Looking back to the past
Drawn by the San Fernando Valleys picture-perfect terrain, people have been putting down roots in the North Hollywood area for more than 4,000 years. In 2000 BC, Chumash and Shoshone tribes built villages near the Los Angeles River, where they lived in obscurity until the arrival of Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola in 1769. By 1797, the San Fernando de Espana Mission was consecrated and less than twenty years later, the area began to flourish.
California, under Spanish rule until 1821 and a Mexican republic until 1847, entered the Union as the 30th state in 1850. During the next 40 years, settlers, including Isaac Lankershim and W.C. Weddington, settled the land, established ranches, stores, and hotels in what would later become the Universal City-North Hollywood area. In the late 1800s, the Southern Pacific Railroad constructed The Southern Pacific Train Station on Chandler Boulevard, just west of Lankershim Boulevard, and supplied fruit growers, farmers, and ranchers with a convenient way to distribute their goods. By 1910 the local Bonner Fruit and Cannery commenced shipping tons of fruit to California and national markets. A bank and a newspaper opened and thrived, and Lankershim Boulevard became the first thoroughfare outside the city of Los Angeles to install electric streetlights.
North Hollywood has been in the spotlight ever since. Since Carl Laemmles Universal Film Manufacturing Company began experimenting with filmmaking in 1912 and opened the gates of a 230-acre ranch, called Universal City in 1915, the East San Fernando Valley has been in the business of making movie magic.
While the cameras were rolling in Universal City, farmland and ranches gave way to poultry ranches, new homes, and offices; the area became one of the fastest-growing localities in the country. By the 1940s, Warner Brothers, Republic, Universal, and Disney had set up studios and were producing hundreds of movies a year. With the dawn of television in the early 1950s, television production companies opened their doors in Burbank, and actors, set designers, animators, and other entertainment professionals flocked to North Hollywood, building and buying houses close to their workplaces. In 1959, the Music Corporation of America bought Universal Studios as a production site for filming television shows.
During the late 1960s and 1970s, the local economy was in flux with many stores going out of business or moving out of the downtown core. The community rallied and set about rebuilding the North Hollywood Business District. By the 1980s, Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park had become an internationally acclaimed tourist attraction, entertaining 40,000 visitors a day, while buildings-housing everything from offices and stores to movie theaters-sprang up throughout Universal City and North Hollywood.
Growth and development continued into the 1990s, with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences opening its new headquarters on Lankershim Boulevard and the construction of the Universal CityWalk, a pedestrian thoroughfare featuring shopping, dining, and entertainment. NoHo, designated as a city of Los Angeles arts district, draws residents and visitors into the heart of North Hollywood, with galleries, dance troupes, and theater productions.
The Universal City-North Hollywood area is currently undergoing an exciting renaissance, promising a vibrant and prosperous future as the communities welcome an increasing number of entertainment and multi-media companies. Streetscapes take on a more sophisticated appeal and many new projects are on the drawing boards, including a major expansion of Universal Studios and the construction of a subway between the UC-NH area and downtown Los Angeles.
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