West Valley ~ Warner Center Chamber of Commerce
History of Woodland Hills
Little is known about the Chumash Indians, who were this community's earliest settlers. When the first white men rode in with the Portola Expedition in 1769 to explore the beautiful hills and valleys, they encountered the Indians and called the area the Valley of the Oaks.

It was in this area, now named Woodland Hills, that the treaty was signed to end the Mexican War. This cleared the way for California to be admitted to the union in 1850 as the 31st state.

Girard, circa 1954When Victor Girard Kleinberger first laid eyes on the rolling grasslands with pools of water, he called it the "dream city." A visionary and entrepreneur, he foresaw a large population and a thriving economy in the town he named Girard, as he later came to call himself.

Girard was an ambitious man who had a penchant for deceit. In 1922, Girard and Boulevard Land Company purchased 2,886 acres, which was subdivided into 6,000 lots. Girard sold thousands of small lots to families in a farming area where 80 acre parcels had more typically been sold.
To expedite land sales in his new town in 1923, Girard erected gates, a mosque tower, and a business district with rows of stones with false fronts to convey the impression of a flourishing economy. 

Later, in an attempt to hold off bankruptcy and his creditors, Girard attached liens to all the property he sold without informing the buyers! In spite of his unscrupulous methods, Girard believed in the town and the land, and his plan worked. His advertisements in the newspaper did, in fact, attract new residents and businesses, and a great deal of new construction was initiated. He beautified the area by importing and planting more than 120,000 eucalyptus, sycamore, fir, pine and pepper trees. Years later, as the trees grew, it was appropriate to change the town's name to Woodland Hills.

With the country in the throes of the Depression, Girard's " super community" crumbled. Despite the forlorn economic state of Woodland Hills, in which only 75 families remained, the town survived. Large family landholders moved in, including Harry Warner of Warner Brothers Pictures. During the thirties, the motion picture pioneer started amassing what was to become known as the Warner Ranch and eventually acquired 1,200 acres where he raised thoroughbred racing horses.  

In 1941, residents of the community banded together to improve the community's image and renamed it Woodland Hills. This was the origin of the Woodland Hills Chamber of Commerce. 
When Warner liquidated much of his real estate holdings in the 1980s, a number of large corporations bought and developed portions of the master planned business development that was to become known as Warner Center. 
With Warner Center still at the core of the business district, Woodland Hills enjoys a strong financial establishment, an upscale residential base, the finest health care, outstanding retail and restaurant facilities, excellent educational institutions, and recreational opportunities without equal - all in beautiful Southern California.
Woodland Hills At Night (1998)

History of Tarzana

History of Tarzana for Chamber, by Willard Simms

Wonder where the unusual name “Tarzana” comes from?  Well, it came directly from Tarzan, King of the Jungle, the immortal character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Burroughs took much of the money he made from his wildly successful series of Tarzan books (24 in all) and in 1919 bought a 550 acre section of land from L. A. Times founder and publisher General Harrison Gray Otis.  He then named his new holding Tarzana Ranch, after his own famous action hero.  The citizens of the community that sprung up around the ranch voted to adopt the name "Tarzana" when their town was incorporated in 1928.

In the late 1800’s General Otis had built a rustic country house on his San Fernando Valley property out of logs and stones.  He called this structure Coonskin Cabin, and it was primarily used for entertaining his male friends and as a hunting lodge.  There were no buildings of any kind within a mile of it until Edgar Rice Burroughs built his own house nearby in the 1920’s.  A one lane dirt road ran from Ventura Blvd. to the Otis Coonskin Cabin.  The road, still there today, is eight blocks long, and now called Otis Drive. 

In 1922, Charles L. Daniels purchased a 320 acre tract of land on Reseda Boulevard between the Southern Pacific railroad tracks and Ventura Boulevard, bordering Tarzana Ranch. Here he founded a town, Runnymede.  The Runnymede Poultry and Berry Association, a forerunner of the Tarzana Chamber of Commerce, was formed in 1923.  Adohr Dairy - home of the world’s largest pure-bred Guernsey herd at the time, adjoined the Burroughs property.  Merritt Huntley Adamson and his heiress wife, Rhoda Rindge Adamson, whose parents were the last owners of the vast Spanish land grant in Malibu, founded this state-of-the-art dairy called Adohr Farms; Adohr being Rhoda spelled backward.

