Sun Valley From Early Days to Today
What is presently Sun Valley was home to native American peoples for millennia before Eighteenth Century Spanish explorers like Gaspar de Portola came to the area in 1769. The expedition out of Mexico resulted in, among other things, the series of missions dot the California landscape. It also included the founding of what is now the city of Los Angeles.
Near the close of the Eighteenth Century, the Spanish crown bestowed grazing rights to a couple of areas close to present day Sun Valley: Rancho Portesuelo and Rancho San Rafael. Other ranchos in the area would also pop up during this period.
The Spanish missionaries hd the task of bringing European ways of life to the native peoples. Those peoples would be the source of much of the work involved in keeping up the mission lands. Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana was founded in 1797 and would its name would become the source of today’s San Fernando Valley.
The area produced many good and products including cattle, wine, fruits such as figs and pomegranates in addition to other produce. All played a role in keeping the missions self-sufficient.
Mexico gained control over California when it gained its independence from Spain in 1821. The oversight of California by the missions was ended by 1828 and the Mexican government made it easier to get land grants. Although there were some attempts to preserve the mission system such as that of Alta California governor Manuel Victoria the Mexican government ultimately prevailed, cracking down on dissenters by 1833 and the mission system was disbanded.
After 1833 the era of the rancho came into being. Landowners such as Don Vincente de la Osa received grants of land. Da La Osa’s 1843 grant became Rancho Providencia located very close to what we now know as Sun Valley.
1833 was not the final rebellion against the Mexican government regarding the missions and in 1845 another arose led by Manual Micheltorena (governor of California) but was quelled by the Mexicans and Pio Pico was installed as the governor of California.
Pio Pico began selling mission lands to individuals in order to raise money prior to the Mexican American War. The result of the war was a victory for the United States and California was surrendered to the United States (represented by John C. Fremont) under the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo). This occurred in 1848.
Very shortly after that the 1849 gold rush was responsible for an explostion in the production of cattle to feed the thousands of hungry miners who came to California in hopes of striking it rich.
California entered the Union as a state in 1850. After this new mail and stagecoach routes were set up which linked Northern and Southern California. Other routes linked areas near Los Angeles such as the one that winded its way through the Cahuenga Pass. Thus the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles became inextricably tied.
California did not suffer like other states during the Civil War, but by 1855 the great cattle boom had ceased. After the war, new private citizen who made their way to California bought former Spanish or Mexican lands. Rancho Providencia was purchased by David Burbank as well as part of Rancho San Rafael. This area became a large cattle ranch.
Today’s sweeping San Fernando Valley is based on the purchase in 1874 of 56,000 acres by Charles Maclay who was a California state senator. It was his goal to lure the Southern Pacific railroad to the area. To that end he created the town of San Fernando. The railroad did arrive shortly after this. With its arrival the modern San Fernando Valley began a period of growth which was shared by the city of Los Angeles.
In the twentieth century more developers, land owners, politiciansa and businessmen came onto the scene. There names are familiar since many streets and localities are named after them. Men such as Chandler, Huntington, Sherman, Otis, Van Nuys made their marks on the Valley. After the turn of the century film production came to Southern California. The familiar red cars of the Pacific Electric Railway serviced a huge area from Ventura County into what is now San Bernardino County.
The people of the San Fernando Valley voted for annexation to the City of Los Angeles in 1915 and the modern San Fernando Valley, part of greater Los Angeles (including Sun Valley) was officially born.