Orinda is a city in Contra Costa County with a population was 17,599 at the 2000 census. The town is located just east of the city of Oakland and is home to many affluent suburban professionals who commute to downtown Oakland, San Francisco, and Walnut Creek. Its location provides for a more rustic landscape, and Orinda's many parks and trails make it a destination for many Bay Area hikers and naturalists. Orinda is the 28th richest city with a population of at least 10,000 in the United States.

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Present-day Orinda was located within four Mexican land grants: Rancho Laguna de los Palos Colorados, Rancho Acalanes, Rancho El Sobrante and Rancho Boca de la Cañada del Pinole. The area was originally rural, mainly known for ranching and summer cabins.

In the late 1800s, the land was named by Alice Marsh Cameron in honor of the poet Katherine Philips, who was also known as the "Matchless Orinda". In the 1880s, the United States Surveyor General for California, Theodore Wagner, built an estate which he named Orinda Park.

Orinda was also the site of Bryant Station, a stop on the failed California and Nevada Railroad around the turn of the 20th century. In later times, the area around Bryant Station was known as Orinda Crossroads.

The hills of Orinda

Orinda's popularity as a year-round residence grew after the 1937 completion of the Caldecott Tunnel, which provided easier access to the west. Bisected by California State Route 24 and framed by its rolling oak-covered hills, the city of Orinda was incorporated on July 1, 1985.

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As of the census of 2000, the racial makeup of the city was 87% Caucasian, 0.5% African American, 0.2% Native American, 9.2% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.6% from other races, and 2.8% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race made up 3% of the population.

There were 6,596 households out of which 37% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 72% were married couples living together, 5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20% were non-families. 17% of all households were made up of individuals and 10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.7 and the average family size was 3.0.

In the community, the age distribution of the population was broad, with 26% under the age of 18, 3% from 18 to 24, 20% from 25 to 44, 32% from 45 to 64, and 18% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 94 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $187,600, and the median income for a family was $192,500. The per capita income for the city was $65,400. About 1.1% of families and 1.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.1% of those under age 18 and 1.5% of those aged 65 or over.

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Business District

Orinda also boasts a thriving commercial district, located between Moraga Way and Camino Pablo, just south of highway 24.

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Primary and secondary schools:

Orinda has four public elementary schools: Sleepy Hollow Elementary, Wagner Ranch Elementary, Glorietta Elementary and Del Rey Elementary. Orinda Intermediate School is the only middle school. Together, these five schools comprise the Orinda Union School District. The town's only high school, Miramonte High School, is a part of the Acalanes Union High School District.

Both districts are noted for their academic excellence. Each district is the highest ranked in California in its category according to the state Academic Performance Index (API). Miramonte High School also features strong athletic teams and has produced NFL players as Ken Dorsey, Drew Bennett and Bryan Barker, as well as several Olympians like women's water polo player Heather Petri.

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Public Libraries

The Orinda Library of the Contra Costa County Library is located in Orinda.

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Sports, recreation and the arts

Film Festivals

The Orinda Theatre at night

Starting in 2002, Orinda began hosting the Orinda Film Festival, an annual regional film festival taking place at the historic Orinda Theatre managed by Monica Lind. In 2005, actor William Hurt attended the festival to promote the film “The Blue Butterfly” in which he played a leading role. The festival was last held in 2005.

In August 2009, the California Independent Film Festival announced they will be making the Orinda Theatre their new home. CIFF held its first event in Orinda on September 18, 2009, in which a screening of “The Birds” was attended by actress Tippi Hedren. The 12th Annual California Independent Film Festival was the first time the festival was held in Orinda, and opened on April 22, 2010.

The California Shakespeare Theater

The internationally known California Shakespeare Theater, (a.k.a. "Cal Shakes"), performs from June to October at the Bruns Memorial Amphitheater (located on land leased from EBMUD in the hills north of highway 24). The Theater's conservatory operates throughout the year, featuring programs for children, teenagers, young actors, teachers and adults. The current artistic director is Jonathan Moscone, son of the late San Francisco mayor.

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