CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Little is known about the Chumash Indians, who were this community's earliest settlers. When the first white men rode in with the Portola Expedition in 1769 to explore the beautiful hills and valleys, they encountered the Indians and called the area the Valley of the Oaks.
It was in this area, now named Woodland Hills, that the treaty was signed to end the Mexican War. This cleared the way for California to be admitted to the union in 1850 as the 31st state.
When Victor Girard Kleinberger first laid eyes on the rolling grasslands with pools of water, he called it the " dream city." A visionary and entrepreneur, he foresaw a large population and a thriving economy in the town he named Girard, as he later came to call himself.
Girard was an ambitious man who had a penchant for deceit. In 1922, Girard and Boulevard Land Company purchased 2,886 acres, which was subdivided into 6,000 lots. Girard sold thousands of small lots to families in a farming area where 80 acre parcels had more typically been sold.
To expedite land sales in his new town in 1923, Girard erected gates, a mosque tower, and a business district with rows of stones with false fronts to convey the impression of a flourishing economy.
Later, in an attempt to hold off bankruptcy and his creditors, Girard attached liens to all the property he sold without informing the buyers!
In spite of his unscrupulous methods, Girard believed in the town and the land, and his plan worked. His advertisements in the newspaper did, in fact, attract new residents and businesses, and a great deal of new construction was initiated.
He beautified the area by importing and planting more than 120,000 eucalyptus, sycamore, fir, pine and pepper trees. Years later, as the trees grew, it was appropriate to change the town's name to Woodland Hills.
With the country in the throes of the Depression, Girard's " super community" crumbled. Despite the forlorn economic state of Woodland Hills, in which only 75 families remained, the town survived. Large family landholders moved in, including Harry Warner of Warner Brothers Pictures.
Our city is named after the unforgettable character " Tarzan Of The Apes," and is a tribute to his even more unforgettable creator - Edgar Rice Burroughs. After re-locating to Southern California in his early twenties, he began what he thought was a hobby, writing novels. His " Tarzan of the Apes" novels became so successful that in 1919, he was able to purchase a large ranch north of Los Angeles from General Harrison Gray Otis, was founder and publisher of the " Los Angeles Times." He named it Tarzana. The citizens of the community that sprung up around the ranch voted to adopt the name " Tarzana" when their town was incorporated in 1928.
The Tarzana Community Center Foundation was a non-profit organization formed by residents to preserve the tree-shaded southeast corner of Vanalden Avenue and Ventura Boulevard for use by the community. Owned by Public Storage at the time and leased to a fountain and statuary business, the commercial corner came up for sale. Residents were opposed to another commercial development in the area and wished to save the parklike ambiance.
As efforts to develop the property at the corner of Vanalden and Ventura Boulevard failed, first as a Public Storage site and later as a Sav-On and then a Bristol Farms, what was known as Helen's wild dream began to move from dream to reality.
In the spring 2000 issue of the Tarzana Property Owners Association Newsletter, TPOA president Helen Itria Norman wrote of her dream, admittedly improbable, in which Tarzana residents, compelled by generosity, community spirit, and a desire to improve quality of life for future generations, would purchase the property to preserve its beauty and create a community center where various groups could meet a center which would be available to the entire community and include a small museum to preserve Tarzana's wonderful history and unique cultural heritage.
It was the expression of this wild dream that led to the formation of the Tarzana Community Center Foundation in February 2000.
Woodland Hills Tarzana Chamber History
By Rose Goldwater, Historian
The community of Woodland Hills, with over 80,000 residents, is bounded by Victory Boulevard to the north, Corbin Avenue to the east, Mulholland Drive to the south, and the Los Angeles city limits to the west. The historical background of Woodland Hills rests in the story of Rancho El Escorpion. The rancho was first owned by three Indians and a Spaniard, title for most of it eventually passed to Miguel Leonis a Basque who came to the Valley in 1858. Within a short time after he arrived he married a widow whose father, Odon, had been one of the rancho's original owners.
Leonis soon acquired his neighbors' lands apparently by whatever means possible and by 1871 had become the sole owner of most of the property round about.
In l924 Victor Girard, a real estate developer, subdivided over 2,800 acres of the territory into 6,826 lots. For the next 17 years the settlement was known by the name of Girard. Girard planted trees by the thousands throughout the area. A country club was laid out in the hills, and trees on the golf course were waters by resident Malcolm Jones from water barrels lugged up the hills in horse carts. The depression proved disastrous to the ambitions of the Girard Real Estate Company. Lots became practically unsalable, and by 1931 the population of Girard was only 75 people.
The end of the thirties saw greater interest in development here and in 1941 a chamber of commerce was formed. It was at this time the name of Woodland Has adopted, and by 1950 the community had some 4,500 residents.
During the thirties Harry Warner, the motion picture pioneer started amassing what was to become known as the Warner Ranch and eventually acquired 1,200 acres where raised thoroughbred racing horses.
In the early 1980's acquisition of some 630 acres of Warner's vast ranch was acquired by Kaiser Aetner and assured the name's continued prominence into the area and is known as Warner Center.
Woodland Hills is also the home of Los Angeles Pierce College.This community college opened September 1947, and had its beginning as an agricultural school. While it continues to be known for its excellent agricultural and animal husbandry programs, Pierce's students can now take a wide range of academic and professional subjects there in a rural setting.