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Julian Munoz
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Burbank Water and Power      818.238.3700           www,
AT&T(phone,DSL,Cable)        800.288.2020 
SoCal Gas                              800.427.2200 
Charter Cable                         888.438.2427 
Burbank School District           818.729.4400           

A Bit of History

Burbank was born during the Southern California land boom of the 1880's when thousands of Americans came West during the railroad rate war between Santa Fe and Southern Pacific.

The new-comers so completely Americanized their little town that Burbank's Indian & Spanish heritage survives today only in street signs.

Dr. David Burbank

  After raising sheep on his properties and occasionally selling off small parcels, Dr. Burbank sold his holdings in 1886 to Los Angeles land speculators who formed the Providencia Land, Water & Development Company. The new owners laid out a business district and divided surrounding properties into small farms and residential lots. They called the town Burbank and opened the tract for sale on May 1, 1887.

Burbank officially became the Valley's first independent City as voters approved incorporation on July 1, 1911. At the time the City had a population of 500.

The Movies

Movies were big news in Burbank as early as 1920's with production companies shooting many scenes on City streets. First National Pictures (later to become Warner Bros.) started building its huge lot in 1926. Columbia purchased 40 acres in 1934 for the Columbia Ranch with another 40 acres added in 1949. The City's position in the entertainment world continued to mount with the opening of Walt Disney Studios in 1939 and NBC's purchase of property in 1951 for its color studios. Burbank Film Storage Facility


Growing Pains

The stock market crash of 1929 brought the City's industrial growth & real estate development to an abrupt halt. The depression extended to the middle 1930's when increased employment at Lockheed Aircraft and construction work created by the Metropolitan Water District brought improvement to the economic situation. In 1940 Lockheed purchased the Union Air Terminal keeping it open for public use and for testing Lockheed built aircraft.

As World War II broke out Lockheed was building record numbers of famous Hudson bombers, the P-38 and PV-1 Venture. Lockheed subcontracted some assembly work to dozens of businesses that sprung up around the City.

A new era began for Burbank at mid-century. For the first time in a town's history a period of prosperity did not come to a halt at the end of a cycle of sudden growth. The wartime industrial boom had been followed by a postwar real estate boom, leaving few undeveloped areas in the Community. Burbank had just passed through a period of growing pains for a city

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The History of Burbank

(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.

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Burbank History
Burbank's Firsts

Burbank's First High School
Burbank Union High School

In 1908, Burbank high school students attended classes in Glendale until a bond issue was passed to raise money for Burbank´s own high school. While the school was being built, Burbank withdrew from the Glendale Union High School District and students used three unoccupied rooms in the elementary school.  Burbank Union High School opened on September 14, 1908 on San Fernando Boulevard between Cypress Avenue and Grinnell Drive. There were 42 pupils and a faculty consisting of a principal and one teacher.

Below is an aerial view of Burbank High School in 1947 looking south toward downtown.  Third Street is shown through the center of the photo at an angle.  Walnut Avenue is visible passing through the middle of the campus and continuing through to San Fernando Boulevard.


Burbank's First Bank
Burbank State Bank

Burbank's first bank, the Burbank State Bank, opened on April 1, 1908 on the corner of Olive Avenue and San Fernando Boulevard. H.A. Church and his son Ralph O. Church had purchased the 30-foot frontage on San Fernando Boulevard for $1,000. Capital Stock worth $25,000 was sold and the bank opened for business.  By the end of the first day, $30,000 had been deposited.


Burbank's First Hotel
Burbank Villa Hotel

The Burbank Villa Hotel, shown above shortly after its completion in 1887, was built by Dr. David Burbank and his son-in-law John W. Griffith to provide a place for visitors to stay when they came to Burbank looking for home sites and business locations.  The hotel was later renamed the Santa Rosa Hotel.


