The following is an excerpt from a work-in-progress called The Town I Live In.
For many years, the development of the United States could be understood as rural vs. urban growth. Industrial workers lived in urban cities and agricultural workers lived in rural farming areas. Fullerton was, at first, a rural/agricultural city.
However, by the turn of the century, America saw the rise of a third type of living space...the suburb. In their 1980s study "The Multinucleated Metropolitan Region," M. Gottdiener and George Kephart wrote, "By the 1930s it was well-recognized that the suburban areas possessed commercial and industrial facilities that made them somewhat autonomous from central cities." Orange County in general, and Fullerton in particular began to emerge as one of these new types of population centers.
This trend has continued to the point where now nearly half of the total U.S. population resides in suburban areas.
What were the reasons for this suburban growth? Gottdiener and Kephard cite many forces, including "military-related spending in the permanent war economy, the growth of high technology, the robust real estate market, racism, the flight of the white industrial working class, the construction of traditional (non high-technology) manufacturing plants, the expansion of service-related industries, and new arrangements in the corporate business structure...have all combined to produce the new form of settlement space."
While each of these reasons deserves its own chapter, I would like to focus on the first one, "military-related spending in the permanent war economy." The phrase "permanent war economy" is discussed in depth in Ernest Mandel's book Late Capitalism. This reality is disturbing on many levels, as it suggests that the United States has a structure in place to be permanently at war.
Unfortunately, looking at the 20th and 21st centuries, America has indeed been at war pretty much permanently. At present, we are engaged in at least three military conflicts (Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya), and probably more that are less-televised.
What is Fullerton's role in the "permanent war economy"? One example is the corporation Raytheon, one of the United States military's largest contractors. They build weapons and develop military technology. At present, they are the fifth largest employer in Fullerton.
This is one of Raytheon's offices in Fullerton, located at 1801 Hughes Dr. They employ over 1,800 people.