Monthly Archives: December 2011

A Bit of History

Burbank was born during the Southern California land boom of the 1880’s when thousands of Americans came West during the railroad rate war between Santa Fe and Southern Pacific.

The new-comers so completely Americanized their little town that Burbank’s Indian & Spanish heritage survives today only in street signs.

Dr. David Burbank

After raising sheep on his properties and occasionally selling off small parcels, Dr. Burbank sold his holdings in 1886 to Los Angeles land speculators who formed the Providencia Land, Water & Development Company. The new owners laid out a business district and divided surrounding properties into small farms and residential lots. They called the town Burbank and opened the tract for sale on May 8, 1887.

Burbank officially became the Valley’s first independent City as voters approved incorporation on July 1, 1911. At the time the City had a population of 500.

The Movies

Movies were big news in Burbank as early as 1920’s with production companies shooting many scenes on City streets. First National Pictures (later to become Warner Bros.) started building its huge lot in 1926. Columbia purchased 40 acres in 1934 for the Columbia Ranch with another 40 acres added in 1949. The City’s position in the entertainment world continued to mount with the opening of Walt Disney Studios in 1939 and NBC’s purchase of property in 1951 for its color studios.

Growing Pains

The stock market crash of 1929 brought the City’s industrial growth & real estate development to an abrupt halt. The depression extended to the middle 1930’s when increased employment at Lockheed Aircraft and construction work created by the Metropolitan Water District brought improvement to the economic situation. In 1940 Lockheed purchased the Union Air Terminal keeping it open for public use and for testing Lockheed built aircraft.

As World War II broke out Lockheed was building record numbers of famous Hudson bombers, the P-38 and PV-1 Venture. Lockheed subcontracted some assembly work to dozens of businesses that sprung up around the City.

A new era began for Burbank at mid-century. For the first time in a town’s history a period of prosperity did not come to a halt at the end of a cycle of sudden growth. The wartime industrial boom had been followed by a postwar real estate boom, leaving few undeveloped areas in the Community. Burbank had just passed through a period of growing pains for a city

Mary M. Howard Room

The new vehicle room dedicated to Mary M. Howard is now the home of the vintage vehicles.

Farm Room

A fully-equipped spring wagon (including the horse, not pictured here) sits ready to roll in the new farm room. This room depicts what housing was like for early farmers in Burbank.

Seagraves Fire Pumper 1949

According to retired Battalion Chief Gary Sutliff, this engine was in service from 1949 to the late 1970’s. Come see the full exhibit which tells the whole story of the Fire Pumper

Kong’s Speed Shop

The Kong’s Speed Shop, built in the Mary M. Howard Room, has an interesting collection of photos, automotive artifacts and a display of the Road Kings of Burbank, a group originally formed in 1952. Also on display is an original Kong racing motor.

Burbank’s Early Movie Industry

Vintage Movie Posters depicting a few of the many movies made here in Burbank

Burbank’s Early Movie Industry

A movie industry exhibit shows some of the equipment used on movie sets in the old days such as a 35mm Moviola motion piture projector used in the 1920’s and 1930’s, Klieg lights, editing machines, and original movie posters. And don’t forget to visit the ever-popular Warner Bros. exhibit showing costumes from Speed Racer the movie