Burbank's First Funeral Home

Burbank's first funeral home was built in 1919 and owned by Andrew C. Fillbach.  The home, shown in above photo at an unknown date, was located at 152 E. Palm Avenue on the current site of the AMC movie theater complex.

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Burbank is a city built by People, Pride, and Progress. These three ingredients turned a tiny, rural town into the thriving community it is today.

In the beginning, the land occupied by the present City was part of two large Spanish land grants. The first was the vast Rancho San Rafael, granted to Don Jose Maria Verdugo by the Spanish government in 1798. Nearby Rancho La Providencia was created following Mexico's successful bid for independence from Spain in 1821.

The real history of the city, though, began when a New Hampshire dentist headed west with the thousands of Americans seeking new opportunities. This was at a time when Isaac Lankershim and Isacco Van  Nuys were changing the face of the San Fernando Valley.

Investing In The Future

Dr. David Burbank was active in Los Angeles real estate when he purchased portions of both ranchos in 1867. He combined them into a large ranch where he raised sheep, built a ranch house (on what was later Warner Bros. back lot lotoccasionally occasionally ocasionally sold off small plots of land.

Realizing that bringing in the railroad would increase the value of his ranch, Dr. Burbank sold the Southern Pacific Railroad a stretch of right-of-way for one dollar. The first train passed through Burbank on April 5, 1874.

During the rate war between the Santa Fe and Pacific railroads, low fares brought people streaming into California and Dr. Burbank once more seized the opportunity. In 1886, he sold his property to a group of land speculators for $250,000 and the Providencia Land, Water and Development Company was formed.

The speculators laid out a business district, started construction on a "brick block buildingbuilding which still stands on the corner of San Fernando Blvd. and Olive Avenue, and subdivided the property into small farms and residential lots. They opened the tract for sale on May 1, 1887, and the town of Burbank was born.

The population of the town was 500 when the voters approved incorporation in incorporation. That same year, civic boosters began a campaign to have the Pacific Electric Streetcar line extended from Glendale into Burbank. The citizens of Burbank had to put up a $48,000 subsidy to get the reluctant P.E. officials to agree. The first Red Car rolled into Burbank on September 6, 1911.

the thr the to the fund raising fund raising was J.W.Fawkes, who had patented the first monorail car in the United Statesbuilt He built a prototype on his Burbank ranch, running a line between Lake and Flower streets. Fawkes called his invention "Aerial Swallow". City officials, however, called it "Fawkes' Fawkes'" and the proposed monorail system never materialized.

Burbank Continues To Grow

The following years brought marked progress in Burbank's development as a city. In 1917, civic leaders Ralph O. Church and Maurice Spazier convinced Walt Moreland to relocate his truck company by offering him a free site to build.

The $25,000 cost was raised to buy the Luttge farm at San Fernando Blvd. and Alameda Avenue and the Moerland Moreland Company Moreland Burbank's first major industry. For years afterward, the Moreland trucks travelled traveled highways traveled the world bearing the label "Made in Burbank".

The 1920's saw a period of growth and real estate development with the population increasing from 2,913 in 1920 to 16,622 in 1930.

Earl L. White knew the value of a connecting link from Burbank to the Cahuenga Pass. When he couldn't get help from the city,  he cleared the underbrush through Dark Canyon and graded the street. This link is now Barham Blvd. and Hollywood Way.

White developed the Magnolia Park area and by 1929, more that 3,500 homes had been built. The area had a shopping center at the corner of Hollywood Way and Magnolia Blvd., a bank, Burbank's first radio station, KELW, and Magnolia Park's own newspaper, The Tribune.

Movies and Airplanes Move to Burbank

Burbank's continued growth was tied into aviation and entertainment. Both industries came to Burbank because of its location and the available space.

Aviation in the mid-1920's was still in its infancy when the Lockheed Aircraft Company purchased a piece of Burbank farmland, near a place called "Turkey's Crossing", and built a plant for the production of its planes.

