Neighborhood Spotlight: In Valley Glen, a modest suburb comes of age

Councilman Paul Krekorian, left, helps clean the Great Wall of Los Angeles, a 2,700-foot-long mural in Valley Glen that depicts scenes from California’s history.
Councilman Paul Krekorian, left, helps clean the Great Wall of Los Angeles, a 2,700-foot-long mural in Valley Glen that depicts scenes from California’s history.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Timesl)

The narrow strip of the San Fernando Valley that would one day become Valley Glen was, for much of the 1800s, part of the vast collection of wheat fields owned by the wealthy Lankershim family.

Those fields would give rise to the small hamlet of Lankershim, which would in turn grow into the tracts and commercial strips of North Hollywood. That neighborhood remained virtually intact until its western third split off in the 2000s to become Valley Glen.

Decades before the split, however, the area became a major draw thanks to the film industry. Studios began to migrate over the hill, with Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures and Mack Sennett among the production houses to set up shop on the north side of the Hollywood Hills.


By the 1930s, this migration of the entertainment industry had increased the Valley’s diversity to the point where its first Jewish house of worship, Adat Ariel, was founded in a small area near North Hollywood called Valley Glen.

World War II accelerated the growth of the Valley’s other great economic engine, the aerospace industry. As Burbank became a center of aircraft manufacturing, demand for housing for the workers who toiled on the assembly lines exploded, and the final push to develop the Valley began in earnest.

During the war, the Valley’s population doubled, and it would increase fivefold after the war. The vast tracts of suburban ranch homes that typify the Valley in the popular imagination were built in the postwar period to house this influx of people.

To provide higher education opportunities for these new residents, Los Angeles Valley College was founded in 1949 in Van Nuys, and moved to its current location in what is now Valley Glen in 1951.

The college provided something of a new center of gravity for the area, and the construction of the second phase of the Hollywood Freeway in 1968, which cut a huge swath of the neighborhood off from North Hollywood proper, eventually led residents there to vote on a new name for the region.

They chose Valley Glen, after the historic Jewish community. Soon, portions of eastern Van Nuys, which had already lost its southernmost tracts to Sherman Oaks, joined them.

In 2004, the city ratified the change, making Valley Glen one of the city’s newest neighborhoods.

Trendy shops and restaurants line Lankershim Boulevard near Valley Glen along a stretch of the NoHo Arts District.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Neighborhood highlights

The Great Wall of Los Angeles: This 2,700-foot long mural in the Tujunga Wash, which depicts scenes from California history, is one of the longest in the world.

Higher education: LAVC is a true community college, boasting an art gallery, a theater complex, and a museum dedicated to the history of the Valley.

NoHo redux: The neighborhood’s proximity to upcoming retail mega development NoHo West means the shopping is about to get a whole lot better in Valley Glen.

Neighborhood challenges

A work in progress: Valley Glen’s relatively short history as an independent neighborhood hasn’t produced a unique, definable character for the area as of yet.

Expert insight

Chrishell Stause, a Realtor with John Aaroe Group, recently purchased a house in Valley Glen. She said the neighborhood, after flying under the radar for years, is “really starting to take off,” with new home construction, restaurants and retailers on the way.

“Everything that was old is being turned around, renovated and re-leased,” she said. “You can see the whole area going up.”

She predicted Valley Glen’s trajectory would be like that of Sherman Oaks, which started off sleepy before becoming a popular Valley neighborhood.

With inventory in Valley Glen low, there’s not a lot of room for negotiation for home buyers, particularly when it comes to brand-new homes, Stause cautioned.

Los Angeles Valley College, founded in 1949 in Van Nuys, moved to its current location in what is now Valley Glen in 1951. The community's name was ratified by the city in 2004. Above, Valley College geography instructor Don Gauthier teaches a class in 2010.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Market snapshot

In the 91401 ZIP Code, based on 22 sales, the median sales price for single-family homes in April was $755,000, according to CoreLogic. That was a 5.6% increase in median price compared with the same month the previous year.

Report card

Public schools within the boundaries of Valley Glen include John B. Monlux Elementary, which scored 827 out of 1,000 in the 2013 Academic Performance Index.

Coldwater Canyon Elementary had a score of 824 and Kittridge Street Elementary scored 810. James Madison Middle scored 737 and Ulysses S. Grant Senior High had a score of 704.


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