• Filling up

    C. Frederick Wehba II, vice-chairman of the Bentley-Forbes real estate investment firm, blogs that the San Fernando Valley is nearing capacity. He basically agrees with a story in the Daily News (no longer online) that says the office and industrial markets are maxed out. If you think the Valley is too full, you might cringe at these long-ago quotes that gave plenty of warning about changes coming to the once-roomy basin. They’re found, with others, on the quips and quotes page: “We who live there eagerly await the great trek to San Fernando Valley, and we predict that not many years after the installation of rapid transit lines the Valley will contain one…

  • Studio City tales

    Meghan, who works behind the camera in Valleywood and blogs at Musings, is still getting used to seeing celebs in her neighborhood. Her recent run-in came at a farmers market. While at the Studio City market, I was walking around the stalls and i saw one with a table of spray bottles set up. The labels said “Begley’s Best” and had a picture of Ed Begley Jr on them. I wondered who the hell was selling this product and looked up to find Mr. Begley himself behind the table. I worked with him over the summer on a film, so it was really odd to see him in this “normal” person…

  • New in ‘Gone but not Forgotten’

    The Hot Dog Show at Coldwater and Ventura, June Ellen Donuts, the Roger Jessup and Manfull dairies and Murmak Hardware have been added to the honor roll of Valley landmarks that are no longer around. The list at Gone but not Forgotten goes from Adams Airport to the Zulu Hut and even includes entire vanished places on the map such as Girard and Fernangeles.In the Lang Oak entry, I’ve also added a link to William Campbell’s tribute in words and photos to the thousand-year-old Coast Live Oak that used to stand in the center of Louise Avenue, just south of Ventura Boulevard in Encino. He wrote the piece in 1992 for a Pierce College…

  • The Van Nuys Diet

    Over at 2,000 Days in the Valley. Also in the blogs: In the Oaks points to online short films about Sherman Oaks and North Hollywood. On the Valley Flickr group, a shot from behind at the original Bob’s Big Boy Burbank/Toluca Lake:

  • Smells like home

    Not to pick on Van Nuys, but a new blog called Los Angeles City Nerd says the community has a distinctive smell—well two, actually. What Van Nuys smells like is, well, hops. Anheuser-Busch Brewery on Roscoe gives a strong aroma that is the most distinctive in the region.(Did you also know that the largest buyer of water from the L.A. Department of Water & Power is Anheuser-Busch?) And since I brought up water, the other smell that defines Van Nuys is the water that comes out of the Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant. All that the Valley flushes gets treated and released to Lake Balboa, the Los Angeles Japanese Garden, &…

  • Old Van Nuys Air Guard base

    The blog Here in Van Nuys posted a series of evocative photos taken around the exterior of the decaying former Air National Guard base on the west side of Van Nuys Airport. Old hangars that used to be along Stagg Street are long gone; I don’t know what the plans are for the last post-war office buildings along Balboa or the two remaining hangars. A new headquarters for the Los Angeles Fire Department’s air fleet is being built (or may be done already) along the ramp over Bull Creek that connects the base’s old flight line to the airport taxiways.

  • Dutton’s will be missed

    Citybeat’s Steve Appleford pens an appreciation of Dutton’s, the North Hollywood bookstore that is closing come March after 45 years. Excerpts: Owner Dave Dutton and his wife, Judy, are simply moving on to their home on Washington State’s beautiful Puget Sound, and are quickly emptying the shelves with a 50-percent-off sale that should have the store closed before April.“Books and their readers are the most fascinating and the most interesting and, arguably, the most eccentric and sometimes exasperating group of individuals you can find,” says Dutton, 68. “I love to walk into the store and see two customers in a face-off in the theology section or the politics area”…. Dutton’s Books was…

  • 35 years ago today

    Clocks at Olive View hospital in Sylmar stopped at 6:01 am on Feb. 9, 1971. That’s when the Valley was shaken awake by a 6.6-magnitude earthquake that began under the mountains behind Sylmar. When the shaking stopped sixty seconds later, parts of that hospital and the San Fernando Valley Veterans Hospital (also in Sylmar) had fallen, the lower dam at Van Norman Reservoir threatened to fail and a visible ground rupture extended for twelve miles. Sixty-five people died, and the Valley had a new reputation to contend with. Media coverage of today’s anniversary is all over the map on both the magnitude and the number of deaths. I go with…

  • Return to Reseda Project

    Minnesota poet Randy Stern named his first published collection The Boy from Reseda, after his hometown. He plans to visit in April for the first time in ten years and blogs about his plans (other than seeing family and friends): As a regular patron of public transportation, now 31 years after my first ride on the RTD’s Victory Boulevard bus, I hope to check out Metro’s newest transportation project. To replace the old Southern Pacific freight rail line, the current transit system opened up a Bus Rapid Transit line that runs through Reseda from Warner Center connecting with the Red Line subway in North Hollywood. The Orange Line looks fantastic. Riding it should…

