A person living in Burbank at the beginning of the 20th...

March 05, 2003

A person living in Burbank at the beginning of the 20th century would

hardly recognize the massive residential and business sprawl the city

has become. A rural town of farms, ranches and small businesses has

transformed itself into a successful contemporary city, dropping most

of its rural ways. The business community of Burbank's early years

laid the foundation for the growth that Burbank has experienced.

The heart of Burbank's oldest business district was at the corner


of San Fernando Road and Olive Avenue. Burbank's first brick building

was constructed there in 1887 to satisfy the small population's

commercial needs. The Burbank Villa (now the site of the Olive Avenue

Post Office) was also constructed in 1887 at a cost of $30,000. The

Providencia Land, Water and Development Company was heavily promoting

the area to real-estate speculators and new residents. Its efforts

had limited success and were subjected to the ups and downs of the

nation's unstable economy of the time.

Burbank's business community was well on its feet by the early

1900s, though. Although Burbank's population was fewer than 500 in

1908, several businesses were well established and enjoying financial

success. The Randisi Winery, at 701 Eaton Drive, was prospering and

employed many Burbankers. Burbank State Bank, the city's first bank,

opened April 1, 1908, at the corner of Olive Avenue and San Fernando

Road. It received deposits of $30,000 on the first day! The Burbank

Daily Review made its debut July 9, 1908 -- the first time Burbank

had a local newspaper since 1889. By 1911, the year Burbank was

incorporated as a city, its business district consisted of a hardware

store, livery stable, dry-goods store, general store, bank and a

bicycle repair store, as well as several real-estate offices.

Evidence of Burbank's transformation from rural town to city was

evident in Burbank's business district by 1916. San Fernando Road,

near Angeleno Avenue, supported several businesses, including a

Goodrich Tires and the construction of Elizabeth Hotel, which is now

the site of Gordon Biersch. Both businesses reflect the increased

mobility of society of that time. The business district enjoyed

moderate success through most of the decade, but surged in the 1920s.

Burbank had 2,913 people living in 830 homes in 1920. By 1924, the

business district of Burbank was expanding on the west side of San

Fernando Road and stretched from Verdugo to Cypress avenues, and on

the east side to Palm Avenue. Once again, developers took advantage

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