I’ve lived in this town for almost 22 years and I’m still discovering Redlands.

It’s a pleasure to present this special section about our special town. Redlands has a rich history, a vibrant economy, an engaged citizenry, a bright future and so many more things that deserve our praise.

Redlands loves its history, carefully reported by the archivists at A.K. Smiley Public Library, celebrated by the Redlands Area Historical Society and soon to be memorialized by the Museum of Redlands. The library — one of several architectural treasures in our town — this year celebrated the 125th anniversary of the Smiley brothers’ decision to build it.

With the Lincoln Memorial Shrine — the largest tribute to the Great Emancipator west of the Mississippi — and the addition of the library’s Contemporary Clubhouse across from the the Redlands Bowl, this is the heart of the city.

This year, we celebrated the 200th anniversary of a ditch – not just any ditch, but the Zanja, dug by Native Americans in 1819. Diverting water from Mill Creek enhanced the fledgling economy of this area long before the first orange tree was planted here.

What other city has a commission dedicated to preserving what’s left of the citrus industry? Most of the trees have moved to California’s central valley, where land is cheaper, but we’re thankful just to enjoy the smell of orange blossoms in the spring.

Hillside Memorial Park is not just a cemetery, but another rich collection of history, the final resting place of 151 Civil War veterans, 36 Spanish American War vets and 69 World War II burials. In a recent walking tour led by historian Tom Atchley, 67 people paid at least $10 apiece to join the tour.

While Redlands has been special for a long time, it has been greatly enhanced in the past few years. Umbrella Alley has become a must-see place for visitors, across from a new visitors center that provides concierge service for tourists and longtime residents looking to rediscover downtown. The Redlands Passenger Rail Project will bring new economic vitality to our town, with the impressive leadership of Esri.

This special section is meant as guide for newcomers and a celebration for longtime residents. We’ve tried to be as thorough as we can in 32 pages, but we know it’s not comprehensive. If your favorite place isn’t mentioned, let me know at editor@redlandscommunitynews.com.

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