CityDig: Mapping The San Fernando Valley in 1924


Copyrighted by Franklin P. Borgnis Los Angeles

The part of Los Angeles known simply as “the Valley” is shown here in 1924, before the housing booms and freeways changed the landscape radically. Many of the cities seen here were annexed by the city of Los Angeles after the completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913. The size of Los Angeles increased dramatically thanks to the many square miles of valley towns joining the big city. What was formerly an area where wheat fields abounded was now being groomed for real estate development while becoming irrigated and expanded agriculturally. The map gives a rudimentary glance at the topography, including the new water sources now flowing in the valley. The very important Southern Pacific Railway lines are visible as is the Pacific Electric streetcar tracks running along Sherman Way and up through the Cahuenga Pass from Hollywood. The streetcars and trains and a subdivision of what were once huge Spanish and Mexican ranchos were all part of the land speculation set off by the access to water from the Owens Valley. On this map parts of Mulholland Drive are still being constructed, as is the proposed Riverside Drive. Some of the old place names are prominent: Owensmouth (Canoga Park), Zelzah (North Los Angeles, then Northridge), Girard (Woodland Hills), Lankershim (North Hollywood), Cahuenga Park (Studio City), Sherman, and even West Van Nuys identify what were wide open spaces in the area.  While it was typical for banks to create fold up street maps, Security Trust and Savings Bank, which produced this one, was exceptional in building local history archives including books, pamphlets, maps, photographs and ephemera.

Los Angeles Public Library map librarian Glen Creason will share a map from the Central Library’s collection at CityThink each week. This is his first post for Los Angeles magazine.