By the time the United States entered World War II, Lockheed had some 94,000 employees producing 19,000 planes. Burbank's prominence in the aviation field was evident during the War when Lockheed's Burbank-built planes helped win the Battle of Britain. The wartime effort of the aviation industry had pushed Burbank's population to 53,899 in 1943.

The motion picture business also moved to Burbank in the 1920's. First National Pictures bought up a 78-acre site on Olive Avenue near Dark Canyon. The company was soon taken over by another young company founded by four brothers by the name of Warner. On October 23, 1927, motion picture history was made when Warner Bros. released the first all-talking movie, The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolson.

Other companies soon followed. Columbia Pictures purchased property in Burbank as a ranch facility, using it primarily for outdoor shooting. Walt Disney's company, which had outgrown its Hollywood quarters, bought 51 acres in Burbank. Disney's million-dollar studio was completed in 1939 on Buena Vista Street.

The Changing Face of the City

A new City Hall was built by City employees and opened in 1943. Still standing as a local landmark,  the marble building has been named  to the National Register of Historic Buildings.

Burbank's boom didn't end with the war. A postwar realestate boom left real estate undeveloped areas in the community. A ten-year capital improvement program produced many new municipal facilities, most of which were completed when the city celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1961.

During the 1960s and 1970s, more and more of the Hollywood entertainment industry were relocating to Burbank. The National Broadcasting Company moved its network television headquarters to its new location at Olive and Alameda Avenues. By 1962, NBC's multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art complex was completed.

On June 28,1978, the airport was purchased from Lockheed through a tri-city authority. The newly named Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport is the largest privately owned municipal airport in the United States.

Burbank continues to look to the future with the same "can do" attitude of the early City pioneers. With the energy crisis of the 70s and drought conditions of the 80s and 90s, Burbank quickly responded with conservation programs to deal with the enviornmental issuesenvironmental The City has a nationally acclaimed recycling program and uses reclaimed water for landscape irrigation.

The 80's

The these last years of the 20th century, Burbank continues to see changes. In 1989, the Golden Mall was reopened and traffic flowed down San Fernando Blvd. after 20 years as an outdoor pedestrian mall. After years of effort, the City finally obtained a major retail shopping center on a 41-acre site bounded by the Golden State Freeway, Burbank Blvd., Third St., and Magnolia Blvd. The downtown area has been revitalized with a wide variety of restaurants and multi-screen movie theaters.

The City Council began cablecasting their meetings on public television in 1987. The use of public access television has expanded citizen participation with government by bringing televised Board meetings and special programming into the home via cable.

The 90's

When Lockheed announced in 1990 that it would be closing its Burbank operations, the City began effort to see that the 325 acres were recycled into new development projects.

In October 1992, two-forward thinking new facilities were opened. The Burbank Recycle Center moved to new 2-1/2 acre facility that can handle 5,000 tons of recyclables per month. The Regional Intermodal Transportation Center  (RITC) opened at 201 N. Front Street. Throughout the 90's it has been expanded and improved. In January 1998, the Police and Fire Departments moved in their new state-of-the-art Burbank Police-Fire Headquarters facility at 200 N. Third Street.

Today Burbank is a prominent media and entertainment-oriented city which prides itself on a high quality of life, combining 21st century technology with small-town feel. It is, indeed, a city of "people, pride, and progress".

Magnolia Park

Magnolia Park Business District is bordered from Verdugo Ave on the South, Chandler Blvd on the North, Clybourn fromthe West and Vicotry from the East. Businesses consist of an ecletic retail outlets of antique shops, theatre, services and restaraunts. Major destinations includes Portos Bakery,Tony's  Bella Vista Italian Restaraunt,  DYI Hardware, Good Earth Market, Handy Market, and Monte Carlo/Pinonochio's Italian deli. The surrounding community is mddle to upper middle income homes built from 1920 to 1950's with treee-lined streets. 

Magnolia Park Business District - Intersection of Magnolia and Hollywood Way



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