These are some of the dates when notable events in the Valley’s past occurred. They come from author Kevin Roderick’s research files and the book The San Fernando Valley: America’s Suburb. Many of the events are also discussed elsewhere on the website.
Selected January dates
Jan. 8, 1873 – Patent approval confirms Rancho Ex-Mission de San Fernando at 116,858 acres, the largest ranch in California.
Jan. 9, 1857 – Earthquake topples buildings at Mission San Fernando.
Jan. 11, 1949 – Blanket of snow covers much of the Valley.
Jan. 13, 1847 – Andres Pico, leader of the Californios in the Mexican-American War, surrenders the province to Col. John Fremont at Rancho Cahuenga adobe. The two men become fast friends.
Jan. 13, 1936 – Howard Hughes sets a speed record flying from Burbank to Newark, NJ.
Jan. 13, 1959 – Nuclear accident leaks radiation into the air occurs at the Atomics International lab in the Simi Hills above Chatsworth.
Jan. 16, 1942 – Actress Carole Lombard of Encino dies in a plane crash near Las Vegas.
Jan. 17, 1994 – The Northridge earthquake kills 57, injures 9,158 and devastates many local institutions. Heavy damage makes it the costliest U.S. disaster. The epicenter is actually below the community of Reseda.
Jan. 31, 1957 – Mid-air collision above Pacoima Junior High kills six crewmen and three students on ground. The crash is depicted in the 1987 film La Bamba.
Selected February dates
Feb. 3, 1959 – Teen sensation Ritchie Valens killed in Iowa plane crash along with rockers Buddy Holly and J.P. Richardson. On Feb. 7, 1,000 mourners attend a funeral Mass in San Fernando.
Feb. 5, 1966 – The Grateful Dead entertains at Sepulveda Unitarian Church “acid test.”
Feb. 8, 1915 – D. W. Griffith’s controversial film The Birth of a Nationopens with extensive footage of the Valley.
Feb. 9, 1971 – Sylmar earthquake at 6:01 a.m. kills 64 and inflicts widespread damage.
Feb. 13, 1927 – The Valley’s first radio station—KELW, named for owner Earl L. White—goes on the air.
Feb. 14, 1876 – Gen. Andres Pico, the Valley’s Don and statesman, dies.
Feb. 14, 1969 – Sheraton Universal Hotel opens.
Feb. 22, 1911 – Lot sales begin at new town of Van Nuys.
Feb. 23, 1923 – Townsite of Girard declared open, later renamed Woodland Hills.
Feb. 23, 1944 – Liberty Ship named for Isaac Newton Van Nuys, the late Valley rancher, launched at San Pedro.
Selected March dates
March 2, 1938 – Heavy rain begins the deadly flooding that led to civil resolve to tame the Los Angeles River with dams and concrete channels.
March 3, 1991 – Motorist Rodney King beaten by Los Angeles police officers in Lake View Terrace. A videotape of the incident sets off a chain of events that leads to the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
March 7, 1913 – Little Lands Colony formed in the foothill area that becomes Tujunga.
March 9, 1842 – Gold nugget uncovered in Placerita Canyon and brought to Mission San Fernando.
March 10, 1888 – Chatsworth Park subdivision filed with the county.
March 12, 1928 – St. Francis Dam failure north of the Valley kills more than 450 people.
March 15, 1915 – Universal City, an unusual studio with residents on the Valley side of wild Cahuenga Pass, opens with a weekend-long celebration.
March 25, 1869 – French sheep breeder Eugene Garnier buys Rancho Los Encinos.
March 29, 1915 – Residents in most of the Valley vote to join the city of Los Angeles.
March 31, 1901 – Southern Pacific’s Coast Line opens across the Valley.
Selected April dates
April 5, 1991 – City of Calabasas incorporates.
April 11, 1926 – San Fernando Valley Veterans Hospital opens in Sylmar. (Photo from CSUN Digital Library).
April 15, 1954 – Hollywood Freeway to the Valley dedicated.
April 16, 1873 – Emma Johnson becomes the first child of American settlers born in the Valley.
April 21, 1952 – Burbank cited as gangster hotbed by the California Crime Commission.
April 24, 1874 – San Fernando station opens on Southern Pacific Railroad.
April 29, 1944 – Bing Crosby rendition of “San Fernando Valley” hits #1 in Billboard magazine.
Selected May dates
May 1, 1960 – Secret Lockheed U2 surveillance plane shot down over Soviet Union. Pilot Francis Gary Powers is captured and showcased before being released in a trade for an Eastern bloc spy.
May 2, 1875 – Rancho Tujunga sold to lawyer Andrew Glassell for $4,525.
May 9, 1945 – Plans for the development of a new planned community, Panorama City, are announced the day after World War II ends in Europe.
May 12, 1929 – Pickwick Airways begins service to San Francisco from Grand Central Airport.