  • Supporting roles

    Movie makers have used the Valley as scenery since before D.W. Griffith filmed Birth of a Nation beside the Los Angeles River where Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills is now. (Sadly, there was a time when his Klan riders would have fit right in with adjacent Burbank.) Add a couple more movies to the list. The 40 Year Old Virginset most of its exterior scenes on Ventura Boulevard in Encino, giving some primo camera time to the Cuban restaurant Versailles. And the IMDB plot summary for Bewitched tells all you really need to know: “Out in California’s San Fernando Valley, Isabel is trying to reinvent herself. A naïve, good-natured witch, she is determined to disavow her supernatural powers…

  • A new look and new name

    America’s Suburb.com is now known as The Valley Observed. It’s now a blog too, and that makes it a cousin of the other website about Los Angeles that I publish, LA Observed. The two blogs are similar and yet distinct, like the Valley and the city themselves. Everything about Valley history and lore that used to be here is still here, it’s just a lot easier to find now. Switching all the old pages to blog entries means you can now search the site. There’s a handy search box at the top left of every page that will bring up every mention of, say, Canoga Park or Ritchie Valens or the…

  • 10 things he loves about the Valley

    The blogger at Travels West lists his ten favorites: 10. Ventura BLVD (most of it, at least)9. Better customer service, compared to almost any other business south of the Hollywood Hills or the Santa Monicas 8. Valleyites are shameless flirts who flirt with you and not your money 7. Hole-in the wall hobby shops 6. More relaxed pace — so what’s the rush? Sit a while; sit Rest is over there.

  • Rock show at Birmingham

    Ben L. Kaufman writes about the improbable show that many Valley kids remember from the football field at Birmingham High School on May 20, 1967: For a $3 ticket (which I still have) there was a concert featuring Jefferson Airplane, the Doors, Merry-Go-Round, Peanut Butter Conspiracy, Sunshine Co, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. My understanding at the time was that a student’s father was a promoter and the concert was to raise funds for the bleachers. It was a great concert with the groups all singing their current hits. I found the poster online. A few days before playing Birmingham High, the Jefferson Airplane performed at Fillmore Auditorium in San…

  • Cherie Currie observed

    In the 1980 film Foxes, Cherie Currie made her movie debut opposite Jodie Foster as a tough Valley teenager with a soft side who gets in trouble with drugs over the hill in the Hollywood club scene. In real life then, Currie was a punk rocker with The Runaways. Today, she uses a chainsaw and a blowtorch to shape logs into mermaids and other art pieces at a lot on Topanga Canyon Boulevard in Chatsworth. “I don’t miss being an actress,” she told the Daily News. “I’d much rather be doing this.” She also has a website called Chainsawchick.

  • Dutton’s Bookstore to close

    The friendly landmark on Laurel Canyon is shutting down. I posted this at LA Observed: The Dutton’s in North Hollywood is in the midst of a clearance sale and will be gone by mid-March, Davis Dutton tells Daily News columnist Dennis McCarthy. Davis and his wife Judy are moving to Washington state, where they will continue trading in rare books online. Dutton was a grad student traveling through Europe in 1961 when his parents, working at Paramount Studios, sent him a telegram saying, “Come home.” They had just bought a little liquor store on Laurel Canyon Boulevard they were turning into a bookstore.”For the first few weeks after we opened, people…

  • What happened to ‘History and Lore’?

    As part of the website’s redesign, all of the articles that used to appear on the History and Lore page of America’s Suburb.com have been reposted as separate entries. This makes it easier to add new pieces on Valley history and to find both the old and the new in one place. Everything here that fits in the history category can be searched from the search box located on the sidebar.

  • Big Daddy’s

    I have vague memories of enjoying a barbecued beef sandwich here after a LIttle League practice when I was probably eight years old. I’d like to hear a little about this place myself. Don’t get me started on how many hours I spent at that Winchell’s. I am interested to know if you have any information or pictures of “Big Daddy’s Hamburger Stand.” Name changed in the mid 60’s to “Big Ann’s” located at the corner of Woodley and Nordhoff. It is now Winchell’s. Across the street was a Signal Gas Station in the same time frame. Pictures and info would be great or could you steer me in the…

  • New pictures of Tarzana Ranch

    Descendants and fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs keep a close eye on the author’s former property south of Ventura in Tarzana—the community that Burroughs gave birth to and anointed with the name of his ranch. The ERBzine has a bunch of photographs online of the ranch as it looked in Burroughs’ day (in the 1920s and 30s) and its more recent appearance.

  • TV mystery solved?

    It has been suggested that the 1950s television program that aired from the host’s yard in Sherman Oaks—and used the theme from The Thin Man—was the Dude Martin show on Channel 11. Another writer offers some more detail: I read the question regarding a local daily TV show broadcast from a house in the Valley. In the mid 50s I used to visit my grandmother who lived on Tobias St in Sherman Oaks. Around the corner and a half block west on Valleyheart St was the home of Steve Martin (not the comedian) but a local TV personality and I think a one time country singer. I looked forward to…

  • Van Nuys is not Venice

    Star McCain found the website on Google—while looking for an ice-skating rink—and sends along an amusing story. A dear friend of mine was Mike Zele, who died a few years ago at age 107. He immigrated to the US from Romania around 1907, and after being turned down by the military when he tried to enlist at the beginning of WWI, he studied at an industrial school in New York and met up with Buffalo Bill. Living for several years with the Indians (Crow, I believe) on the reservation in Montana, Mike ran whiskey across the border in Montana during the Prohibition Era.When he came to California, a friend told…