With no down payment, for $44.50 a month, you could buy a brand new, 2 bedroom, 1 bath home in Van Nuys in 1950 starting at $7,950.00 ($83,033.63 today).

Kester Square, a little pocket of 37 new single-family residences, was quickly erected in a few months and planted on old farmland just steps from Kester and Vanowen.

The San Fernando Valley was booming five years after the end of WWII and every smoking factory, every plan to build thousands of little houses on every square inch of land, and the daily, hourly pouring down of asphalt over millions of bulldozed walnut and orange groves was a continual occasion for rejoicing.

In Kester Square, new sewers, paved streets, sidewalks, curbs, lawns and shrubs, along with clothes lines and a backyard incinerator made life very instantly suburban ideal. There was no environmental review, just men in suits with money buying up land and building everywhere.

5/21/50 LA Times

Van Nuys Boulevard, “2 minutes away” from Kester Square, still had chain stores, restaurants, theaters and diagonal parking. It’s ruination, starting with street widening, began in 1955 and it has been on its death bed ever since.

Circa 1950.
1953 Van Nuys Boulevard.

Today when you drive down Bassett St., just west of Kester, a few blocks north of Vanowen, you still encounter a neat, tidy, small home pocket of pleasant houses. The general non-affluence of the area acts as a preservation tool because nobody can afford to or make money tearing down houses and replacing them with oversized uglies.

You would not dare venture out at night to stroll down Kester to Vanowen, but if you stayed home, or went out into your yard, front or back, you would still have a nice place to live, almost 70 years after Floyd C. Fisher, owner-builder, built a couple thousand homes for white veterans and their families.

Vanowen near Kester. Housing in Van Nuys, CA/ 2007.
5 7 1950 LA Times

Writer/photographer

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