Many evidences of the old Valley have disappeared—and more vanish every year. This page lists some unofficial Valley landmarks that are no longer with us, taken from The San Fernando Valley: America’s Suburb, the author’s files and reader submissions.
In the 1930s, this private, unlighted, one-hangar field was located a mile west of Burbank Airport (then called Union Air Terminal) at 11036 Sherman Way. It had a single north-south runway and was used by movie stunt fliers and for pilot training. It had originally been named for the previous operator, Bob Lloyd.
Merritt Adamson established the large Adohr Farms dairy in 1916 at Ventura Boulevard and Lindley Avenue. It was named for his wife Rhoda, spelled backwards. His spread of Guernsey milk cows sprawled on both sides of Ventura Blvd. through World War II, but in 1948 — the year before Adamson died — ;encroaching suburbia squeezed Adohr out of Tarzana.
Air raid sirens
Throughout the Cold War years residents of the Valley and Los Angeles heard the mournful wail of air raid sirens once a month. The tests were conducted at 10 a.m. on the last Friday of the month.
The estate of comic actor Edward Everett Horton, who also “served” as honorary governor of the Valley in the 1940s, was in Encino at 5521 Amestoy Avenue. Horton hosted many social and community events at Belly Acres. The writer F. Scott Fitzgerald rented a guest cottage for a time in 1938-39. Horton had to make way in the late 1950s for the Ventura Freeway, which cut right through his property. A short street called Edward Everett Horton Lane off of Burbank Boulevard commemorates the actor.
Bethlehem Star parade
This Christian-themed parade on Van Nuys Boulevard ended its run in 1970 after 21 years, due to waning public interest.
Bird of Paradise tearoom
Biscuits baked to order, steamed Kadota figs and farm-fresh vegetables were featured on the menu in this Devonshire Street establishment listed in a 1935 guide book, “Curious California Customs.” Exotic birds strolling the grounds helped to lure weekend motorists out to Chatsworth for a stop over at Docia Conley’s tea room.
One-acre compound with tropical birds and exotic animals such as pythons on sale was at 15640 Ventura Blvd. in Encino in the 1930s.
Birmingham Army Hospital
The hospital for World War II paraplegics opened in 1944 at Vanowen Street and Balboa Boulevard. Named for Brig. Gen. Henry Patrick Birmingham, it held more than 1,000 patients in wards connected by wheelchair ramps. Some original buildings remain on the campus of Birmingham High, which shares the hospital site with Mulholland Junior High. Until it closed in 1950, it was sometimes dubbed “Birmingham Country Club” due to all the Hollywood stars who visited patients. Footage of the hospital circa 1950 is prominent in The Men, Marlon Brando’s first film.
Bob’s Big Boy
In the Valley’s postwar car culture Bob’s Big Boy reigned supreme. Bob’s was the busiest cruising spot on Van Nuys Boulevard and a date night destination for generations of teenagers. The last original Bob’s drive-in is on Riverside Drive at the border between Burbank and Toluca Lake.
The beer garden with boat rides and exotic bird shows opened in 1966 at the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Van Nuys. Adults were offered free beer and visitors of all ages could tour the brewery by aerial gondola. In 1976 the name changed to the Busch Bird Sanctuary and in 1986 the park closed for good. Parrots and parakeets traced to the park’s flocks still roam the Valley’s skies.
Caddo was an entire air field built by Howard Hughes for his film Hell’s Angels, shot in the Valley in 1928-29. The field, named for his family company, was in the vicinity of Balboa and Roscoe boulevards.
Canoga Avenue pepper trees
Thicket of older trees was registered as a cultural historical monument but was torn down anyway for new construction in Woodland Hills in 1986.
They ruled Van Nuys Boulevard on Wednesday nights — Club Night — from the 1940s into the 1980s and most high schools had at least one. Some of them: Valley Hi-Los, Road Runners, Associated Mopars, Royal GTOs, Valley Vegas, Vandits, Chancellors, Associated Vans, Street Racers, Igniters, Poor Boys, Judgements, Lobos, Lost Angels.
Carnation research laboratory
Brick complex at 8015 Van Nuys Boulevard in Panorama City opened in 1953 as a test lab for devising products such as powdered milk and non-dairy creamer. It has been razed for a public school.
This favorite ice cream parlor, frequently mentioned in reader emails, was on Ventura Blvd. at Woodman Avenue in Sherman Oaks.
Chris’ & Pitts
The last Valley restaurant in the SoCal barbecue chain, at 13237 Victory Boulevard in Van Nuys, closed in 2003 and was torn down for another Walgreen’s drugstore. The neon sign was saved in the collection of the Museum of Neon Art in downtown Los Angeles.
