(Information from A Thumbnail Sketch of Burbank)
A large part of the area that we now know as Burbank was once a portion of the Rancho San Rafael, resulting from a land grant from the Spanish government to Jose Maria Verdugo in 1798.
The remaining southern portion of Burbank was contained in the 4600 acre Rancho La Providencia; another Mexican land grant. Historically, this area was the scene of a "military skirmish" which resulted in the unseating of the Spanish Governor of California, and his replacement by the Mexican leader Pio Pico.
Over time, the Verdugos were forced to sell a portion of their land, and in 1857, John R. Scott became the first American to hold land in the San Rafael portion of Burbank. Rancho La Providencia eventually was sold to Alexander Bell and David W. Alexander, members of the first City Council of Los Angeles.
In 1867, Dr. David Burbank, a dentist from Los Angeles, purchased over 4000 acres of the former Verdugo holding from Jonathon R. Scott, and another 4600 acres of the Rancho La Providencia and for several years operated a very successful sheep ranch. Later, in 1887, Dr. Burbank sold his land holdings to the Providencia Land, Water, and Development Company for a reported profit of $240,000. "Burbank" was officially named after the pioneer ranching dentist on May 1, 1887.
Dr. David Burbank, mid-1800's.
As time passed, the countryside surrounding the townsite was developed with vineyards, and crops of peaches, grapes, alfalfa, melons, and vegetables. During the early 1900’s, the community’s "chief claim to fame" was James J. Jeffries the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world. Jeffries resided on a 107-acre ranch, and the ranch house was located where what is now Buena Vista and Victory Boulevard.
James J. Jeffries, shown after winning the
heavyweight boxing championship in 1899.
Over the next several years the City continued to progress, approving several bonds which provided water and electric facilities, and in 1916 an additional 9.4 square miles were annexed into the City. A period of industrial growth, and real estate development followed, and the population grew from 2,913 in 1920 to 16,622 by 1930.
In 1926 a fifteen member Board of Freeholders was elected to draw up a City Charter. The Charter was later approved by the State Legislature, and became effective on January 13, 1927.
San Fernando Boulevard and Olive Avenue in 1927,
when the intersection was becoming the center of activity in Burbank.
The stock market crash and depression halted growth to the middle of the 1930’s. World War II had a tremendous impact on Burbank’s economy. Lockheed employed over 94,000 people who produced over 19,000 planes for the nations war effort.
Three inches of snow blanketed Burbank on January 10, 1949.
Shown here is the old City Hall, built in 1916
and located across Olive Avenue from the current City Hall.
Another important feature in the development of Burbank, was the motion picture industry. By 1950, one-fifth of all feature films made in the United States came out Burbank. Today, Burbank is the home to the major studios in both the film and television industry, such as Warner Brothers, Disney, and NBC. As a result, related industries such as film editing, music recording, etc. make up a large portion of Burbank’s industry. Based on the location of the industry, Burbank has been home to a number of Hollywood’s biggest stars, from Doris Day and Bob Hope to Ron Howard.
For more information on the History of Burbank, please contact the Burbank Historical Society at (818) 842-6333.
San Fernando Boulevard at Olive Avenue
looking north, circa 1911.