Brea received its name from its rich history as a place where tar flowed from the ground, and where later where one of the biggest oil booms in California occurred. Brea means "tar" in Spanish. Because of its oil boom, the city was filled with workers and oil business people. It was officially recognized as a city in 1911 and was incorporated in 1917 with a population just shy of 800 people. Before the oil boom, indigenous tribes, such as the Tongva and Gabrielinos, and early pioneers used the tar that seeped from the hills to heat homes.
In the late 1800s, oil wells developed in the area and operated strongly until the 1940s, when they began to dry up. During this time, local businesses catered to the oil industry and the residents were either workers in the oil fields or owned the businesses that supported the workers. Residents and visitors can learn about the... (read more)