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The San Fernando Valley, once home to indigenous people, became an ever changing fabric since the colonization by Spain. With the establishment of the mission, Mission San Fernando Rey, the Valley was turned into a high production site for crops and livestock. Food and animal hides produced by the natives were traded with El Pueblo and the north. The Valley’s fertile land made it an agricultural acropolis, making it the main source of income for the area until the early 20th century. The agricultural industry soon grew into a production industry with the introduction of canneries and wheat processing plants. Food production companies such as olive oil canneries, fruit and other food packaging plants as well as wineries, created hundreds of jobs to locals.

Agricultural Fabric

Simultaneously, developers found an interest in the San Fernando Valley, acquiring large plots of land subdividing and developing them further. Wealthy families purchased newly subdivided land investing in the agricultural industry. With the introduction of the railroad soon after, southern California became more accessible to the north and east. The fertile lands and abundant land started to attract easterners in hopes to capitalize on the booming agricultural and production industries. This large movement westward led to the further subdivision of the valley.

By the 1900s the valley had changed completely. Sprawl was already apparent, and the agricultural industry was falling more and more by the way side. Single family homes grew more attractive to locals bringing about a great need for fast construction of homes. Soon following, WWII began calling on a large need for the production of airplanes and artillery. The Valley saw an increase of industrial production with the new aerospace industry, starting the transition of the Valley as an agricultural producer to a large scale industrial site.

Lockheed Assembly lineStandardized Construction

In the post WWII years, immigration to the Valley grew, increasing the population in Los Angeles from 4 million to 8 million. Defense contractors, no longer needing to produce airplanes, began to mass produce standardized housing for the growing population. With the move into the suburbs, automobiles became more preferred. The working-class began to buy cars as they became more affordable and convenient. Consequently, a large shift occurred from public transit to the private car. Due to high demand of the car and large amounts of affordable land, GM found it more affordable to move to the west. GM opened a large manufacturing company in Van Nuys in 1945. General Motors and the aerospace industries together, completed the turnover of the valley as an agricultural acropolis to a large-scale industrial manufacturing plant.

GM factory in Van Nuys

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