IRVINE — Tina Williams, 68, moved here in 1970, when the mailing address was still Santa Ana.
"It was so attractive with the agriculture that we had all around," Williams said of moving into a new house in a largely undeveloped suburb. "There was nothing around. It was all orange groves and people used to sing as they picked the oranges."
When the city was incorporated Dec. 28, 1971, development kicked off at a slow, but steady pace, she said, adding that she would go on to raise a daughter and granddaughter in Irvine, making for three generations.
"The growth in the city has been phenomenal," Williams said. "It was so well-planned. I love the village concept — it really allows you to get to know your neighbors and creates such an intimate feeling in a big city."
Planned communities, such as Williams' Turtle Rock Village, allow neighbors to interact more because there are centralized locations for shopping, dining and entertainment, she explained.
The city will celebrate those decades of history and will honor residents and inaugural businesses and institutions, such as UC Irvine, Allergan, Pfizer and others, at an official 40th anniversary celebration at 5 p.m. Dec. 13 in council chambers at the Irvine Civic Center.
"It's going to be a great opportunity for everyone to come down to the council chambers and reflect on those last 40 years of legacy," Mayor Sukhee Kang said. "We've seen the city come a long way. The master plan is one of the major success components of this city."
The master plan by the Newport Beach-based Irvine Co. led to the village concept, which Kang lauded as the reason why residents "take ownership of where they are and have a sense of belonging to the community."
A screening of the "Oral History Project," a 55-minute documentary which explores the cites roots and key contributing factors of its growth, will be shown during the anniversary event.
Tim Cheng, a city community services commissioner and contributor to the Global Village Festival, an annual multicultural event, spoke at length in the film about the city's diversity.
There are more than 45 languages spoken in the city, which spans about 65 square miles, he said.
"When people watch the video, they will be amazed to see how Irvine is such a diverse, but well-integrated and well-managed city," Cheng said.
All year long the city has hosted community events related to the 40th anniversary, including hosting a photo contest for images related to community, history, outdoors and other categories. Winners of the contest will be recognized at the anniversary event.