The alcohol-free dance club for teenagers opened in 1962 at 11345 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City. Owned by KRLA disc jockey Bob Eubanks, the club spawned a TV show, a national chain of teen clubs and a pop record by the house band called “Cinnamon Cinder.” In 1964, Eubanks produced the Beatles first Los Angeles appearance, at the Hollywood Bowl, and brought them to the club for a press conference that turned into a mini-riot. See also Grace Hayes Lodge below.
This traveling circus with elephants and organ grinders would stop in the Pacoima area in the 1940s. “Kids went wild, parents smiled, dogs took to the streets, and older boys looked for work under the big top,” Mary Helen Ponce wrote in Hoyt Street.
Club Airport Gardens
This nightclub was opposite Grand Central Airport in the Valley flats of Glendale. “4 Great Nights of Celebrating” the flyers announced for the party marking the end of Prohibition, Dec 5-8 in 1933 — a month after repeal of the liquor ban. Owner Tommy Jacobs proclaimed himself the Head Mortician for the “final joyous funeral ceremonies.”
Cruising on Van Nuys Boulevard was a ritual of local youth culture in at least five decades until a police crackdown ended the tradition in the 1980s. On Wednesday Club Night and on weekends, “the Boulevard” was jammed with cruisers and sidewalk gawkers, stretching from Sherman Way south almost to Ventura Boulevard at its peak. The point was to look and be looked at, to hook up for dates, and to flaunt your style. Cruising was “an expression of democracy…in a three-mile tunnel of high octane exhaust fumes,’’ Charles T. Powers wrote in the L.A. Times.
Public swimming pool in Van Nuys was on Kester Avenue and Hart Street. Some kids of the era remember that it was owned by actor Andy Devine.
Now vanished from maps, this was the original name of the cut in the hills where Barham Boulevard descends from Cahuenga Pass into Burbank.
This 40-acre fairgrounds at Devonshire Street and Zelzah Avenue was the center of equestrian Northridge after it opened in the mid=1940s as a horse racing track. The state purchased it in 1948 to be the home of the annual San Fernando Valley Fair, which moved from Recreation Park in San Fernando. The Downs hosted annual fireworks shows and the Scoutcraft Fair, but entertained its largest crowd the weekend of June 20-22, 1969. Newport ’69, which drew at least 200,000 people, was the nation’s biggest outdoor rock festival until Woodstock, headlined by Jimi Hendrix, Eric Burdon, Marvin Gaye and others. In 1959 the expanding San Fernando Valley State College (now CSUN) claimed the land for expansion, but in 2001 virtually the entire site was razed for a private industrial park under lease to the school.
Don Drysdale’s Dugout
In the early 1960s, the Dodgers’ Hall of Fame pitcher Don Drysdale opened a restaurant on Oxnard Street near his boyhood home in Van Nuys. Don Drysdale’s Dugout was a dinner house and club where players would often gather. Before the 1966 season, as Drysdale and his fellow pitcher Sandy Koufax held out together to pressure the Dodgers for more money, the Dugout received some unwanted publicity when the restaurant’s employees demanded higher pay. Another Dodger at the time, Ron Perranoski, also had a restaurant on Sepulveda Boulevard near Roscoe.
Popular jazz and supper club was on Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood.
Drive-in movie theaters
The Valley had these drive-in movie theaters at their peak in the 1960s: Pickwick, Victory, SanVal, Laurel, Sepulveda, Van Nuys, Reseda and Canoga. No drive-ins remain today.
Non-profit community adult school at 5650 Sepulveda Boulevard in Van Nuys was opened in the early 1960s by three women who wanted to provide classes targeted for women whose education or careers had been interrupted by marriage or motherhood. It grew into a complex of buildings with colorful murals on the exteriors and offered hundreds of classes.
Farrell’s Ice Cream
Farrell’s parlors were known for their extra large portions, Disneyland-esque theme and mega dishes like The Zoo and The Pig’s Trough.
Fat Jones movie stable
Clarence Y. (Fat) Jones provided horses and western gear to the movies from 1912 to his death in 1963. His rental stables at 11340 Sherman Way east of Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood was where many movie horses were trained and kept. It bustled with activity during the era of the westerns.
The big one among membership discount stores in the Valley for many decades until the 1990s.
Real estate ads in 1923 declared Fernangeles “Southern California’s Newest City…Where San Fernando Road meets Lankershim Boulevard.” Residence lots listed for $600 to $900, business lots $750 to $3200. The name suggested a San Fernando Valley country locale, but with proximity to Los Angeles. Located on a busy north-south state highway, the ads claimed that Fernangeles would succeed because “one hundred thousand people have to pass this corner daily.” The name, however, never really caught on. Today, Fernangeles — like Roscoe, its neighbor just south along San Fernando Road — is part of Sun Valley. The name survives on a Los Angeles city park and pool that opened in the late 1920s, and an elementary school built in 1946.
Field Photo Farm
Drinking establishment, social club and horse ranch for friends of director John Ford, it was at 18201 Calvert Street in Reseda from the end of World War II into the 1960s. See Lore for more.
