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City unearths history

Mayor helps dig up a 50-year-old lead tube containing images of Burbank.

February 07, 2009|By Tom Risen

Stan Lynch had a day off from school Feb. 5, 1959, and witnessed then-Mayor H.B. Jerry Bank install a time capsule behind a plaque on the newly built bridge on Magnolia Boulevard.

Lynch sat at the same site Thursday with his son Stephen Lynch and Mayor Dave Golonski to unearth a piece of history: a 50-year- old silver-plated lead tube containing images of Burbank buildings and golf courses from a bygone era. To the side of a closed-off lane on the Magnolia bridge, city officials gathered with a crowd of photographers to delicately extract the capsule from the concrete with a hammer and pick.

“It’s a good thing nobody ran into the bridge,” Lynch said as he and Golonski unearthed the capsule, hidden behind a plaque. “I feel vindicated because for years I would pass by here and tell my friends, ‘There’s a time capsule hidden behind that,’ and they’d all think I was crazy.”

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The council was inspired to unearth the capsule after Larry Harnisch, who writes for the Los Angeles Times history blog, the Daily Mirror, found 50-year-old articles that commemorated the time capsule burial. The time capsule, according to the articles, was intended to be unearthed at precisely 11 a.m. Feb. 5, 2009.

Now in the possession of Deputy City Manager Joy Forbes, the capsule will be given to Warner Bros. for safe development of the historic archive.

“Because we know it contains film, we hope they can help us salvage it in case there’s been any damage,” Forbes said. “We should have some photos at the end of the month.”

While the economy has changed after 50 years, Burbank’s population has stayed around 100,000 residents. The capsule predicted Burbank of 2009 would have 150,000 inhabitants, nuclear power and a monorail, according to a 1959 article of the Los Angeles Times.

“The city really, as far as having a small-town feel, I don’t think has changed,” Lynch said. “The old buildings disappeared and got replaced by new stuff. Behind the bridge was the ‘99 building’ of offices, and they tore that down. Now it’s a Circuit City, and they might tear that down now too.”

There were already film studios in 1950s Burbank, but the shutdown of Lockheed’s manufacturing plants by the end of the 1980s has changed the city the most, Lynch said.

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