These photographs illustrate aspects of San Fernando Valley life in the 19th and 20th centuries. They include a sampling of the more than 150 photos in The San Fernando Valley: America’s Suburb, plus some images not included in the book. They are reproduced small here to allow quicker loading.
They appear in roughly chronological order. Links to additional photos are included at the bottom.
Field workers on the Valley floor in the late 19th century.
Andres Pico, hero of the Californios and landlord of the Valley for most of the period from 1845 to 1872. He lived at the former Mission San Fernando.
These folks are inside the ruins of the Mission San Fernando chapel in 1888. Note the sunlight filtering in, the lack of religious symbols and the dirt floor, apparently dug up by treasure seekers. The chapel has been beautifully restored inside the current mission grounds.
Ruins of Mission San Fernando Rey in 1903, after decades of neglect. Today the convento (shown), the largest adobe built in Spanish California, faces onto San Fernando Mission Boulevard in Mission Hills.
Horse teams such as this one in 1905 could harvest 60 acres of wheat a day. This crew is probably on the Lankershim ranch.
Devil’s Slide was carved into Santa Susana Pass in 1860 as a stagecoach route out of the Valley and up the coast.
The Overland Mail Co. charged $4 to ride from Rancho Encino over the pass.
First billiards parlor in the town of San Fernando. Proprietor Bruno Praster is second from right. Date of photo unknown
The Hotel Cecil in Lankershim, the 19th century farming village that became North Hollywood.
San Fernando’s town baseball team, circa 1910
On Nov. 13, 1913, all eyes were on the first Sierra Nevada water to arrive in the Valley through William Mulholland’s aqueduct. The original cascade remains in use beside Interstate 5 in Sylmar, below a newer channel.
Photo taken in 1915 of a house built from local limestone at Rancho Encino in the 1870s. The Garnier home still stands in Los Encinos State Historic Park.
This is the intersection of today’s Ventura Boulevard (foreground) and Topanga Canyon Boulevard, in the real estate development of Girard. The subdivision opened in 1923 and failed during the Depression, but later saw new life as Woodland Hills.
Toluca Lake in 1924, before movie stars built homes enclosing the view.
All that remained of St. Francis Dam above Saugus after it collapsed March 12, 1928. The tragedy ended the career of William Mulholland.
San Fernando Fruit Growers Assn. packing house, probably in the 1930s.
Collapsed bridge over the L.A. River at Colfax Avenue in the flood of March, 1938
Swimming pool store in the 1940s near the intersection of Ventura and Sepulveda boulevards in Sherman Oaks.
This 1956 scene along Ventura Boulevard in Woodland Hills could have been shot a century earlier.
This woman defended her home against condemnation for the Golden State Freeway in 1958.