Van Nuys: 1945.

Once again, I am posting this heart wrenching photograph of Van Nuys in 1945. The little town sits in a pristine valley surrounded by mountains, where orange groves still grew in abundance, and gangs….. were groups of kids on bicycles.

Am I the only one who believes that America was at some pinnacle in that year?

Which Van Nuys do YOU prefer: 1945 or 2008?

13 thoughts on “Van Nuys: 1945.

  1. This picture was taken when my parents’ generation was being born. This really is an idyllic shot, because it predates the return of US soldiers from WWII and the 2nd biggest baby boom of the 20th century [Gen Y’s the biggest].

    The people that bought the houses on those former orange groves produced U-2 spy plane, the Chevrolet Camaro, televised entertainment, helicopters, missiles, satellites and… even beer.

    Pictures like this are cool and ironic, but seriously, if you want cool irony–look at the pictures of Hollywood, BH and the Westside between ’25-45: those areas were covered in oil wells. “La Brea” means “The Tar.” “La Cienega” was a reference to the mosquito-laden swamps around West Hollywood.


  2. Sometimes I’ll walk around the hills of Pierce College and imagine what the Valley looked like back then – orange and lemon groves, horse and chicken ranches…

    My neighbor (an old timer) told me that where my house now stands was once a walnut grove, near a horse ranch – according to him – owned by Shirley Temple. Cool! I love hearing stuff like that.

    I do wish their were laws against over-building. Our once green valley gets more cement-covered and congested as time passes.


  3. No, you’re not the only one that thinks 1945 was a pinnacle for this country — I do, too. But then I remind myself about Jim Crow, polio, culturally acceptable domestic violence, etc., etc.


  4. I was up in Ojai a few months back and it looked somewhat like you might expect of Van Nuys in 1945. Small, active but uncongested, surrounded by hills/mountains and produce farms, and a bit of industry.

    As for the U.S.’s pinnacle year, I’d say it was around 1926.


  5. Oops.
    I meant to comment on the Serbers picture.

    When I was growing up in the 60s there were many acres of undeveloped land in the west valley with rows of eucalyptus used as windbreaks. Land was vacant on both sides of the RR tracks for about a mile (west of Northridge and into Chatsworth). Also Warner Center was a large empty area. Orange groves started dying off about then because the trees were getting old and weren’t being tended.


  6. Van Nuys looks a lot more quaint and comforting back in 1945. Though I don’t know if I would want to live there back then. I would have been lynched!


  7. I would have loved the experience of living in Van Nuys back then. Any black and white photo of the past tends to draw me into a comfort spot. I do remember when my family moved here in 1960 that there were still orange groves in the valley and it was great to drive through them. Until my Mom would start sneezing like a piston engine. I still think of the valley back then when I smell oranges.


  8. 1945, but they didn’t have to cram 12 million people. It sure is pretty, though, and it will never be like that again. Now look to the future and how it can be made better.


  9. Aesthetically is much better but if you weren’t a white guy back in those days I’m not sure how much that mattered. Van Nuys is what it is now and I think it’s a mistake to romanticize the past. With that said it looks pretty nice and I’d like to go back for a day to experience it. However, the current day Van Nuys is getting better every day so cheep up!



  10. My mother’s father ran a meat market in Phoenix. He had to have lard biscuits with lard gravy every morning. He lived to be 80 but had a stroke and was paralyzed in his later years.


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