A Brief History of Burbank, CA
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A Brief History of Burbank, CA

burbank california skyline and city

The city of Burbank is synonymous with reputable media companies like Warner Brothers Entertainment, Cartoon Network, Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Company among others. Located Northeast of Hollywood, in Los Angeles County, Burbank first boasted of its now very great business ventures in 1930. Both the First National Studio now known as Warner Brothers and the Bob Hope Airport, which was originally the United Airport, were part of Burbank’s first commercial ventures in 1930. The city was born after Dr. David Burbank bought parcels of two Colonial Spanish land grants, Rancho San Rafael and Rancho La Providencia. Burbank, a dentist, purchased the property to pursue sheep farming which he successfully did.

Dr. Burbank turned out to be an astute businessman who sold large pieces of land to the Southern Pacific Railroad as well as to the Providencia Land, water, and development company. By selling these portions of land, he welcomed development to the area which in turn saw the population of the town grows. The owners of Providencia land , water, and Development company set about developing the city of Burbank. They built a water system that allowed farmers to irrigate their land, promoting agriculture. In addition to that, they planned the layout of the town and carved out avenues some of which still exist to today.

Meanwhile, the Southern Pacific railroad made the markets accessible to farmers bringing in their harvest to Burbank. As a result, the town built warehouses along the railroad for the farmer’s convenience. The railroad also opened up Burbank to tourist and immigrants. With the population growing so much the real estate sector was booming, and money was coming in. However, this was short-lived, and the bubble burst in 1889 resulting in a mass exodus from the town. This, however, did not deter the remaining residents from rebuilding. Residents like former heavyweight boxing champion, James .J. Jeffries, took up foreign trade. He raised and sold cattle to Mexico and South America.

Burbank pioneered the first telephone exchange in San Fernando Valley in 1900 which paved the way for the San Fernando Home phone company five years later. In 1918, San Fernando Home phone company was taken over by the Pacific Telephone Company enlarging the phone company’s territory.

Two months after Burbank became a city in 1911, it welcomed its first red car. This was after its residents sacrificially put up a subsidy of 48,000 dollars for the officials of the Pacific Electric Street car to extend the rail from Glendale to Burbank. Still growing, in 1928, the city of Burbank, unlike the rest of the San Fernando Valley communities, was among the first 13 cities to join the Metropolitan water district of Southern California. This is one of the largest water suppliers in the world.

When real estate began to bounce back in the 1930s, the city began a 100 home construction project. The project flagged off in 1934, and the value of these properties exceeded property values before the 1929 depression. This saw Burbank become a major suburb of Los Angeles.

Over the years the growth of Burbank has echoed the growth of the entertainment industry. As the real estate grew in Burbank, more entertainment companies established themselves in the city. By 1940, companies like Warner Brothers and Columbia Pictures had headquarters there. Between 1940 and 1960, more media companies joined them and the phrase “Beautiful Downtown Burbank” was coined.

At the same time, the entertainment industry was growing in Burbank so was the aviation sector. Boeing was building its planes in the United Airport in the 1930s. Before that, Lockheed Aircraft company had established its headquarters in Burbank in the early 1920s. Due to its exponential growth, Lockheed bought Burbank’s Union Air Terminal for its commercial flights in 1940. However, the Tri-city Airport Authority bought the airport back from them in 1978. The Authority renamed it Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport. In 2003, after the death of actor Bob Hope, the airport was renamed the Bob Hope Airport and its serves nearly all the key airlines. Expansion plans have been discussed to re-brand the airport to identify it more with Hollywood and Burbank.

Burbank has become famous as a tourism and business center. It is the epicenter of the entertainment and aviation industry. This once small dusty town is now home to the trendiest bars, world-class hotels and restaurants, museums and much more. It was named one of 100 best communities for young people in the US in 2007.

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