While I was driving the streets of Toluca Lake, I stopped at the Toluca Lake Farmers Market. The market is open Sunday from 9:30-2:30pm. The market vendors have been there since 2006, providing everything from organic fruit, cobblers, tamales and a selection of handmade jewelry and craft items.
I wonder if Actress Hillary Swank, who portrays Amelia Earhart in the upcoming film about the Earhart’s life, knows that Amelia lived in Toluca Lake on Valley Spring Lane after marrying flamboyant publishing magnate George Palmer Putman in 1931. The Spanish colonial-style home, which still exists today, features a front-yard tree under which she signed her round-the-world flight plan. Amelia made her home in Toluca Lake because the aircrafts were being designed and built nearby at the Lockheed plant in Burbank.
Toluca Lake became home to screen stars – Zazu Pitts, Mary Astor, Richard Arlen, Ruby Keeler and W.C. Fields. It was where Bob Hope and his buddy Bing Crosby decided to make their home. It was not long before motion picture stars came building and purchasing homes in Toluca Lake. Bob Hope lived with his wife Dolores at the home they built in the late 1930’s until his death in 2003 at the age of 100. Dolores Hope still maintains residence at their estate on Moorpark. She just celebrated her 100th birthday. In part three of “Toluca Lake,” I am going celebrate the life of Dolores Hope.
I am told that Rudy Vallee, Dorothy Lamour, Gene Autry, Audie Murphy, Doris Day, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, Tex Ritter, Dand Andrews, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Sandra Dee, Andy Griffith, Red Foxx, Fabian, Frankie Avalon, Jim Nabors, Ron Howard, Jonathan Winters, Donny and Marie Osmond, were all once residents of Toluca Lake. (It is believed that Miley Cirus, Denzel Washington and Demi Lovato are currently in residence in Toluca Lake.)
Former President Ronald Reagan had his wedding reception with second wife Nancy Davis at the Toluca Lake home of actor (and best man) William Holden on March 4, 1952.
I love the history that has been preserved in Toluca Lake. On April 7, 2009, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, and city councilmember Tom LaBonge, welcomed members of the community to the Campo de Cahuenga to celebrate the hew historical re-creation of the original foundations discovered at the site. In the process of the construction for MTA Red line, the original foundations of Campo de Cahuenga were unearthed exactly where they were believed to be. After extensive study of the ruins, the area was entombed for future generations, and a faithful re-creation was constructed using period materials on the Campo site. Each day, thousands of people drive by the Campo de Cahuenga site without realizing that they are passing one of the most historical sites in the United States. It was at Campo de Cahuenga on January 13, 1847 that John C. Fremont, representing the United States, and General Andres Pico, representing the Mexican forces, signed a military treaty of capitulation by which California became part of the United States. The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in 1848 transferring the nearly half a million square miles of territory (an area larger than the original 13 colonies) to the United States. The treaty of Campo de Cahuenga, which was translated into English and Spanish by Jose Antonio Carrillo, acquired the lands that would ultimately become the states of California, Nevada, Utah, most of Arizona, Wyoming, New Mexico and a portion of Colorado.
Everything seems to be quaint and memorable in Toluca Lake, and if local residents and Roy Disney Jr., the nephew of the late Walt Disney, have their way, it will stay that way. Toluca Lake homeowner groups have begun mobilizing against a proposed development in North Hollywood by NBC Universal Properties Group. The Metro Studio Project involves upwards of 1,000,000 feet of space, and would house employees leaving NBC’s Burbank facility. The project also proposes a Times Square-style super graphics and digital illuminated billboards. It would be built partly on land which NBC Universal has a lease agreement from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The current recession has delayed the projects indefinitely. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has not finalized the project. I certainly hope that never happens, as it would ruin the village atmosphere of Toluca Lake forever.
Across from Warner Brothers is the famed Smoke House Restaurant that has been there for more than 55 years. A Smoke House brunch is not to be missed.
Toluca Lake is the city of many FIRSTS. The first International House of Pancakes opened in Toluca Lake in 1958. The first condominium complex was built in Toluca Lake at 19470 Riverside Drive in 1974.
TO BE CONTINUED… In Part 3 of this series I will be talking with the honorary mayor of Toluca Lake NBC weatherman Fritz Coleman.