Automobiles travel in both directions on Sepulveda Boulevard where it crosses Saticoy Street in Van Nuys; direction shown is unknown. A billboard advertises Signal Gas, pumped next door at the service station (left).

Six decades or more along Sepulveda Bl in Van Nuys, life was very different than today.

People conducted all their daily activities, from work to shopping, in automobiles. They were frustrated by traffic, and there were many accidents. This started early in the morning, before sunrise, and continued long after dark, in a slow, honking, and impatient parade of tens of thousands of trucks, cars and buses.

Photograph caption dated January 5, 1961 reads, “This modern supermarket at the corner of Sepulveda and Victory boulevards in Van Nuys is the latest addition to the expanding Dale’s Market chain which now operates 10 stores in the Valley.” (LAPL)

The buildings along Sepulveda were a motley, junky collection of fast food, auto repair, filling stations, car washes, cheap motels, hardware, liquor and supermarket businesses dropped down between billboards and wooden power poles.

There was nowhere that was pleasant, in the sense of a community, with proper landscaping, trees, amenities, or aesthetic zoning regulating signs or advertising. 

There was no trace of grace, of history, of the old Spanish missions, the orange and walnut groves, the spectacular trees, flowers, and natural beauty that characterized California. Everything was garish, commercial, toxic, selling everything that polluted and sickened human beings in a circus of raucous, blind, aggressive hucksterism.

Photograph caption dated March 9, 1959 reads, “Hub Furniture Stores newest location on Sepulveda and Nordhoff in Van Nuys marks the 14th Hub Store in the greater Los Angeles area. March 14 is the opening day.”
Photograph caption dated March 3, 1961 reads, “Sherman Way and Sepulveda.” This intersection tied with Century and Airport boulevards for fifth worst intersection, each with 20 accidents in 1959.;

Even with many new, lovely ranch homes, built after the war, on the residential blocks nearby, the general appearance of Sepulveda was ratty, unappealing, low class and frightening.

Mr. and Mrs. Audie Murphy and son, 6233 Orion Ave. Van Nuys, CA, 1953

Holdups at liquor stores, kidnappings, harassment of women by men driving past, littering, dumping, intoxicated drivers; in every respect related to civilized life, mid-20thCentury Sepulveda Bl. was so very different than today.  

Billboard: Sepulveda at Victory, 2018.
Photograph caption dated May 19, 1955 reads “All State Carpets, 5900 Sepulveda Blvd., is one of the many stores participating in Van Nuys Friday and Saturday Dollar Day sales event. This is the home of All State Carpets where fine quality carpeting is available.”
Photograph caption dated March 3, 1961 reads, “Cars whiz through the Valley’s most dangerous intersection. Victory and Sepulveda boulevards listed 22 collisions.

The only thing that remains the same is the presence of openly gay events, something that was even advertised on a sign in 1954.

Photograph caption dated October 20, 1954 reads “‘Gay Ninety Days’ at Builders Emporium, Van Nuys, is opened by Victor M. Carter, at driver’s seat of early-day Cadillac, firm’s president. Featuring month-long event is ‘good old fashioned prices,’ bearded salesmen, and 5,000 derbies to be given customers. In picture, left to right, are Jay Delia, Mel Goodman, Carter, Margaret Porth, Marthie Ferderer, Helen Ireland, George Blum and Lou Johnson.”

4 thoughts on “Six Decades Ago Along Sepulveda Bl. in Van Nuys.

  1. Show my great uncle Frank’s place on Van Owen in the ’40s when the streets were unpaved and there were rows of eucalyptus windrows. He had a ‘ranch’ of a few acres there. Or was it maybe Van Nuys, north and south. Can’t remember since it was so long ago. SFV was never the same after the big boom. I was just a little kid then.


  2. “Frightening”? I think that’s a bit much. It WAS utilitarian, shall we say. True, there wasn’t much beautification. But it was pretty easily navigable, if it was anything like the commercial corridors I was familiar with.

    “……Holdups at liquor stores, kidnappings, harassment of women by men driving past, littering, dumping, intoxicated drivers…..”

    Not much argument there. I dunno about kidnappings, but there was a lot more of the rest on that list than there is now. Selective memory. Life was more dangerous 60-70 years ago than now. Littering was commonplace. As was drunk driving. Which made for horrific traffic death rates. (Today they are 1/5th what they were in the mid-1950s, as measured by vehicle miles traveled.) Much safer cars has helped of course.


    1. I think there might have been less awareness of littering. But it is commonplace now for many people to dump couches, chairs, furniture, along the street.
      There are also many who park in their cars along the street and leave behind fast food containers, soda and beer cans.
      There is not the high level of cleanliness here that one sees on a daily basis in such countries as Japan or Germany.


      1. Ohhh THAT!…… yeah, I hafta agree there. I was thinking solely about people dumping their wrappers from the A&W Drive-In out the car window. Lady Bird Johnson and Iron Eyes Cody shamed us to be better than that, and it worked. Littering plummeted.

        The dumping of furniture is on a scale unimaginable even a few decades ago. So much so that KFI’s Bryan Suits devotes a segment towards the end of his 8-10pm Sunday evening show: “Have You Seen a Free Couch?”. Listeners tweet or instagram their fav photos and location.

        Furniture-dumping and littering is almost entirely a function of ethnicity, and everyone knows it (though given the Soviet-like speech control we subject ourselves to in the Current Era, are reluctant to say it.) Maybe things are different in the hills and hollers of West Virginia. I don’t know. I DO know what I see here.

        Never been to Japan. I have been to Germany. You could eat off the sidewalks.


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