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Van Nuys History

Our junk removing travels take us back and forth through the San Fernando Valley, and Van Nuys is at the heart of this Valley. We don’t often stop to think about what existed in these areas before but it’s sometimes worth it to do a little research into the history of a place we serve. That’s why we’re citing the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council’s website and their brief history of the city of Van Nuys, CA.

On February 22, 1911, Van Nuys got its start with an ad in the Los Angeles Times:  A free train ride was being offered to the “Van Nuys townsite,” for a free Washington’s Birthday barbecue, a patriotic speech about the birth of a town, and an auction of lots in an undeveloped part of the San Fernando Valley.

A train full of curious people came as the lots went up for bid, and a town was sold in an afternoon. The L.A. Times called the auction, “The beginning of a new empire and a new era in the Southland.”

Victory dirve in theater entrance Van Nuys, CA
Victory dirve in theater entrance Van Nuys, CA

The town’s namesake, Isaac Van Nuys, previously owned and ranched half of it in the open space south of what is now known as Roscoe Blvd. Among its buyers were a group of rich land speculators, who recognized that the Los Angeles aqueduct from the Owens Valley would provide unlimited water for the ranchers and farmers to come.

Isaac Van Nuys’ great ranch became the “Van Nuys townsite” and then simply, Van Nuys.  No landmark house, statue, or even a formal portrait of the land baron stands. The only thing he left was his name.

What happened to the town sold in an afternoon? People bought lots, put up their tents, and built their homes. Van Nuys merchants were among the first in the Valley. The (Valley General Store) still standing at Van Nuys and Sylvan was the first real building, and it also housed the first bank in the San Fernando Valley.

Van Nuys drive in movie theater
Van Nuys drive in movie theater

The first high school in the valley was located in Van Nuys, and many storefronts still stand today that date from the early 1900’s. There was farming, canning, and the old Union Ice Plant from the days when produce was sent by rail to downtown markets. The Union Ice Plant remains today, next to what is now the Orange Bus Line.

Van Nuys became the second center for City services with the building of the Van Nuys City Hall in 1932, a place for federal, state and city services as well as the county courts.

Van Nuys boasts one of America’s most famous streets

The idyllic Bing Crosby song “I’ll Make the San Fernando Valley My Home” was Number 4 on the “Hit Parade” as the soldiers went ashore on D-Day. After World War II, the sleepy farming town changed, as veterans “discovered” the San Fernando Valley. After the war effort shifted to civilian commerce in the late 40’s and early 50’s, airplane manufacturing boomed as commercial aviation became the new mode of travel. In l946 General Motors built its Chevrolet assembly plant in Van Nuys. Farmland and orchards were replaced by endless tract homes that signaled a shift in Van Nuys’ commercial and agricultural base.

Remember the movie “American Graffitti”?  The director, George Lucas, may claim it was Modesto—but anyone of a certain age “knows” it was Van Nuys Blvd, in the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s where a youth culture was defined by “Wednesday night cruising” to show off one’s “wheels”.

Van Nuys Blvd. Street Sign
Van Nuys Blvd. Street Sign

It’s still a vital town—that generates its own famous people—actors Natalie Wood and Robert Redford, Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, athletes like NFL legend Bob Waterfield and the Dodgers’ Don Drysdale, Johnny Parsons of “Indianapolis 500” fame, and many others.

Times change—but the 1911 orator at the Van Nuys auction, Colonel Horn, challenged the audience that the desert they saw could be a town, so the current occupants face the challenge to make the town a place that future generations are proud to call home.

We love Van Nuys; it’s one of our favorite SFV cities. It’s certainly grown over the years and to us that means more junk to be hauled away. If you’re in Van Nuys and need a great rubbish hauling team, give us a call!

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