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Burbank History, California

Burbank, California, was officially established in 1887. In the course of Burbank history, Burbank has grown from a ‘tiny village’ to a ‘major Los Angeles suburb and subsequently to being the ‘Media Capital of the World’. Before moving on to that part of Burbank history, however, we will pause to look back.

Present-day Burbank site was originally part of two Spanish-ranches (Rancho San Rafael and Rancho La Providencia). In 1867, Dr David Burbank bought 19 sq km of land from each of these two ranches to start his own sheep-ranch. Realizing the importance of a railway link (the advantages it promised), Dr Burbank allowed right-of-way through his land-holdings to South Pacific Railroad for just one dollar. The first SPR train passed through his property in 1874 and soon outsiders started taking interest in the region. By 1886, a group of land speculators bought Dr Burbank’s property from him. In 1887, they set up a company named Providencia Land, Water, and Development Company in order to develop the new settlement – the land was plotted, marked out into separate residential areas, farms, even a business district and everything was put up for sale; the new settlement was named Burbank after the first land-investor.

Burbank History – Early Years to WWII Days

Burbank started walking on the path of progress from the very beginning. By the first decade of the 20th century, Burbank had its own bank, high-school, telephone-exchange and even a newspaper. Its all-round progress ultimately led to its incorporation as a city by 1911. In the same year Burbank was connected to the Pacific Electric Streetcar line.

The relocation of the Moreland Truck Company (from Los Angeles to Burbank) in 1917 proved another significant event in Burbank history – it not only underlined the growing significance of Burbank, employment opportunities created by the company also boosted the city’s population. Of course, the real estate boom of the 1920s, followed by the arrivals of the aviation and entertainment industries affected the population more – if the city had a population of around 500 in 1911, the city’s populace rose to nearly 3000 by 1920 and to about 17000 by 1930.

The Lockheed Aircraft Company, originally based in Santa Barbara, launched their Burbank plant in 1928. It was this same plant that gave the nation its battle-winning air-crafts during the Second World War. (Burbank had an airport added to its other advantages/facilities in 1930. This air-terminal was purchased by Lockheed in 1940s).

Although First National Pictures (which in 1929 became the Warner Bros Company) was the only representative of the entertainment industry to have their operations in Burbank in the 1920s, other motion picture companies like Columbia Pictures, Walt Disney followed suit in the 1930s.

Burbank History – Post World War Days

Burbank continued to develop even in the post-WWII era. The 1950s saw an improvement of public amenities/facilities and Burbank turned into an important suburb of Los Angeles. The 1960s and 1970s saw more entertainment-related businesses shifting base to Burbank; chief among them were National Broadcasting Company that had its network television H.Q. relocated to Burbank. The 1970s also saw the city’s airport changing hands – it was purchased back by the Tri-city Airport Authority from the Lockheed Company and named Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport (it was re-named Bob Hope Airport in 2003 following the actor’s death).

Live telecast of City Council meetings that began in 1987 was a rather unique concept and it did much to boost the city’s image. The 1990s saw the Lockheed Company downing shutters of their Burbank plant and the NBC-Universal is moving out of Burbank. But, so far nothing has succeeded in restraining Burbank’s growth and development. With its unique conservation/recycling programs, present-day Burbank has established itself as both a touristic destination and a community to reside in.

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