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Riverside, CA (Population: 305,255)

Riverside is the seat of Riverside County and has a population of 305,255 (2006), making it the largest city in the Inland Empire region of California. The city was founded in the early 1870s by John W. North, an abolitionist from Tennessee. North named the city Riverside, after the nearby Santa Ana River. The city has a scenic landscape, marked by four notable hills: Box Springs Mountain, Evans (Jurupa) Hill, Tecolote Hill, and Rubidoux Mountain, which is highly noticeable from downtown. Riverside became famous for its citrus industry soon after the city was founded, when it was discovered that Brazilian navel oranges thrived in the Southern California climate. This successful cultivation lead to a different breed of California Gold Rush: the establishment of the citrus industry. There were more than half a million citrus trees in California by 1882, almost half of which were in Riverside.

Features and landmarks of Riverside include the historic Mission Inn, a hotel built in the mission revival style of the 1930s that is located in the Mission Inn District of downtown Riverside; the Historic Riverside County Courthouse; the Fox Theater, where the classic film Gone with the Wind was first shown; California Citrus State Historic Park, which commemorates and preserves some of the disappearing cultural landscape of the citrus industry; and the Riverside Metropolitan Museum, which features anthropology, history, natural history, and educational displays. Other notable sites in Riverside include the "World's Largest Paper Cup" (over three stories tall and made of painted concrete), which sits directly in front of what was once the Dixie Corporation warehouse and manufacturing building; and the University of California, Riverside’s botanical gardens. Riverside is home to the three surviving parent navel orange trees, from which all West Coast navel orange trees are descended.

The Riverside International Film Festival took place in March of 2007, and featured directors and films from around the world. Apart from such sporadic events, Riverside has one premiere annual festival that draws residents and visitors from all over the region. The Riverside Festival of Lights centers around the historical Mission Inn, which is decorated in October and lit the day after Thanksgiving. The festival, which is made possible in part by the celebratory contributions of restaurants and community groups, covers several city blocks and runs through New Year’s Day. Carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, and ice skating color the event each year.