Did you know that North Hollywood is the birthplace of California statehood? American history was forever changed in January 1847, when Lt. Col. John C. Fremont of the United States and General Andres Pico of Mexico met at the Campo de Cahuenga (“Cahuenga Field”), now an historical monument across Lankershim Blvd. from the main entrance to Universal Studios, and signed the treaty that was to end the war between their two countries.
Twenty-two years later, in 1869, newcomer Isaac Lankershim recognized that the fertile lands lying just over the Cahuenga Pass from the city of Los Angeles would support many crops. He and his friend, I.N. Van Nuys, purchased the entire southern half of the San Fernando Valley, about 59,500 acres, for $115,000, and planted wheat. Thus was sown the Valley’s bountiful agricultural industry.
A general store and a hotel in 1888 signaled the beginning of our town site’s commercial development. In another two years, Wilson C. Weddington moved his family to Toluca/Lankershim, and with ten other families, established the town of Lankershim. By 1896, a post office, rail depot, school, and blacksmith had been added to our farming and fruit orchard community.
In 1910, the Bank of Lankershim opened, followed by a market, bakery, dry goods store and drug store. Streetlights, a constable, and the hustle and bustle of horseless carriages enlivened the community.
Lankershim Businessmen’s Association was formed in 1910. The “Red Car” transportation system began in 1911, and the town’s fire brigade was stationed at the northwest corner of Chandler and Lankershim. It was a two-wheel cart with a water tank and pump that took at least four volunteers to operate.
NoHo Arts District History
Business & Theatre Owners in the Universal City/North Hollywood Chamber of Commerce formed the idea of establishing a theatre and arts district in 1992 with support from L.A. Department of Cultural Affairs. We chose “NoHo” as it not only distinctly revealed our location, but also plays off the well-known “SoHo” Arts District of New York City. In the summer of 1993, we began with a handful of theaters and art galleries.
The NoHo Theatre and Arts Festival began on a small scale. The first of these annual Festivals celebrated the Arts & was so compact it could be contained in the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences courtyard.
This past year’s festival showed its color, music, and laughter over three blocks of Lankershim Blvd. Three stages featured live entertainment on an almost continuous basis. A Latin Village & Children’s Court was featured. We showcased every type of music, dance and all of the performing arts. Many of the over 30 theaters that are a part of NoHo offered free performances over this 2 day celebration of theatre and the arts in June.
There was a special tent of activities to entertain the visiting kids (and their accompanying adults). The entire area became an old-fashioned marketplace offering a multitude of vendors displaying their distinctive, hand-crafted wares & gifts. Our food court was continuously active as the throngs treated themselves to a multitude of local delicacies. A beer and wine garden added to our merry landscape.
But, of course, our NoHo area is a year ’round event. The theatres and galleries are growing in numbers and have been joined by cafes, shops, and entertainment related businesses of all kinds. Our neighborhood now has everything from a world famous coffee house to a renowned acting academy to post-production facilities & recording & rehearsal studios. Anything that an artist, or arts-patron, of any genre could need is within our ever-expanding boundaries. We even have the Metro system for easy transportation. Just 7 minutes to Universal & another 7 minutes to Hollywood Blvd.
We shouldn’t single out any one aspect of NoHo, however, boast we must. Driving the force behind our desire to let the world know what a treasure we have in our community are the live theaters. They are the very heart of the NoHo district. Nothing is more electric. Nothing is more exhilarating. Nothing is more intimate. And, in NoHo, nothing is more available. NoHo is, in essence, devoted to our thriving theater district. Come and visit. Have dinner, experience a show & top it off with cappuccino.
Our inspiration became an idea. Our idea fostered action and activity. As one can only hope in a situation such as this, NoHo took on a life of its own.