CSUN Fine Arts building
Modernist architect Richard Neutra designed the Fine Arts building that fronted Nordhoff Street at Cal State University Northridge. Built in 1960, it was damaged beyond repair in the 1994 earthquake and torn down.
Flowers Tropical Bird Farm
Compound displaying and selling colorful birds — and supplying them to Hollywood for the movies — was at 17555 Ventura Blvd. in Encino.
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy both lived in the Valley and the movie comedy duo would try out material in their theater at 14155 Magnolia Street in Van Nuys. The Fun Factory was torn down in 1962 to make room for expansion of Magnolia Estates, a development by bandleader Horace Heidt that features replicas of famous waterfalls, including Niagara Falls.
Garden of the Moon pavilion
This popular outdoor dance hall was at 7200 Foothill Boulevard in Tujunga. It was torn down in 1941.
The GM assembly plant on Van Nuys Boulevard at the Southern Pacific railroad tracks opened in 1948 and provided steady work for two generations of Van Nuys auto workers. The site is now a shopping center called The Plant.
This was the original name of the mid-1920s subdivision at Ventura and Topanga Canyon boulevards started by real estate operator Victor Girard. The development later formed the basis of the community of Woodland Hills.
Grace Hayes Lodge
This Studio City restaurant in the 1940s, at 11345 Ventura Blvd., was known for its informality and the possibility that Hollywood celebrities would put on impromptu acts. The address was later the Magic Mushroom club and the Cinnamon Cinder (see above) and is currently Platinum Live.
Grand Central Air Terminal
Located near the Los Angeles River in Glendale, Grand Central was the region’s most glamorous passenger airport in the 1930s. Charles Lindbergh flew the first transcontinental airline flight from there on July 8, 1929, and pre-flight parties for departing Hollywood celebrities were a common sight. In World War II, Grand Central became a training base. After the field closed in 1959 the acreage was developed as an industrial park. Still standing, however, is the Spanish Colonial Revival terminal building and control tower designed by Henry L. Gogerty. Now owned by Disney, it can be seen at 1310 Airway Drive.
Hansen Dam swimming beach
After World War II, the reservoir behind Hansen Dam was allowed to fill and a sand beach was installed. Boating was also welcome. The lake gradually filled with silt from Tujunga Wash and the beach was allowed to deteriorate. The photo is from the Los Angeles Times in 1950.
Dr. Homer Hansen founded this community in the Verdugo Mountains. What remains is part of Shadow Hills. Some of the settlement, including Hansen’s estate, was claimed by the construction of Hansen Dam.
Commercial copter flights to LAX ran for a time in 1959 to help commuters get around traffic snarls. Flights on Los Angeles Airways left from a terminal at Sepulveda Blvd. and Otsego St. In 1965, flights resumed briefly from Van Nuys Airport.
Helms Bakery trucks
Helms trucks roamed the neighborhoods of suburbia in the 1950s and ’60s tooting a distinctive whistle and dispensing fresh bread and pastries out of drawers in the back. Many a Valley native remembers the just-baked aroma of the Helms truck and the sight of the doughnut drawer sliding open to reveal neat rows of crullers and glaze twists.
Large chicken breeding farm — advertised as “A Valley Hatchery for Valley Folks” — was at 13833 Oxnard St. in Van Nuys.
Hody’s coffee shop
Classic 50s-style coffee shop was at 6006 Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood. Hody’s was owned by Sidney Hoedemaker, founder of the original and very popular Pig ‘n Whistle and Melody Lane chains. This link to see a print of the exterior might still work.
Holly Heights Polo and Hunt Club
Private country club with two polo fields and stables for 200 horses was at Ventura Blvd. and Fulton Avenue in the 1920s and 30s.
Hollywood Country Club
Large club with stables was on the side of the mountain of Ventura Boulevard straddling where Coldwater Canyon Avenue now heads south.
Hollywood Studio Zoo
This small attraction where visitors could gawk at animals from the movies was at 15445 Ventura Boulevard during the 1920s and ’30s.
Hot Dog Show
The stand at Ventura and Coldwater was a Studio City favorite for many years, especially for kids who attended the nearby Harvard School. The private school’s coat of arms was painted on an inside wall.
Huntsinger turkey ranch
From 1945 until moving to Bouquet Canyon in 1952 under pressure from the growing suburbs, the large turkey ranch was off of Lassen Street west of Reseda Blvd. in Northridge.
Ice skating complex on Hayvenhurst Avenue in North Hills had two ice rinks and a roller hockey floor. It opened in the early 1990s, suffered damage in the 1994 earthquake, and finally closed for good in 2001. In place of the rinks is a new headquarters for Munchkin baby products.
The steakhouse had been at 11915 Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, in the 1960s for sure. The address is now the Wine Bistro.