Originally Tarzana was part of the San Fernando Mission, which was established in 1797 by Spanish settlers and missionaries. Modern day Tarzana is a vibrant community filled with businesses along Ventura Blvd, and charming residences along the North and South streets.  Tarzana contains two country clubs with golf courses - El Caballero Country Club and Braemar Country Club. There are also a number of gated communities, including Mulholland Park and Braemar Estates. Tarzana is well-known for its many restaurants, delicatessens, booksellers, and language training institutes. The street boundaries of Tarzana are Victory Blvd. to the North, Corbin Ave. to the West, Mulholland Drive to the South, and Lindley Ave. to the East.  South of the Boulevard Corbin dead ends at the Bothwell Ranch.  There, the boundaries becomes Bothwell Road to the West and Lindley Ave. to the East, both streets named after Lindley Bothwell, who once owned a large Tarzana orange grove that was later subdivided into luxury homes.

   More info, go to www.theatreofwill.org/press and click on King of the Jungle.

History of ResedaLiving along the Los Angeles River, the Native American Tongva tribe were the first inhabitants of the San Fernando Valley district known as Reseda. Following the departure of the Indians, Reseda became a farm town, called Marian, in 1912, named for the daughter of the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, Harrison Gray Otis. It was around 1920 that the community was renamed Reseda, after a North African dye plant which grows only in hot, dry climates, similar to that of the area. 

Reseda is considered one of the first actual suburbs in the San Fernando Valley, and was being sub-divided and developed as World War II veterans were making their way home. Orange groves gave way to housing tracts and by 1950, the population in the Valley had reached 400,000. In the 1980’s the area saw an influx of Latino immigrants. That, along with a natural decline in the Caucasian population as a result of aging and lowering birth rates and a decreasing level of income, resulted in the neighborhood changing over from a middle-class community and moving back towards the working class town it had previously been. 

A little known fact about the area is that the actual epicenter of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake was located in Reseda, near the intersection of Wilbur Avenue and Saticoy Street. Early reports had put the shaker in Northridge, but by the time tests determined the actually origin, the name had already stuck. 

Reseda has been both the location and filming place for a number of major motion pictures, including The Karate Kid, Boogie Nights and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. The last movie has some very famous chases scenes filmed along the channel of the Los Angeles River. Reseda is also mentioned in music, from Tom Petty’s song, “Free Fallin,” to Soul Coughing’s “Screenwriter’s Blues.” 

Reseda has it’s own park, which has a large duck pond. During the 50’s and 60’s, the pond used to have a boathouse where you could rent electric boats by the hour. The park also has lighted outdoor basketball and tennis courts, a lighted baseball diamond, a children’s play area, a community room, an outdoor, seasonal unheated pool, picnic tables and barbeque pits.


By Rose Goldwater, Historian

The community of Woodland Hills, with over 70,000 residents, is bounded by Victory Boulevard to the north, Corbin Avenue to the east, Mulholland Drive to the south, and the Los Angeles city limits to the west. The historical background of Woodland Hills rests in the story of Rancho El Escorpion. The rancho was first owned by three Indians and a Spaniard, title for most of it eventually passed to Miguel Leonis a Basque who came to the Valley in 1858. Within a short time after he arrived he married a widow whose father, Odon, had been one of the rancho's original owners.

Leonis soon acquired his neighbors' lands apparently by whatever means possible and by 1871 had become the sole owner of most of the property round about.

In l924 Victor Girard, a real estate developer, subdivided over 2,800 acres of the territory into 6,826 lots. For the next 17 years the settlement was known by the name of Girard. Girard planted trees by the thousands throughout the area. A country club was laid out in the hills, and trees on the golf course were waters by resident Malcolm Jones from water barrels lugged up the hills in horse carts. The depression proved disastrous to the ambitions of the Girard Real Estate Company. Lots became practically unsalable, and by 1931 the population of Girard was only 75 people.

The end of the thirties saw greater interest in development here and in 1941 a chamber of commerce was formed. It was at this time the name of Woodland Has adopted, and by 1950 the community had some 4,500 residents.

During the thirties Harry Warner, the motion picture pioneer started amassing what was to become known as the Warner Ranch and eventually acquired 1,200 acres where raised thoroughbred racing horses.

In the early 1980's acquisition of some 630 acres of Warner's vast ranch was acquired by Kaiser Aetner and assured the name's continued prominence into the area and is known as Warner Center.

Woodland Hills is also the home of Los Angeles Pierce College.This community college opened September 1947, and had its beginning as an agricultural school. While it continues to be known for its excellent agricultural and animal husbandry programs, Pierce's students can now take a wide range of academic and professional subjects there in a rural setting.

Education Committee 2014
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