Asian Studies Pacific Coast 2016 Conference

About Northridge

Like much of the San Fernando Valley, Northridge was first home to the Native American Tongva (“people of the earth”) and Tataviam (“people facing the sun”), who first arrived in the area over 2,000 years ago, and whose descendants still live in the Valley. Spanish Missionaries arrived to the area in 1769, claiming the entire San Fernando Valley for the King of Spain. In 1797 they established the Mission San Fernando Rey de España. The area went from ranchos and land grants, to agricultural tracts, and was split into ever smaller pieces, but continued to be mostly agricultural well into the 20th century.

The modern community was founded in 1910 as Zelzah station, a Southern Pacific depot town at the Colonel Henry Hubbard & "Bud" Wright Hawk Ranch north of Los Angeles. Shortly after the Los Angeles City Aqueduct opened in 1913, Henry Hubbard became a member of Aqueduct Board. The following year Zelzah Grammar School opened and citizens formally voted for annexation to the City of Los Angeles and Owens River water rights in 1915. William Mulholland, engineer of the mammoth project, lived nearby and maintained one of many large rancho tracts remaining from the Spanish, Mexican and Californio land grant days. Zelzah Acres became the name of one of those early housing tracts carved from the former enormous Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando lands joining nearby towns of Chatsworth Park, Lankershim, Owensmouth, San Fernando and Van Nuys. The post office and train depot were renamed North Los Angeles in 1929 and finally Northridge in 1938.

Farm land eventually proved more valuable as housing than as agricultural land, as WWII veterans moved into the area and abundant citrus groves were replaced with housing tracts. Most of the single family homes in Northridge are original or modified tract homes from that era. More recently, larger apartment complexes and condominium buildings have been built to accommodate younger residents and students at California State University, Northridge. Many aerospace and defense contracting companies emerged in Northridge, thriving off of the space race and the Cold War arms race. Even after the Cold War part of Northridge still has “clean-industrial” zoning with hundreds of high tech and industrial companies employing thousands of people. (Excerpted from "Northridge," City of Los Angeles, Council District 12 website)

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