May 25, 1923 – City of Los Angeles buys Casa de Cahuenga site on Lankershim Boulevard for historic park.
May 27, 1931 – Flood control dam in Big Tujunga Canyon dedicated.
May 31, 1862 – President Abraham Lincoln signs order granting ownership of Misson San Fernando (pictured, in 1897) to the Catholic church.
Selected June dates
June 1, 1950 – Birmingham Hospital for paraplegic World War II veterans closes, and eventually becomes Birmingham High School.
June 9, 1980 – Actor Richard Pryor runs from his home at 17267 Parthenia Street in Northridge with severe facial burns.
June 11, 1931 – Weekly boxing matches begin at Burbank’s Jeffries Barn, home of former heavyweight champ Jim Jeffries.
June 15, 1915 – Most of historic Rancho Los Encinos sold to W. H. Hay, who subdivides the community of Encino.
June 17, 1846 – Mexican Gov. Pio Pico sells most of the Valley (116,858 acres) to Eulogio de Celis of Los Angeles for $14,000. De Celis honors a longterm lease of the land back to Andres Pico.
June 19, 1942 – Sixteen-year-old Norma Jean Baker marries Van Nuys neighbor Jim Dougherty but soon ditches him to become famous as Marilyn Monroe.
June 20, 1969 – Newport ’69—the largest pre-Woodstock rock festival in the U.S.—begins at Devonshire Downs in Northridge.
June 24, 1971 – An underground fire in a Sylmar water project tunnel claims 17 lives.
June 30, 1930 – Howard Hughes’ film Hell’s Angels premieres with a spectacle at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
Selected July dates
July 1, 1929 – Community of Zelzah changes its name to North Los Angeles.
July 4, 1943 – San Fernando Valley Historical Society is formed.
July 6, 1964 – Valley Music Theater, an unusual in-the-round construction, opens in Woodland Hills.
July 8, 1845 – Governor Pio Pico creates Rancho Los Encinos, awarding 4460 acres along the Los Angeles River to three Indians. They soon lose the land over unpaid taxes.
July 12, 1869 – Pio Pico sells his half-interest in the Valley to the San Fernando Farm Homestead Association, a group headed by Isaac Lankershim.
July 12, 1949 – Thirty-five passengers and crew die when a Standard Airlines C-46 trying to land at Lockheed Air Terminal in Burbank crashes in Santa Susana Pass. Fourteen people survive, some of them rescued by robed followers of Khrishna Venta.
July 12, 1959 – Last runway closes at Grand Center Airport in Glendale.
July 14, 1876 – Two ends of the railroad tunnel being excavated north of San Fernando connect, creating the country’s longest tunnel.
July 23, 1912 – First traffic fatality on Sherman Way, the new east-west highway across the Valley. The speed likmit is posted at 100 miles an hour to encourage motorists to drive the road and buy Valley real estate.
July 29, 1929 – Ground-breaking at United Airport, later Burbank Airport.
Selected August dates
August 1, 1941 – Community of Girard becomes Woodland Hills.
August 1, 1977 – Former U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers dies in the crash of his KNBC-4 traffic helicopter in Encino.
August 5, 1769 – First Europeans enter the Valley with the Portola expedition and camp at a Tongva settlement beneath oak trees in today’s community of Encino.
August 5, 1962 – Marilyn Monroe, formerly of Van Nuys High, dies of a drug overdose at her home in Brentwood.
August 7, 1940 – Hansen Dam across deadly Tujunga Wash is dedicated.
August 8, 1912 – Southern Pacific train depot opens at Zelzah, later Northridge.
August 9, 1969 – Charles Manson followers murder actress Sharon Tate and six others in Benedict Canyon, then return to the Spahn ranch in Santa Susana Pass. Hours later, Manson leads an outing that ends in the murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their Los Feliz home.
August 16, 1962 – Maddux Airlines begins scheduled flights from Van Nuys Airport to Las Vegas. The service does not last.
August 17, 1964 – Daughter of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and a second girl are killed in a crash of Chatsworth’s Chapel of the Canyon church bus.
August 23, 1964 – Beatlemania strikes the Valley when the Fab Four visit the Cinnamon Cinder club on Ventura Boulevard before their first L.A. concert.
August 24, 1968 – Aetna Life & Casualty pays $30 million for 620 undeveloped acres of the former Warner Ranch in Woodland Hills.
August 31, 1893 – First plat map filed with the county for Chatsworth Park.
Selected September dates
Sept. 5, 1876 – Golden spike driven at Lang Station on the far side of Newhall Pass opens the Southern Pacific railroad north from San Fernando. Train travel between the Valley and Northern California becomes possible.
Sept. 5, 1975 – Lynette (Squeaky) Fromme, a follower of Charles Manson who had lived at Spahn Ranch in Chatsworth, tries to shoot President Gerald Ford.