This barn at 2500 Victory Blvd. in Burbank was the site of Thursday night boxing matches from 1931 into the late 1940s. It was on the farm of Jim Jeffries, the former heavyweight boxing champ. After his death the barn was dismantled and moved to the Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park in Orange County. Photographs at WesClark.com.
June Ellen Donuts
This chain had several stores around the Valley, but the one at the south end of Van Nuys Boulevard was the most prominent. When cruising the boulevard was at its peak in the 1960s and 70s, the usual turnaround strategy was to loop through the parking lof of June Ellen’s and head back north.
This station at AM 1260 began airing Valley-oriented programming in 1947 from a studio in Mission Hills.
Many readers ask about these small, permanent carnival rides located all over the Valley—or send in their fond memories. I can’t confirm most of the locations, but readers of The Valley Observed recall them here: Ventura Boulevard near Laurel Canyon, Sepulveda Blvd. between Parthenia and Rayen streets, Sepulveda near San Fernando Mission Blvd., Topanga Canyon Blvd. near the Ventura Freeway, Woodman Avenue between Nordhoff and Montague streets, Van Nuys Blvd. between Parthenia and Nordhoff. Any others?
King’s Arms/Queen’s Arms
These sister dinner houses owned by the Skoby family were mainstays of the Valley dining scene in the 1950s and 60s. The King’s Arms was on Riverside Drive in Toluca Lake, the Queen’s Arms in Encino on Ventura Boulevard.
Small private swimming pond in old quarry near Vineland Avenue and Victory Blvd. in the 1940s.
The swimming resort and getaway was popular in the 1920s and ’30s. Roy L. Glover’s establishment was on 500 acres of live oak, grasslands and hills at the west end of Chatsworth Reservoir. Big crowds gathered for Fourth of July bronco-riding and barbecues, and for Easter egg hunts. At Christmas, Glover gave away free holly and mistletoe gathered on the ranch. In 1929, the Times described Lakeside Park as “one of the prettiest scenic sections” in the Los Angeles area and recommended that visitors drive north on Van Nuys Boulevard to Saticoy Street, then head straight west to the Simi Hills and watch for signs. When the Lakeside Riding Academy began that year, Glover opened miles of horse trails to the public. He also deeded the historic San Fernando Mission lime kilns on his ranch to the Native Sons of the Golden West, and provided some of the right-of-way for Valley Circle Drive.
The lake for boating and fishing was dredged in Sunland at the turn of the 20th century, near where Sunland Park is now. It was often used as a movie location.
For perhaps a thousand years, the giant coast live oak towered. Louise Avenue in Encino was paved around the huge tree, dedicated as a state cultural monument in 1963. After an El Niño storm on February 7, 1998, felled the behemoth, admirers came to gawk at the limbs while city crews sought equipment stout enough to penetrate the trunk. Fans who had nursed the tree through infections, car crashes and numerous storms carried souvenir branches as they left the scene wiping away tears. The L.A. Times headline the next day captured the sentiment: “If a Tree Falls in the Valley, We All Hear It.” See Also William Campbell’s tribute in words and photos.
La Reina theatre
The art deco Sherman Oaks movie house, opened in 1938, was designed by famed cinema architect S. Charles Lee. A technical innovation — adding acoustic panels and plaster to the rear wall to minimize sound distortion — made the La Reina noteworthy. It was renovated in 1988 into shops. Lee designed many of Los Angeles’ most memorable theatres, and in the Valley did the Reseda (1948), the Burbank (1948), the Encino (1939), the Rivoli (1939), the Valley (1938) and the Tujunga (1937).
Jesse Lasky’s movie ranch was where Cecil B. DeMille shot many of his early films. A busy spot in old Valleywood, it was along the river near where the Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills Memorial Park is located.
Lockheed moved to Burbank in 1928 from Hollywood and became the Valley’s biggest private employer, with its own airport at the Five Corners area of Burbank. In the 1930s Lockheed moved to United Airport (today’s Burbank Airport) and in 1940 renamed it Lockheed Air Terminal. The defense giant’s secret Skunk Works and many hangars turned out the P-38, the Electra, the Constellation, the U-2 spy plane and the first stealth aircraft. Lockheed left Burbank entirely in the 1990s.
Leon’s Steak House
This combo steak house-coffee shop at the northeast corner of Victory and Vineland in North Hollywood closed in 2003. It was torn down for a drugstore. Piano bar legend Buddy Worth played on Tuesday nights for years. Photo of the neon sign at Roadsidepeek.com.
Maclay College of Theology
The Valley’s first institution of higher learning opened in San Fernando in 1885, a Methodist school named for its founder, Charles Maclay. The school, which provided pastors to Methodist churches in the Valley, left its first home to move into the University of Southern California in 1900. In 1957, the school went independent as the Claremont Theological School.
The farms and dairy operation were a fixture on Wentworth Avenue in the Arleta and Pacoima area until 1971, when the final 20 acres were rezoned for condominiums.
