Quotes and quips

Through the years, people have had a lot to say about the San Fernando Valley. These are some selections from the decades of remarks, jibes, jokes and praises.

They like it

“When I think of growing up in the Valley during the 1930s, I remember solitude: the lorn sound of a train whistle disrupting the country stillness, the howl of a coyote, the solitary jackrabbit darting across my path and loping ahead as I biked to school over bumpy dirt roads.”

Catherine Mulholland in California Childhood, 1988.

“Rosa’s place was once a tortilla bakery that moved to Van Nuys Boulevard…Rosa served the men on long wooden tables pushed against the wall where they sat hunched over, the steam from the pozolewarming their worn, tired faces…”

Mary Helen Ponce, Taking Control, 1987.

“My parents finally found what they were looking for in the San Fernando Valley: 1034 Evergreen in Burbank. The Concord grape farms were only a couple of blocks away. Our own backyard, once farmland too, had asparagus that grew wild by the bushel.”

Debbie Reynolds in Debbie, My Life, 1988.

“Around the curve the whole Valley spread out before me. A thousand white houses built up and down the hills, ten thousand lighted windows and the stars hanging down over them politely…”

Raymond Chandler, The High Window, 1942.

“In a few years San Fernando will be adorned with groves and orchards. It will become the site of a resort of seekers after health.”

Benjamin C. Truman in Semi-Tropical California, 1874.

“Even here the San Fernando Valley looks fertile, yet you could take a patch in the middle of 150,000 acres, where it does not touch the hills, where there would be no water for over half the year.”

William H. Brewer, Up and Down California 1860-1864.

“We drew up in martial array before the hospitable castle of Don Vicente de la Osa, the baronial proprietor of the Rancho del Encino, who cordially invited us to dismount, stake our jaded mustangs and refresh the inner man.”

Major Horace Bell, Reminiscences of a Ranger, republished in 1927.

“San Fernando Valley became as renowned as the Valley of the Nile.”

Frank Keffer, editor of The Valley News, in a 1930s book

“We build a city a month out here.”

W.P. Whitsett, in 1951

“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 million inhabitants. San Fernando Valley eagerly waits the residential development which is its natural right.”

Charles Wood, city hall speech in 1930

“America’s most spectacular residential area.”

Holiday magazine, 1951

“The dizzy, ubiquitious mixture of Fifth Avenue and Main Street…Its majesty and its cloudless skies, its sun and its air, its capering squirrels, its four-lane pavements, its avenue of dining rooms and its collarless comfort.”

Coronet magazine, 1951

“Clark and I have fallen in love with the Valley. This is our home, and we’re here to stay.”

Carole Lombard, wife of Clark Gable, in 1942

“Bring us your listings — We need acre and half-acre ranches!”

Reseda real estate broker ad in 1941

“Thousands of us commute to town to earn our living and then hurry back to the Valley to enjoy the sort of living we think makes the trip worth while.”

Times columnist Bill Henry in 1952

“The invasion of San Fernando Valley is now on! Establish yourself a beachhead. Ranches for sale are as scarce as Germans in Rome.”

Real estate pitch during World War II

“A major spawning place for what is now universally recognized as the Southern California way of life.”

Art Seidenbaum

“It took God millions of years to get Tarzana and me together.”

Edgar Rice Burroughs

“The whole valley has the well kept appearance of a yard. Weeds are hard to find. Everywhere carefully cultivated fields, and small bungalows with lawns, flowers and shrubs emphasize the appearance of prosperity.”

Gladys Brandt, 1928 master’s thesis at University of Chicago

“Everywhere in this broad, flat valley are farms, orchards, gardens and typical California homes set amid gardens…or clinging to the hillsides or overlooking several golf courses. The air is deep with the aroma of growing things and of budding flowers, and in the early fall the scent of ripened fruits and grains permeates the valley.”

The Romantic Southland of California, 1928 driving guide

They like it not so much

“If there is a river within 1000 miles of Riverside Drive, I never saw it. It’s like everything else out here: Endless scorched boulevards, lined with one-story stores, shops, bowling alleys, skating rinks, tacos drive-ins, all of them shaped not like rectangles but like trapezoids…”

Tom Wolfe, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby

“Putting me in a closed car and stewing me in the sun is not the right way to guarantee my safety. This development causes me bitter regret. I thought I could come here as a free man.”

Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, complaining about touring the Valley instead of Disneyland in 1959.

“Home of a hundred King Bear Auto Centers, a thousand Yoshinoya Beef Bowls, and ten thousand yard sales.”

