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Moreland trucks drove Burbank growth

February 04, 2004

CRAIG BULLOCK

The transformation of Burbank from rural town to manufacturing center

was a brought on by the growth of the region and some clever

marketing by some creative Burbankers looking to secure the economic

success of the city. The arrival of the Moreland Motor Truck Company

in Burbank proved to the opening of the manufacturing era in the

city.

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In 1917, Watt Moreland, head of the Moreland Motor Truck Company,

planned to open a new truck manufacturing plant in the Los Angeles

area. He had selected Alhambra as the site of his new plant, and

began negotiating with the city for the purchase of the land. Ralph

O. Church, an early Burbank activist who led the successful drive to

bring the Pacific Electric Car to Burbank, read of Moreland's move to

Los Angeles in the newspaper and had other ideas about where the

manufacturing plant should be located.

Church knew time was of the essence, and he enlisted fellow

Burbank activist Maurice Spazier to help him convince Moreland that

Burbank -- not Alhambra -- was a better site to build the

manufacturing plant. Church and Spazier captured Moreland's attention

by offering a suitable site for the plant at no cost. Moreland, not

wanting to pass on such an opportunity, stalled negotiations with

Alhambra and began to scout Burbank for a suitable site.

The first site explored by Moreland was on the corner of Flower

and Verdugo avenues. This site, however, proved to be unsuitable. The

most suitable site for the manufacturing plant turned out to be on

the corner of San Fernando Road and Alameda Avenue. The parcel was

owned by Henry Luttge, who sold the 25-acre parcel for $25,000.

Church and Spazier spearheaded the efforts to raise the money, and

deeded the property to Moreland. The manufacturing plant, along with

its good-paying manufacturing jobs, was to become a reality in

Burbank.

Construction on the $2-million plant commenced immediately, and

the plant opened in March of 1920. It was one of the largest

developments in the region and the largest in Burbank at the time.

The manufacturing plant was immense and efficiently designed, and

sprawled over the entire 25-acre parcel. The administration building

contained the general offices, kitchens, cafeteria, assembly and club

rooms along with the engineering department. The manufacturing

buildings boasted nearly 50% windows to allow proper ventilation, as

well as lighting, to create a clean and safe working environment.

Those buildings were used for the testing, manufacturing, painting

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