The thoroughbred breeding ranch of Zeppo Marx and Barbara Stanwyck was along Reseda Blvd. and Devonshire Street. A Paul Williams-designed house that was Stanwyck’s, and later belonged to actor Jack Oakie, remains on Devonshire and is currently under the control of the University of Southern California.
The school opened in Hollywood to serve child actors and performers, and moved in 1949 to a house at 4562 Van Nuys Boulevard. It moved in 1951 to the former home of cowboy film star Buck Jones at the southeast corner of Magnolia Boulevard and Hazeltine Street. The school closed in the 1960s. A website on the history of the school and the Buck Jones home has more info.
McKinley Home for Boys
The grounds of the facility for boys from broken homes was at 13840 Riverside Dr. on land where Sherman Oaks Fashion Square is now located.
This unusual amusement was at 3300 Cahuenga Boulevard, on the Valley side of Cahuenga Pass—the Times usually described it as on Ventura Boulevard. Operated by Adolph Weiss, Monkey Island opened December 9, 1938. A large herd of monkeys, numbering in the hundreds, roamed over an “island” about 150 feet long, with a 40-foot plastic mountain, surrounded by moats and covered with netting. There were palm trees, swings and billy oats for the monkeys to amuse themselves, and waterfalls where they could keep cool. Visitors paid to come in and watch the monkeys and feed them peanuts and vegetables. When the moats were drained in August, 1940, about 100 monkeys fled. Weiss calmly told police “they’ll be back,” and most apparently did return at feeding time. Escapes were common. In The Valley Observed, filmmaker Warren Miller remembers it as a tacky sort of place. When Monkey Island closed is unknown.
Panorama City’s best-known Chinese restaurant in the 1960s and 70s was run by the family of Korean American actor Philip Ahn, who often played a Japanese in films about World War II. The Moongate served Cantonese cuisine with tropical drinks. Go here for more on Philip Ahn.
The giant hardware store at Sherman Way and White Oak Avenue burned to the ground in early December of 1966.
Newhall Auto Tunnel
This landmark in Newhall Pass was opened in 1910 to link the Valley with the Santa Clarita Valley communities of Newhall, Saugus and beyond.
Nike missile sites
From the mid-1950s into the ’60s, Nike and Hercules missiles protected the Valley and its many defense plants from attack. Four sites could be easily observed. In the Santa Susana Mountains, a missile battery designated as LA88 could be seen in upper Browns Canyon from 1956 to 1965, and its command center was visible on Oat Mountain. A second battery — with live missiles right amid the suburbs — known as LA96 operated at 15990 Victory Boulevard in Van Nuys from 1957 to 1971. Its observation post was in the Santa Monica Mountains above Tarzana, along Mulholland Drive on San Vicente Mountain. Decommissioned buildings or remnants remain at each site.
The big Northridge breeding ranch for thoroughbred horses sprawled west and north from the intersection of Reseda Boulevard and Lassen Street, with its entry at 10127 Reseda Blvd.
Northridge grammar school
The multi-story elementary school was on the southeast corner of Nordhoff St. and Reseda Blvd. until it closed in 1964.
This annual equestrian parade was held in summer on Reseda Boulevard in the heart of Northridge. Movie cowboy Montie Montana, the longtime honorary mayor of Northridge, was a frequent rider at the head of the parade.
The clothing shop of Nudie Cohn at 5015 Lankershim Blvd. was a show business and country music landmark. Nudie’s dressed the movie cowboys like Roy Rogers and Gene Autry and rock stars such as Elvis Presley and Ritchie Valens. Cohn died in 1984.
Otto’s Pink Pig
Extra-thick steaks, seafood and a special dessert — The Pink Pig Famous Delicado — helped to make this dark eatery at 4954 Van Nuys Boulevard a landmark for first dates and families. The long menu assured customers of “Italian spaghetti” and a money-back guarantee on mixed drinks.
The West Coast center of country music was at 6907 Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood until 1995. Ten years earlier, the funeral procession for the late owner Tommy Thomas extended for a mile and a half as it cruised past the club. Country legends Buck Owens, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson and many others played at the Palomino.
Park Moderne was envisioned as an artist colony in the hills above Calabasas. It opened in 1927 with cabins and cottages and ambitious plans for a full-fledged community. The Depression dashed those plans. Remnants remain on Bluebird Drive and Blackbird Way.
Peppertree Three Cinemas
This early multiplex at 10155 Reseda Boulevard just south of Devonshire Street in Northridge opened in 1973 and had by some accounts the best popcorn in the Valley. The Livingston family sold the theaters in 1987; they were expanded to five screens (Five Star Cinema) and reportedly closed in 2001.
The first scheduled air service out of the Valley flew from Grand Central Air Terminal to San Diego beginning in 1929, and later added San Francisco and other destinations. The firm was also known as the Pickwick Stage Company.
