) Guitars, which currently occupies the old Fender factory in Fullerton.
The Muckenthaler Cultural Center on Malvern Avenue near Euclid Avenue houses a museum, art galleries, two symphony orchestras, and a theater group.
Fullerton is also home to the Fullerton Public Library. The Main Library is located on Commonwealth Avenue in Downtown Fullerton and adjacent to the City Hall and Police Station. There is also a branch library, called the Hunt Branch on Basque Avenue.
Fullerton is also home to a diverse and ever-growing theatre scene. The Fullerton Civic Light Opera, one of the largest theatre companies in Southern California, is based at the Plummer Auditorium. Local educational institutions, such as Fullerton College and Fullerton High School's Academy of the Arts, are the source of numerous large-scale productions.
Fullerton maintains 45 city parks and is home to the Craig Regional Park and Ralph B. Clark Regional Park. The Fullerton Arboretum comprises 26 acres (105,000 m²) of sculpted gardens and unusual plants in northeastern Fullerton. Additionally the city features approximately 200 acres (0.8 km²) of recreational land in the Brea Dam Recreational Area, plus an equestrian center and trails, two golf courses, and the Janet Evans Swim Complex.
The city is also one one of the few Southern California municapalities to be served by a completely independent newspaper, the Fullerton Observer www.fullertonobserver.com. The Observer is an all-volunteer paper that is printed two to three times a month. It prides itself on its progressive nature and was founded in the late 1970s by Ralph Kennedy, a fair housing and civil rights activist who advocated saving Coyote Hills as open space.