Mulholland: Pay Roll Town of the San Fernando Valley

(ca. 1912)^^ - Photographic reproduction of original map showing subdivision of Mulholland between Burbank/Tejunga Creek and Fernando/San Fernando Reservoir. In addition, maps shows surrounding communities of Chatsworth, Van Nuys, Glendale, Hollywood, Marian, Owensmouth, La Canada.  


Historical Background

A simple photo album showing the development of the town of Mulholland, California, illustrates the giddy boosterism of San Fernando Valley land and agricultural developers at the turn of the century. “Mulholland: The Pay Roll Town of the San Fernando Valley” came to the State Library with no known provenance or exact date, but what is known is that the town was indeed named after William Mulholland, in honor of his innovative solution to the water problem.^*




(ca. 1912)^^ - Birds Eye view showing the townsite of Mulholland as seen from the top of the Pacoima Hills.  


Historical Notes
In 1873, Senator Charles Maclay of Santa Clara purchased 56,000 acres in the northern part of the San Fernando Valley adjacent to the old Mission of San Fernando Rancho. Then in 1887, Jouett Allen purchased under contract 1,000 acres of land between the Pacoima Wash and the Tujunga Wash. He chose the name that had long been applied to the beautiful canyon on the north and the “river” that flowed down from it. The land was purchased from the Maclay Rancho Water Co. which had taken over Senator Charles Maclay’s holdings in the Valley. Allen retained 500 acres for himself and subdivided the remainder in 1-acre tracts. From this the town of Pacoima was born.

The town was laid out to conform with the newly laid railroad. Large spacious and expensive two-story homes made their appearance, as the early planners had established building restrictions against anything of a lesser nature. The first concrete sidewalks and curbs were laid and were to remain the only ones in the velley for many years. The town was enjoying a prosperous births in those early boom days.

The Southern Pacific chose it as a site for a large brick passenger station, one of the finest on the line. But it, like the large hotel, the big two-story school building, and many commercial buildings, was to be torn down within a few years as the boom days receded. The early pioneers had frowned upon industry, which eventually resulted in the people turning from the exclusive suburb which they had set up to establish new homes closer to their employment.
In 1888, the main street was laid out in the center of the subdivision, 100 feet wide and eight miles long, running from the hills on the north through the townsite to the ranch line on the south. The street was named Taylor Avenue after President Taylor, then was named Pershing Street. We all know it by its present name- Van Nuys Boulevard. Building codes were established: no home could be built under $2,000.00. The land deed contained a clause that if liquor was sold on this property, it would revert to Jouett Allen or heirs.

The great flood of 1891 practically obliterated Pacoima. Growth ot this area ceased. The land owners turned to farming the land. Many found this too difficult a task. Little did they know that this section would later grow into a rich farming area when experts learned to what the soil is adapted and where water is plentiful. Judge Widney, a trustee of the Maclay Rancho Water Company, attempting to revive prosperity in 1912, renamed Pacoima “Mulholland.” This name lasted only one year.^^

Not much is known about why the Mulholland name only lasted for one year. It could have been that William Mulholland did not approve of his name being used for private development.




(ca. 1912)^^ – View showing the excursion at Mulholland (later Pacoima) at the celebration of the completion of the dam.  


Historical Notes

Pacoima Submerged Dam was built across Pacoima Creek in San Fernando Valley to create an underground reservoir. It was constructed by digging down to bedrock and included two gathering wells.^^




(ca. 1912)^^ - Crowds of people disembark a train at the new Mulholland Townsite.  





(ca. 1912)^^ - Opening sales day at the new Mulholland Townsite.  





(ca. 1912)^^ - View looking north at the new Mulholland Townsite.  The sales office is seen at center-left.  The sign on the building wall on the right reads “Mulholland Warehouse“.  





(ca. 1912)^^ - A group of men stand in front of the Lenz & Widney Tract Office at the Mulholland Townsite.  


Historical Notes

Walter M. Lenz and Robert J. Widney were sales agents for the project to develop the town of Mulholland and Mulholland Hills in the San Fernando Valley. The project developed by Mulholland Development Company, opened to public Nov. 10, 1912.




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^^California State Library Image Archive

^*California State Library Foundation - Bulletin

**Pacoima Chamber of Commerce



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