Depth Takes a Holiday, Sandra Tsing Loh

“When we moved to the valley, I felt like I was being tossed into quicksand.”

Robert Redford in L.A. Times interview

“Ventura Boulevard was a two-lane road that cut through miles of undeveloped ranchland…She asked if I knew who F. Scott Fitzgerald was.”

Frances Kroll Ring, Against the Current: As I Remember F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1985

“It was so barren, so unfriendly and so unlike the rolling, green hills of our native Michigan. And the rocks. Always and always the rocks.’’

Mabel Hatch, early resident of Tujunga

“It’s hot, it’s barren, it’s vacuous. That may seem a little harsh, but ample parking is about all this vast suburban wasteland has to offer in the way of cultural enlightenment. The Valley’s threatened secession from L.A. would be a fiscal drain, but a net gain in other departments.”

Danny Feingold

“Indiscriminate scattering of subdivisions throughout the Valley has made it practically impossible to properly serve any part adequately with all public services.”

Charles Bennett, L.A. director of planning, in 1946

“The valley is neither as livable nor as efficient as it might have been. Los Angeles has not applied the planning principles and policies that were available, and that might have produced a far better result.”

City planning consultant, 1956

“I expect that ultimately the whole Valley will be urbanized.”

City planning director Milton Breivogel, in 1959

“It’s pretty quiet here after 9 o’clock.”

Mrs. Edward F. True of Glendale, in the L.A. Times 1961

“I can’t say that this is an exciting valley; it’s just a good, comfortable valley, that’s all.”

Ferdinand Mendenhall, editor of the Valley News, in 1981 interview

“You know what San Fernando Valley is? Cleveland with palm trees.”

Bob Hope, resident of Toluca Lake for sixty years

“The Valley is one million souls in search of a community. I can’t name a community of a million people anywhere that has no cultural center, no major sports center.”

Chamber of commerce official Pete Hustard in 1966

The Valley vs. L.A.

Noah Cross: “You see Mr. Gittes, either you bring the water to L.A. or you bring L.A. to the water.”
Jake Gittes: “How are you going to do that?”
Cross: “By incorporating the valley into the city. Simple as that.”

Chinatown, script by Robert Towne, 1974.

“Better than Los Angeles bread.”

Bakery ad in 1910

“A Valley Hatchery for Valley Folks.”

1930s slogan for Hewitt’s Hatchery

“She’s cool. He’s hot. She’s from the Valley. He’s not.”

Ad tagline for the film Valley Girl

“The stepchild of Los Angeles, the drudge that did the city’s work.”

Walter V. Woehlke in Sunset magazine, 1915

“I had no idea I even lived in Los Angeles.”

Charles Perry in L.A. Times Magazine, about the 1940s in Van Nuys.

“Although we no longer have the small town atmosphere, I’d rather live here than anywhere else in Los Angeles.”

Sherman Oaks woman in L.A. Times, 1961

“The same people who’ll drive from Santa Monica to Pasadena (twenty-five miles) without blinking find lunch in Reseda (sixteen miles) much too far.’’

Sandra Tsing Loh in Buzz magazine

“Detached from Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley would not become a great city, but a dormitory suburb pretending to have achieved urban status: a community whose signature cultural contribution, at least in terms of gross revenues, would be pornography.”

Historian Kevin Starr, L.A. Times op-ed piece, 1998

“Off-Ramp Acres … Asphalt-By-The-Sea … Smogadena … Pornadelphia … Newer Jersey … Unknown Actorville … Hellholia.”

Jay Leno’s joke names for a Valley city.

“The strange land over the hill.”

Los Angeles magazine

“L.A. is surrounded by valleys, but there’s only one Valley, and to everybody who lives on the other side of the hill from it, it’s a standing joke.”

Hush Money, novel by Peter Israel

Humor and Film Quips

“Roscoe – the very name conjures up images of having driven too far north.”

“Laugh Lines,” L.A. Times

“Maybe that’s how they make love in Tarzana.”

Two Days in the Valley

“If you had brain one in that huge melon on top of your neck, you’d be living the sweet life out in Southern California’s beautiful San Fernando Valley!’’

Bill Murray in Ghostbusters II

“We’re in the Valley, Vincent! Marcellus ain’t got no friendly places in the Valley.”

Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction

“All the vampires walkin’ through the valley/Move west down Ventura Boulevard….”

Tom Petty, “Free Fallin'”

“Don’t get 818 on me.”

Sara Polley to Katie Holmes in the film Go

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