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Studio City

Studio City, Steve

Originally known as Laurelwood, the area Studio City occupies what was once part of Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando. This land changed hands several times during the late 19th Century and was eventually owned by James Boon Lankershim (1850-1931), and eight other developers who organized the Lankershim Ranch Land and Water Company. In 1899, however, the area lost most water rights to Los Angeles and was no longer viable for farming.

Construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct began in 1908 and five years later, water reached the San Fernando Valley. Real estate boomed, and a syndicate led by Harry Chandler, business manager of the Los Angeles Times, with Hobart Johnstone Whitley, Isaac Van Nuys, and James Boon Lankershim acquired the remaining 47,500 acres of the southern half of the former Mission lands—everything west of the Lankershim town limits and south of present-day Roscoe Boulevard excepting the Rancho Encino. Whitley platted the area of present-day Studio City from portions of the existing town of Lankershim as well as the eastern part of the new acquisition.

On June 21, 1927, the Lankershim Press announced that the Central Motion Picture District, a corporation set up to develop movie company sites, had arranged for the construction of a $20 million film center named Studio City. Until then, Studio City was a large parcel of rural land. Ventura Boulevard was a dusty country road and the Studio City Business District comprised of a drug store, a grocery store, a small bank, a pair of hamburger stands and a handful of modest businesses. The new development was planned for the NE corner of Ventura Highway and Prospect Street (now Laurel Canyon Boulevard). The first phase of the project was the construction of the 200-acre Mack Sennett Studio with it’s two story mission-style administration building being one of the tallest structures in the Valley.

The name Studio City would become official in 1928, when the Mack Sennett Studios began shooting a two reeler, “The Keystone Cops” and the “Oh-You-Kid Bathing Beauties” along the hillsides of this beautiful area. At the time, the city considered building an airfield in the east Valley to serve Los Angeles. A private field was established at Ventura Boulevard and Fulton Avenue, and the city took control of Ventura Boulevard from the state of California. The first traffic signal in the Valley was placed at Ventura and Lankershim Boulevards. Thus, both the first airstrip and the first traffic light were built in Studio City.

In 1935 it became Republic Pictures Studio. Many famous movie stars got their start in the “Republic Days” including, President Ronald Regan, James Stewart, Bette Davis, Jack Benny, Tony Curtis, Jack Webb, Joan Fontaine, Jane Wyman, Peter Lawford, Ray Milland, Alfred Hitchcock, Roy Rogers, and John Wayne.

Republic made a score of noteworthy pictures. Among them, Flying Tigers, Fighting Seabees, The Red Pony, Wake of the Red Witch, Sands of Iwo Jima, The quiet Man, Jubilee Trail, Johnny Guitar, Lisbon and many others.

During and after working for Republic, many stars, and movie industry employees would make this appealing and conveniently located community of Studio City their home.

Famous names that have worked at these studios over the years include: D.W. Griffith, Mabel Norman, Ben Turpin, Charlie Chaplin, Slim Summerville, Harry Langdon, Edward Everett Horton, W.C. Fields, Gloria Swanson, Marie Prevost, Carole Lombard, Gene Autry, Vaughn Monroe, Barbara Stanwyck, Rory Calhoun, Ward Bond, and Joan Crawford.

In 1963, CBS Television became the primary lessee of the lot. Almost immediately after leasing the Republic Pictures lot, CBS began to place their network-produced filmed shows there, including Gunsmoke, Rawhide, My Three Sons, and Gilligan’s Island. The Wild Wild West soon followed in 1965. The facility was later renamed the CBS Studio Center. MTM Enterprises (headed by actress Mary Tyler Moore and her then-husband, Grant Tinker) became the Studio Center’s primary tenant, beginning in 1970. Moore’s memorable sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, began filming here along with its spinoffs, Rhoda, Phyllis, and Lou Grant.

In 1935, a mere 400 employees were on payroll at Republic Studios. Today, thousands more are employed at a variety of studios and entertainment-related businesses that operate in Studio City. Ventura Boulevard contains miles of thriving mom-and-pop businesses, boutiques, restaurants, banks, and offices.

Studio City was created by the movie industry. It was and still is, an area where people go for walks at night. It is a safe, healthy place to raise children and has been considered by many to be the “Jewel of the Valley”. The community might well be the Valley’s closest approximation of a “bohemian” neighborhood attracting scores of musicians, writers, movie-hopefuls, and other artists.

