Woodland Hills

Little is known about the Chumash Indians, who were this community's earliest settlers. When the first white men rode in with the Portola Expedition in 1769 to explore the beautiful hills and valleys, they encountered the Indians and called the area the Valley of the Oaks.

It was in this area, now named Woodland Hills, that the treaty was signed to end the Mexican War. This cleared the way for California to be admitted to the union in 1850 as the 31st state.

When Victor Girard Kleinberger first laid eyes on the rolling grasslands with pools of water, he called it the " dream city." A visionary and entrepreneur, he foresaw a large population and a thriving economy in the town he named Girard, as he later came to call himself.

Girard was an ambitious man who had a penchant for deceit. In 1922, Girard and Boulevard Land Company purchased 2,886 acres, which was subdivided into 6,000 lots. Girard sold thousands of small lots to families in a farming area where 80 acre parcels had more typically been sold.

To expedite land sales in his new town in 1923, Girard erected gates, a mosque tower, and a business district with rows of stones with false fronts to convey the impression of a flourishing economy.

Later, in an attempt to hold off bankruptcy and his creditors, Girard attached liens to all the property he sold without informing the buyers!

In spite of his unscrupulous methods, Girard believed in the town and the land, and his plan worked. His advertisements in the newspaper did, in fact, attract new residents and businesses, and a great deal of new construction was initiated.

He beautified the area by importing and planting more than 120,000 eucalyptus, sycamore, fir, pine and pepper trees. Years later, as the trees grew, it was appropriate to change the town's name to Woodland Hills.

With the country in the throes of the Depression, Girard's " super community" crumbled. Despite the forlorn economic state of Woodland Hills, in which only 75 families remained, the town survived. Large family landholders moved in, including Harry Warner of Warner Brothers Pictures.

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