One of the last remaining passenger stations from the Pacific Electric Red Car line was at 16710 Sherman Way until it burned down in 1990.
Pine needle ski slope
For one season in 1939 — summer — skiing was the rage at Universal City. Joseph “Sepp” Benedikter, an Austrian ski champion, moved to Hollywood to coach stars like Henry Fonda and Gary Cooper on a slope coated with pine needles. People came in bathing suits and shorts to ski on the hill where Universal City’s hotels are today. After one summer, Benedikter moved on to Sun Valley, Idaho, though he later settled in Tarzana and ran a contracting business.
Pink Lady of Malibu Canyon
On the morning of October 29, 1966, commuters in Malibu Canyon were shocked by a vision that seemed to appear overnight on a shear rock face. Cavorting on the cliff was a 60-foot-high, brilliant-pink figure of a joyfully nude maiden, clutching flowers. The mysterious Pink Lady became a national media sensation. Crowds came to gawk and to wonder who painted her—and how. Throngs grew as the mystery deepened. County officials declared the Pink Lady a traffic hazard and attempted to remove her, but high-pressure water sprays only made her gleam more brightly. Paint remover didn’t work. On the ground, her admirers became protective, heckling the county crews and signing petitions that called efforts to erase the Pink Lady “prudish, inartistic, inhuman and apathetic.”
When the creator stepped forward, shock reigned again. Lynne Seemayer, a 31-year-old artist and mother who lived in Northridge, had spent nights for several months hanging from ropes in the dark drawing the outline. In one marathon session, she applied the paint then went home to make breakfast for her kids. Acclaim and proposals of marriage rolled in, plus offers to join nudist groups. She also got hate mail and a bill from the county. People read all kinds of meaning into the Pink Lady, but Seemayer explained, “I did it simply as an art piece, and that was all.” Fourteen gallons of drab gray paint ended the Pink Lady’s short life—although for a decade afterward a faint outline could be glimpsed over the tunnel mouth.
Name through much of the 20th century for 1,100 acres in the vicinity of Bell Canyon that was formerly Rancho El Escorpion, and later was known as Cloverland Ranch. Today it is part of West Hills. George E. Platt was president of Los Angeles Creamery Co.
Pop’s Willow Lake
Popular with generations of Valley families, the boating and swimming resort with a dance hall and cafe was along Big Tujunga Wash, upstream from today’s Hansen Dam. The lake was opened in 1931 by James A. (Pop) Gautier. It washed away in the 1938 flood that devastated the Valley but was rebuilt in time for a young Marilyn Monroe (then Norma Jeane Baker of Van Nuys High School) to spend wartime dates there with her first husband, Jim Dougherty.
Prisoner of War camp
During World War II, a compound for holding German, Italian and Japanese POWs was located along the L.A. River in Griffith Park where the Traveltown Museum is today. Before the war Camp Griffith Park was at times a Civilian Conservation Corps facility, a boy’s camp and a drunk farm for Los Angeles city inmates.
Restaurant was at 16065 Ventura Boulevard in Encino.
Rancho Milling Co.
Major San Fernando feed mill was at 1703 Truman Street until closing in 1959.
Sylmar ranch of G. Henry Stetson, of the Stetson hat family, was reputed to have the largest private swimming pool in the country. Most of the 285 acres were sold in 1958 to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Part of the land today features a city-run riding ring.
The Red Barn
Located at the corner where Parthenia Street begins in Panorama City, the restaurant that was at 8701 Van Nuys Boulevard is remembered by its longtime fans for the cheese sauce, kitschy decor and generous helpings of American food.
Pacific Electric Red Cars connected the fledgling Valley towns to Los Angeles in 1912, making it possible to live on a ranch and still reach the city. Routes ran from North Hollywood to Canoga Park and San Fernando. The last Red Car trolley left the Valley in 1952.
Reindeer of Panorama City
Panorama City’s flagship shopping center became known after 1950 for the reindeer that were put on display each Christmas, including a youngster designated as “Rudolph.” For many families, it became an annual ritual to wait in long lines to see reindeer and put the kiddies on Santa’s lap. The reindeer came from the herd of Fritz B. Burns, the developer of Panorama City. He began his herd with 26 deer from Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Calif. but by 1967 he had 478 head, the largest private herd in the U.S. The deer also appeared at other Burns developments around Los Angeles.
RKO studio ranch
The ranch in Encino north of Burbank Boulevard and east of Louise Avenue was the site of filming for many pictures, among them It’s a Wonderful Life and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Its 110 acres featured a large Paris set, mock streets, airplane hangars and pastures kept in check by a herd of sheep. The ranch closed in 1953.
Rodger Young Village & Basilone Homes
This makeshift community of Quonset huts was erected as low-rent housing for returning World War II veterans in Griffith Park. The site is now the Greater L.A. Zoo and its parking lot. Another housing community, the Basilone Homes, was in converted barracks on Glenoaks Blvd. in Pacoima.