By the 1980s, Studio City’s population was about 25,000 people, and the only studio was the CBS Studio Center, a few steps north of Ventura Boulevard.

In January of 1985, a CBS/MTM Studios sign went up at the main gate. Since then, a few of the shows produced at the Studio include: Newhart, Thirtysomething, Dinosaurs, Roseanne, A Different World, My Two Dads, Evening Shade, Twilight Zone, and full-length features including, Father of the Bride and The Addams Family.

In 1992, CBS acquired MTM’s interest in the studio, and once again the sign CBS Studio Center went up at the main gate. Since that time, the Studio has been home to several more series: Seinfeld, Hot in Cleveland, That 70s Show, 3rd Rock, Will & Grace, Parks and Recreation, ET, The Odd Couple, Just Shoot Me!, Grace Under Fire, Men Behaving Badly, Dave’s World, Love and War, Double Rush, Hearts Afire, The Larry Sanders Show, Cybill, Unhappily Ever After, American Gladiators, A.J.’s Time Travelers, Round House, Adventures in Wonderland, and the feature films: I Love Trouble, Mr. Wrong, Boys on the Side, House Arrest, Desperate Measures, Dr. Doolittle, and The Muppet Movie. Today, Studio City boasts a strong partnership between the commercial and residential community.

In 2015 Ventura Boulevard through Studio City, along with Lankershim Boulevard, was the site of CicLAvia, an event sponsored by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority in which major roads are temporarily closed to motorized vehicle traffic and used for recreational human-powered transport.

Studio City is one of 24 named communities in the San Fernando Valley, which are part of the incorporated City of Los Angeles. Only 12 miles northwest of the Los Angeles Civic Center, it rests in the foothills of the north slope of the Santa Monica mountains, a prime location for easy access to employment centers in Hollywood, Downtown, the Valley and Beverly Hills. The Ventura Freeway from Los Angeles and the San Diego Freeway from the coastal cities gives easy access to all of Southern California. Studio City is ideally situated for living, working or relaxing and represents the “gateway” to the Valley due to it’s unique geographical location.

The different local organizations including; Studio City Chamber of Commerce, Studio City Residents Association, Studio City Improvement Association, Studio City Beautification Association, Studio City Civic Organization, Studio City/Sherman Oaks Rotary and others began to work closely together toward a common vision – improving the quality of life in Studio City.

The Chamber of Commerce and the Residents Association established the Studio City Farmer’s Market on Ventura Place every Sunday that has over the years become an international tourist attraction and is one of the most successful markets in the Southland. The Improvement Association has repaired alleys and created a new beautiful median on Ventura Boulevard, and with the help of the Chamber has developed a brand new parking structure behind the Bank of America that allows 400 more cars to park, while the Beautification Association continues to plant trees and provide landscape and maintenance throughout the community. This type of effort continues today and as a result, Studio City’s future remains brighter with every passing year.

Studio City remains home to many in the creative pursuits. Some former and current residents include: Ed Asner, Gene Autry, Yvonne De Carlo, Ed Begley, Jr., George Clooney, Jon Cryer, Bruno Mars, Selena Gomez, Erik Estrada, Mickey Rooney, Anna Nicole Smith, Dennis Miller, Alyssa Milano, Roddy McDowall, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Priestley, Nancy Walker, Joe Barbera, Frank Zappa, Ryan Gosling, Vanessa Hudgens, and Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Studio City area schools are as follows:

Bridges Academy
3921 Laurel Canyon Boulevard | 818-506-1091
5-12 | Los Angeles Unified School District

Carpenter Community Charter School
3909 Carpenter Avenue | 818-761-4363
K-5 | Los Angeles Unified School District

St. Charles Borromeo School
10850 Moorpark Street | 818-508-5359
K-8 | CA Private Schools

Walter Reed Middle School
4525 Irvine Avenue | 323-487-7600
6-8 | Los Angeles Unified School District

Campbell Hall
4533 Laurel Canyon Boulevard | 818-980-7280
K-12 | CA Private Schools

Harvard-Westlake School
3700 Coldwater Canyon Avenue | 818-980-6692
10-12 | CA Private Schools

Sunnyside Preschool
3646 Coldwater Canyon Avenue | 818-763-7476
K | Los Angeles Unified School District

ABC Little Schools
11728 Moorpark Street | 818-766-5557
K-1 | Los Angeles Unified School District