The Mission San Juan Capistrano, built in 1801, was the regions first settlement. The large settlement covered the land where Tustin, Costa Mesa, Santa Ana, Orange, Villa Park and Newport Beach now stand. After the region became part of the United States, the carriage maker Columbus Tustin officially founded the city in the 1870s. A Navy anti-submarine airship base was built outside of the city during World War II, and it later became a Marine Corps Helicopter Station. While they are not currently in use, the two hangers are some of the largest wooden structures ever built, and they are noted in the National Register of Historic Places and remain a local fixture.

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Located in Orange County, California, Tustin is part of the greater Los Angeles Metropolitan area. The city is home to a large percentage of sole proprietors and start-ups per capita and boasts one of California's shortest commutes. As a result, Forbes named it one of the best places to live well in the country in 2009. While there are some historical neighborhoods, much of the area is covered with planned communities that include a range of single-family homes. Therefore, it is a largely family focused community with a large percentage of families with children and married couples.

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