Roger Jessup Dairy
Roger Jessup opened a dairy farm in on San Fernando Road in Glendale in the 1920s and later had a prominent operation in Pacoima. A former Los Angeles County Supervisor, the county park in Pacoima is named for him.
The North Hollywood roller rink with a wooden floor was on Hart Street off Lankershim.
Italian restaurant of ill repute was at 13359 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks. Mobster Mickey Cohen was present at the gangland execution of Jack (The Enforcer) Whalen in 1959. See Lore for more.
Runnymede poultry colonies
These egg farms were so large in the 1920s and ’30s they showed on maps as distinct settlements. They straddled Reseda Boulevard north and south of the Reseda town center.
San Fernando raceway & airport
Stalwarts of the Southern California hotrod scene of the 1950s and 60s — and fans such as Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys — competed at this drag strip at Glenoaks Blvd. and Arroyo Avenue. The strip was on the northwest side of San Fernando Airport, which itself opened in 1950 on Dronfield Avenue.
San Fernando Valley Veteran’s Hospital
The hospital at the top of Sayre Street in Sylmar was dedicated in 1926 and stood until the earthquake on Feb. 9, 1971, when it collapsed. The site is now a tree-shaded park with a view of Pacoima Canyon and a plaque memorializing the quake’s 65 dead.
Motorcycle gang was the Valley’s homegrown counterpart to the Hell’s Angels from 1960 until merging with the Angels in 1978.
Schlitz opened its state-of-the-art 35-acre brewery at 7321 Woodman Avenue in Van Nuys in 1954.
Schramm’s ice rink
From 1959 until at least 1961 it participated in ice hockey leagues with other Valley rinks. Schramm’s shared the address of the Valley Garden Arena on Vineland in North Hollywood.
George Spahn’s rental stables and movie sets at 12000 Santa Susana Pass Road became infamous as the squatting ground for Charles Manson and his “family” of mostly young women, among them Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, later convicted of trying to shoot President Gerald Ford. It was from Spahn Ranch that a car load of Manson followers left on August 8, 1969 to commit the murders of actress Sharon Tate and four others in Benedict Canyon. Spahn was a wrangler and outfitter for the movies. The ranch burned down in 1970.
Early in the 20th century, Sylmar was covered in a blanket of olive trees and Sylmar-brand olives were sold everywhere. Olives from the area were also sold under the San Fernando Valley brand. Remnant orchards and packing sheds remain in some areas of Sylmar.
Tail o’ the Cock
Another landmark dinner house of the 1950s and 60s that lasted until the 1980s on Ventura Blvd. west of Coldwater Canyon Ave. in Sherman Oaks. Next door was the hog dog stand Tail o’ the Pup, which still exists over the hill on San Vicente Boulevard near the Beverly Center shopping mall.
Tailwaggers Guide Dog Institute
This guide-dog charity opened in 1939 at 15499 Ventura Blvd. Actress Bette Davis was president of the board. Members included Bing Crosby, Howard Hughes, Basil Rathbone and studio boss Samuel Goldwyn.
Informal name given to meadows and gullies at the northern end of Tampa Avenue in Porter Ranch, a popular spot for teenage carousing in the 1960s and ’70s. The area is now largely built on, although the name is still used by some mountain bikers who ride trails in the area.
Just east of Reseda Boulevard at Tarzana Drive, the knoll served as a local landmark. On top of the hill Gen. Harrison Gray Otis, owner of the L.A. Times, built a hacienda he called Mil Flores. On the hill he planted a grove of trees from several continents. In 1919 the 550 acres were sold to Edgar Rice Burroughs, who named the spread Tarzana Ranch. Burroughs built the Valley’s first swimming pool and helped found El Caballero Country Club. Cedar Hills Nursery was located on the hill for many years. In the 1994 Northridge earthquake, a sensor mounted on the hill recorded the greatest ground shaking ever detected. Bulldozers finally cut down a large swath of the knoll in 2001 for a new housing tract.
A Texaco filling station under an airplane bearing the lettering Royal Albatross was at 12000 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City in the 1940s.
The Toluca Lake version of the longtime Hollywood landmark was at 10123 Riverside Drive. Repeat customers loved the hot rolls and their customer care.
Twin Lakes Park was a boating and fishing resort in the foothills of the Santa Susana Mountains, north of Chatsworth. In the 1920s and 30s, there were a pair of lakes with Mayan-themed lodges and home lots for sale. Remnants of the dams can still be found in the arroyos around the community of Twin Lakes, north of the Simi Valley Freeway between Topanga Canyon Boulevard and Canoga Avenue.
Valley Garden Arena
The 2,000-seat boxing and wrestling venue opened in 1949 at 7111 Vineland Avenue. Sometimes called Valley Gardens, it was remodeled in 1964 and taken over by boxing promoter George Parnassus. It also was used for boat shows, community gatherings and Roller Derby matches of the Los Angeles Braves.
