California Gardens

One of a handful of streets in that development known as Little America, on the edge of Efford leading down to what the locals used to call Willow Plot. Originally laid out after the war with American pre-fabricated housing California Gardens clearly owes its name to an American State – in this case the most populous of all fifty-one American States. The third largest in geographical terms California was known to the Spanish explorers in the 1540s and to Drake, who visited in 1579 and christened the area he found Nova Albion (New Albion – Albion being the ancient name for Britain). The 400th anniversary of Drake’s visit was well celebrated in California. However the name California itself would appear to have come via the Spanish presence and may well have been conferred by the Spanish conqueror of Mexico Hernan Cortes (two theories suggesting either that it came from Queen Cliphia who reigned over a mythical sunny Greek island or from the Spanish “caliente fornalla” – “hot furnace”). Since 1950 the population of sun-soaked California has more than doubled and curiously enough although 90% of those that live there were born in America the rest are mainly Mexican, Canadian, British, Chinese and Japanese.