The area around UC Irvine is filled with condominiums and commercial businesses. But some UCI alumni are old enough to remember the herds of cattle grazing across the street from campus. But before the cattle, there was another animal grazing in the grass in Irvine.
There's a Bison Avenue in Irvine that runs from Jamboree into UCI. It's a reminder of the Newport Harbor Buffalo Ranch.
Phil Brigandi, who wrote "Orange County Place Names A-Z," says, "if you lived in Orange County in the 1950s, everybody knew the Buffalo Ranch. A guy named Gene Clark came in, rented some land from the Irvine Company, trucked in a lot of buffaloes, and opened this little local tourist attraction with barns and Indian teepees, and you could buy buffalo burgers."
There was an Indian trading post, miniature tractor rides for the kids, and the herd of 72 buffaloes trucked in from Kansas.
Brigandi says, "it was just such a great novelty to go out there and see buffalo grazing on the hills, not too far from where UC Irvine is today.
In the 1960s, when UCI was being planned, architect William Pereira used the old Buffalo Ranch barn as his office. There he designed the UCI campus, and the very suburban cities of Irvine and Newport Beach.