A History of North Hollywood, CA

The Lankershim Years

In 1887, J.B Lankershim, a local real estate developer, sought the help of eight other developers and bought 12,000 acres. Here Lankershim founded a town, and the residents called int Toluca. In 1888, the real estate developers created small ready-made farms with fruit and nut trees and sold them to people who wanted to purchase small farm lots. The gold rush of the 1880s developed a great interest in southern California and land ownership. The farms were a massive success until the 1890s.

The Land Bust of The 1890s

Drought and a drying up of the gold brought difficult times to southern California. Yet, despite this drought, the fruit and nut farmers still had good crops. They formed a Toluca Fruit Growers Association in 1894. The train made a daily freight stop at Toluca the following year, although the depot bore the name Lankershim. In 1896, the town changed its name to Lankershim.

Home of The Peach

In 1903 the area became colloquially known as “The Home of The Peach,” because of all of the peach trees and was named so for the founding of the Bonner Fruit Company, the largest peach cannery, and employer of the area. When the Los Angeles Aqueduct was finished in 1913, farmers wanted to purchase the excess water. Still, the federal laws permitting the construction prohibited the city from selling the water outside the city limits.

Farmers remained resistant for many years to annex the area to Los Angeles. However, it was annexed to the city in 1919. Despite water promises, the city withheld from the farmers, so when droughts hit, they were forced to sell or mortgage their small farms. Real estate developers bought up the properties and marketed them to prospective homeowners. Real estate developers began to market the glamor of Hollywood due to its proximity and was renamed North Hollywood. The result was a huge housing development surge that transformed it into the suburb it now is.

Shopping Centers


In the 1940s and 50s, the first department stores and auto dealers called Valley Plaza emerged. Other retail stores began to dot Laurel Canyon all the way to Oxnard. The Valley Plaza was once the largest shopping center on the West Coast. Now, due to new development and modern retail spaces, much of the Valley Plaza remains empty.

The Old Lankershim Downtown Area

What was once the heart of Lankershim, in the 1950s housed some of the largest retail stores, banks, and department stores in the area. But with the construction of the shopping center in the mid-1950s, the downtown retail stores found it difficult to survive, and many retail spaces were left empty.

Loss of Popularity

By the early 1960s, many of the early owners were old. Children had moved on. Black and Hispanic families moved out of the downtown areas into this area, and by the 1990s, the economic family standards of residents had become much lower.

In the 1990s, the area became known for the infamous bank robbery where the robbers carried assault weapons and wore military body protection. The shootout involved hundreds of police officers and lasted for an entire hour.

Change Again

Today, the area is again experiencing change. New construction and remodeling projects are transforming the area into a modern community that is committed to preserving its historic character while at the same time building new homes and entertainment districts for community residents to enjoy.