Sept. 8, 1797 – Founding Mass held at Mission San Fernando, Rey de España.
Sept. 9, 1932 – Moses H. Sherman, namesake of Sherman Oaks and Sherman Way, dies in Newport Beach.
Sept. 12, 1949 – First Valley College classes are held in temporary quarters at Van Nuys High School.
Sept. 15, 1874 – State Sen. Charles Maclay files a plat map for San Fernando, the first town founded in the Valley.
Sept. 15, 1967 – NBC debut of “The Accidental Family,” sitcom about a Valley father and son starring Jerry Van Dyke.
Sept. 16, 1959 – Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union, vists the Valley at the height of Cold War tensions.
Sept. 18, 1962 – First flight of the Pregnant Guppy airplane, at Van Nuys Airport.
Sept. 20, 1889 – Miguel Leonis, notorious Calabasas rancher and troublemaker, dies in a fall from his wagon in Cahuenga Pass.
Sept. 24, 1909 – A syndicate of investors led by Los Angeles Times owner Harrison Gray Otis pays $2.5 million for 47,500 acres that used to belong to the Lankershim family ranching empire.
Sept. 24, 1956 – First classes held at San Fernando Valley State College, later CSUN.
Sept. 25, 1996 – Campus violence erupts over a CSUN appearance by Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
Sept. 27, 1930 – Sepulveda Boulevard tunnel under Mulholland Highway completed.
Sept. 27, 1942 – Motion Picture Country Home dedicated at Calabasas.
Selected October dates
Oct. 1, 1928 – Metropolitan Airport opens as a grass landing strip at Woodley Ave. and Saticoy St. It is later renamed Van Nuys Airport.
Oct 8, 1833 – The Los Angles ayuntamiento sends Jose Antonio Carillo, a prominent Angeleno, to the Valley to protest a makeshift dam on the Rio Los Angeles.
Oct. 12, 1954 – First golf course opens in Sepulveda Dam basin.
Oct. 19, 1947 – KGIL radio goes on the air.
Oct. 20, 1784 – Rancho San Rafael granted to ex-Spanish soldier Jose Verdugo.
Oct. 20, 1935 – Paved Sepulveda Boulevard opens through the Santa Monica Mountains, with a tunnel under Mulholland Highway.
Oct. 28, 1966 – Pink Lady of Malibu Canyon appears.
Selected November dates
Nov. 1, 1938 – Community of North Los Angeles changes its name to Northridge.
Nov. 2, 1947 – Devonshire Downs harness racing track opens in Northridge.
Nov. 2, 1950 – Campo de Cahuenga monument dedicated at the Universal City site of the 1847 “Capitulation of Cahuenga.”
Nov. 4, 1968 – Black students take over the Valley State College administration building in a protest sparked by hasrd feelings at a campus football game.
Nov. 5, 1913 – Los Angeles Aqueduct from the Owens Valley opens in a big ceremony at the foot of Newhall Pass.
Nov. 9, 1920 – Olive View tuberculosis sanitarium opens at Sylmar.
Nov. 9, 1946 – First San Fernando Valley air show is held at Van Nuys Airport.
Nov. 25, 1873 – Railroad tracks from Los Angeles reach the townsite of San Fernando, connecting the Valley to the larger world.
Selected December dates
Dec. 1, 1959 – Los Angeles Airways begins short-lived helicopter service between Van Nuys and Los Angeles International airport.
Dec. 2, 1959 – Bookie Jack Whalen murdered in the presence of mobster Mickey Cohen at Rondelli’s in Sherman Oaks. Cohen is charged in the murder but gets off.
Dec. 5, 1831 – Rebel Californio forces from Los Angeles wound Gov. Victoria in a skirmish with lances and pistols on the Valley floor.
Dec. 5, 1845 – Pio Pico leases Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando to his brother Andres, beginning 25 years of Pico stewardship of the Valley.
Dec. 10, 1958 – Cult leader Khrishna Venta, nee Francis Pencovic, dies when jealous ex-followers dynamite his compound in Box Canyon.
Dec. 10, 1958 – Ritchie Valens gives a free concert at Pacoima Junior High. Taped by a student, then released as an album after his death, it is considered a rock and roll classic.
Dec. 11, 1930 – Community of Tarzana recognized by U.S. Post Office.
Dec. 12, 1970 – Granada Hills defeats San Fernando for the city high school football championship in a racially charged title game cut short by fistfights.
Dec. 16, 1911 – Pacific Electric Red Cars from Los Angeles reach Van Nuys.
Dec. 17, 1952 – Ground broken for Anheuser-Busch brewery in Van Nuys.
Dec. 27, 1924 – Mulholland Highway opens through the Santa Monica Mountains as a scenic, unpaved drive.