Valley Ice Skating Center
The Tarzana ice rink was at 18361 Ventura Boulevard.
Valley Market Town
Shopping center at 6127 Sepulveda Blvd. near Oxnard Street was a popular spot for postwar families after it opened in 1947. The center offered free baby sitting and dog kennels and featured the Sepulveda Drive-in Theater. By 1954 the complex had been renamed Mr. Carter’s Market Place, after businessman Victor M. Carter.
Valley Music Theater
The theater at 20600 Ventura Boulevard was supposed to be the first local performing arts hall with serious ambitions. Designed as theater in the round, it was built by pouring a concrete dome over a dirt mound, then excavating away the soil. Bob Hope and other local celebrities backed the venture, which opened July 6, 1964, with a gala premiere of The Sound of Music. When legit theater didn’t catch on, rock music was tried. On February 22, 1967, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Doors put on a memorable show. Boxing matches were tried, but in 1980 the theater became a Jehovah’s Witness assembly hall. In 2004 the church sold to a developer who hopes to build condos and retail on the site.
Newspaper covered the Valley out of North Hollywood from 1946 to about 1964, some of that time as a daily. Its photograph archive is held in the collection of the Los Angeles Public Library.
Valley Visual Church
In the 1950s, churches could not open fast enough to meet demand. The Visual Church met in an Encino movie theater at 16342 Ventura Blvd. Almost the entire service, including sermon, was presented on film. The Rev. Dorland P. Dryer would address the congregation between films from a pulpit at the side of the screen.
Van Nuys Air National Guard
At the outbreak of World War II, Metropolitan Field on Woodley Avenue was rechristened as Van Nuys Army Airfield. Among the units stationed there was the 115th Observation Squadron, a National Guard unit that moved from the airfield at Griffith Park. After the war, the base became Van Nuys Airport and the air national guard function moved to quarters on Balboa Boulevard. The 146th Tactical Fighter Wing flew F-86A Sabre jets until noise complaints from the new suburbs helped push them out in 1960. During the Vietnam War, heavy C-97 Stratofreighters flew missions to Asia from Van Nuys. The unit was renamed the 146th Tactical Airlift Wing and in 1990 completed a move to Channel Islands Air National Guard Station in Ventura County. The Van Nuys base is now being torn down.
Van Nuys Choo Choo
Many baby boom kids celebrated birthdays at 6324 Van Nuys Boulevard, their burgers and milkshakes delivered on a miniature train. The restaurant closed in 1962, according to an auction notice in the L.A. Times.
Vega’s plant opened on 30 acres adjacent to Lockheed in Burbank in 1941 and merged into the giant two years later.
School for girls named for Mother Cabrini, the saint of immigrants who worked and lived on the land in the early 1900s, was on Glenoaks Blvd. on the border between Burbank and Sun Valley. After the school closed in 1970 the site was a temporary campus of the California Institute of the Arts and now houses Woodbury University.
Josef von Sternberg home
Designed in 1935, the house at 10000 Tampa Avenue was considered one of the finest works of the modernist architect Richard Neutra. The home, built for film director Josef von Sternberg, was constructed of glass and steel and included a moat. It was later lived in by the writer Ayn Rand. The home was torn down in 1972.
Walnut growers warehouse
The home of the San Fernando Valley Walnut Growers association from 1930 into the postwar era was at 18160 Parthenia St., currently a truck rental firm next to Northridge Skateland.
Warner Bros. movie ranch
Warner Brothers began buying up land in the Calabasas area in 1936 and amassed 2,800 acres. This was the studio’s location ranch where films such as National Velvet were shot. The studio sold the land in 1959, and part of it became the Warner Center area of Woodland Hills.
Poultry-raising colony founded in 1922 by Charles Weeks is no longer around, but its residents established the community of Winnetka, between Reseda and Canoga Park.
White Front stores
They had a little of everything. Three in the Valley were at Sherman Way and Woodley, on Roscoe Boulevard near Canoga, and at the corner of Osborne and Laurel Canyon in Pacoima.
The former home of Hobart J. Whitley, one of the founders of Van Nuys, and later occupied by the Praisewater Funeral Home, was at 5849 Van Nuys Blvd.
Zelzah passenger depot
The Southern Pacific station for Zelzah, later North Los Angeles and later still Northridge, was along the tracks at the southeast corner of Parthenia St. and Reseda Blvd. It was razed in 1961.
Sometimes called Zululand, this open-air stand with an African jungle theme advertised as “half-mile beyond Universal City on Ventura Boulevard.” Proprietor Raymond McKee dubbed himself the Zulu Chief and waiters in blackface served squab and fried chicken under rustling palms. Open until 2 a.m., the Zulu Hut was something of a roadhouse sensation in the 1920s.