Van Nuys Boulevard in Three Eras.

Van Nuys Blvd. Opening 1911. (DWP)
Van Nuys Blvd. Opening 1911. (DWP)

Van Nuys Boulevard was made in 1910, open for traffic and business in 1911.

It was the heart of the San Fernando Valley, and apparently a quite pleasant and neighborly place to shop.

Van Nuys Blvd. Early 1950s
Van Nuys Blvd. Early 1950s

Cars were parked at a diagonal (like Glendale’s Brand Blvd. today) which effectively and passively narrowed the wideness of the street. It was a more pedestrian friendly boulevard.

Van Nuys circa 1960
Van Nuys circa 1960

But in 1954 Victory and Van Nuys Boulevard were widened. The high intensity lights came later, but the effect was to turn the street into a type of freeway, perfect for cruising, but inhospitable to much else.

Van Nuys at Friar, facing north, September 2014.
Van Nuys at Friar, facing north, September 2014.

The 2014 view is what we see today, a wide street stripped of appeal, whose stores are either vacant or taken up with low rent bail bonds, and cheap crap.

Wide streets are not where people walk and shop. They want trees to shade them. They want to cross the street without walking across six lanes of speeding cars. Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Encino and Tarzana, all the wealthier parts of the San Fernando Valley, have all grasped this basic fact of life and have planted trees and landscaped medians to humanize their business districts.

What accounts for the neglect other than a lingering racism and an inability to formulate a plan financed by government and developers? If a sea of blond-haired people started coming here, would Mayor Garcetti and Councilwoman Nury Martinez suddenly spring into action? Why is Van Nuys different than Highland Park, Encino, North Hollywood or Burbank? Are we somewhere on Mars?

The postcards are (once again) courtesy of Valley Relics. The 2014 photo is taken from Google Street views.


3 thoughts on “Van Nuys Boulevard in Three Eras.

  1. Yes, parking on Van Nuys Boulevard was changed from diagonal to parallel; however, the “width” of the Boulevard remained the same.
    The development of Van Nuys’ “crap” ridden environment and unhealthy
    community is due to decades of land-banking slumlords, organized crime
    and civic corruption.
    Eliminate the rot and healthy growth will follow.


  2. Aaaaah, well, not completely true, Andy…there is still some racial/nay, cultural attitude to be dealt with. A number of years back, when the beloved Live Oak tree fell at Louise just south of Ventura Blvd., it was further decided-at that time-to remove the oaks from the front area of that crummy looking mall bordering Louise. The Armenian jeweler “poopood” the sentimentality of the oaks and said: “all I care about is that the customers see my sign and store front”…I never returned to that neighborhood again! I guess those from baron wastelands seemingly like making an area look like the place from whence they came! (Seriously!!) Alas, two Latinos on my street…and both didn’t apparently like taking care of their yards, so they paved them over and turned them into parking lots. One now has a series of illegal rentals taking up what remains of the limited street parking. Between this scum and the post office and short-spaced businesses on Kester and Magnolia, our streets are no longer friendly or available for those of us who actually live here and own our houses…I know, “pave paradise, put up a parkin’ lot!”. The choice is to move (“white flight”) or get inundated by the new comers who couldn’t care less about what they do to these venerable old neighborhoods. It saddens me to look at what used to be (and find new respect for those OVERLY DISCIPLINED former owners of houses and businesses, and of whom I felt such suspicion as a kid) and wish I could have another chance to learn more from them…

    By the way, if my memory serves me correctly, the last egg farm we bought fresh eggs from was right off Chandler Blvd. and before Coldwater. There is a little area that used to have a couple of small businesses therein; it was just recently leveled and now a giant housing complex has replaced it…anyway, it was across the street and I think it was right off Chandler, but had a long driveway to the back of the property where the fresh eggs were available? Note: an ordinance was passed that basically wiped out raising chickens in the Valley; but recently, someone found a small loophole and it is possible to have something like 2-3 of the birds in your yard under certain conditions…of course that would likely include dealing with nosy neighbors…of which there are way too many to mention now. It’s just unfortunate that everyone is for themselves and everyone sees laws in a way that benefits them-personally. And no one seems to care much about following codes-except when they are calling to complain about their neighbors. Things have changed far more rapidly in the past 25-30 years. But back in the’50’ & 60’s, our area seemed to be overflowing with ‘refugees’ from Chicago? Now I never could figure that one out. Who would leave the Cubbies behind???

    p.s. am looking forward to meeting Tommie and seeing this terrific recommendation of yours: “Valley Relics”. I had visited his website over the years, but never gone out there. Now I really do wanna check it out!!!


    1. That is quite sad about the oak. I have a special attachment to that street. As you know, my mother was named Louise.
      Her best friends, Ann and Jerry, lived right at 4800 Louise Avenue for some 40 years. They had my father’s 70th birthday at their home, as well as his memorial service six years later. They traveled together, and Ann, who worked as a therapist, was often a sounding board for my mother who sought her advice. Jerry worked as an attorney and put my parents’ wills in order. I visited that street often, was told stories about John Wayne’s house, or Clark Gable’s estate, all of which were nestled up there, and many of which have been torn down or tarted up by the newcomers.


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