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Originally named Zelzah, the community was renamed North Los Angeles in 1929 to emphasize its closeness to the booming city. This created confusion with Los Angeles and North Hollywood. At the suggestion of a civic leader, the community was renamed Northridge in 1938. Northridge can trace its history back to the Gabrielino (or Tongva) people and to Spanish explorers. Its territory was later sold by the Mexican governor to Eulogio de Celis, whose heirs divided it for sale.
The 2000 U.S. census counted 57,561 residents in the 9.47-square-mile (24.5 km2) Northridge neighborhood--or 6,080 people per square mile (2,350/km2), among the lowest population densities for the city. In 2008, the city estimated that the population had increased to 61,993. In 2000 the median age for residents was 32, about average for city and county neighborhoods; the percentage of residents aged 19 to 34 was among the county's highest.
The neighborhood was considered "highly diverse" ethnically within Los Angeles, with a high percentage of Asian people. The breakdown was whites, 49.5%; Latinos, 26.1%; Asians, 14.5%; blacks, 5.4%; and others, 4.6%. Mexico (24.7%) and the Philippines (9.8%) were the most common places of birth for the 31.8% of the residents who were born abroad--an average figure for Los Angeles.
The median yearly household income in 2008 dollars was $67,906, considered high for the city. Renters occupied 46.4% of the housing stock, and house- or apartment-owners held 53.6%. The average household size of 2.7 people was considered average for Los Angeles.
In 2000 there were 3,803 military veterans, or 8.5% of the population, a high percentage compared to the rest of the city.
Northridge neighborhood as delineated by the Los Angeles Times
The area now called Northridge was first inhabited about 2,000 years ago by the Native American Gabrielino (or Tongva) people. Among their tribal villages Totonga was nearby Northridge. The Gabrielino-Tongva people, who lived in dome-shaped houses, are sometimes referred to as the "people of the earth". They spoke a TakicUto-Aztecan (Shoshonean) language. Their pictographs are very hard to find nowadays, and those not public, nor protected, many destroyed by the development of Greater Los Angeles; there are no public rock art sites in Los Angeles County. A replica can be seen at The Southwest Museum and there are archeological exhibits at Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Rancho Los Alamitos, Louis Robidoux Nature Center and El Dorado Nature Center.
Mexican land grant
In the late-1840s, Mexican Governor Pio Pico broke with the tradition of "granting" land and, instead, sold it, without the usual area limitations, to Eulogio de Celis, a native of Spain. By 1850, de Celis was listed in the Los Angeles Census as an agriculturist, 42 years old, and the owner of a real estate worth $20,000.
A few years later, the land was split up. The heirs of Eulogio de Celis sold the northernly half - 56,000 acres (230 km2) - to Senator George K. Porter, who had called it the "Valley of the Cumberland" and Senator Charles Maclay, who exclaimed: "This is the Garden of Eden." Porter was interested in ranching; Maclay in subdivision and colonization. Francis Marion ("Bud") Wright, an Iowa farm boy who migrated to California as a young man, became a ranch hand for Senator Porter and later co-developer of the 1,100-acre (4.5 km2) Hawk Ranch, which is now Northridge land.
Growth and metamorphosis
In 1951, a local reporter reported that Northridge's population had reached 5,500 residents, an increase of 1,000 people from 1950. In addition, it was around this time that Reseda Boulevard had been paved at its full width and become the main business street of boulevard proportions. The need also arose for Northridge to accommodate the new population, so in 1954 the first middle school opened in the rapidly growing town. Northridge Junior High School, later known as Northridge Middle School, opened with 1,000 students who had been brought all the way from Fulton Middle School in Van Nuys.
Thirty-four percent of Northridge residents aged 25 and older had earned a four-year degree by 2000, an average percentage for the city but high for the county. The percentages of the same-age residents with a bachelor's degree and a master's degree or higher were high for the county.
Primary and secondary schools
Northridge Academy High School
In 1962, Nobel Junior High School in Northridge became the first air-conditioned school in the Los Angeles school district.
In 1982 the board considered closing Prairie Street Elementary School in Northridge. It was located on the California State University, Northridge campus, and that university used Prairie as a laboratory school. In April 1983 an advisory committee of the LAUSD recommended closing eight LAUSD schools, including Prairie Street School. In August 1983 the board publicly considered closing Prairie, which had 280 students at the time. In 1984 the board voted to close the Prairie Street School. In 1985 some parents were trying to have Prairie Street School re-opened.
Secondary and lower-grade schools within the Northridge boundaries are:
CSUN had its beginnings as a college on Nordhoff Street and Etiwanda Avenue and officially opened in 1956 as "San Fernando Valley Campus of Los Angeles State College of Applied Arts and Sciences." Two years later it separated from its parent and became "San Fernando Valley State College." By the early 1970s, however, this institution became known as "California State University, Northridge." By fall of 2016, CSUN had reached enrollment of almost 40,000 students.
A 2004 study revealed that CSUN is a major contributor to the local economy: between $663 million and $686 million annually. Additionally, CSUN employs 5,800 people directly through the university and adds another 5,700 to 6,000 jobs into the local economy.
Motion pictures and television
Silent star Janet Gaynor and her costume-designer husband Adrian were the first owners of a spacious estate in Northridge, which was later sold to Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Taylor. Later, actor Jack Oakie owned the property and lived on it. The Oakie house was set for the wrecking ball, but in 2010 the city agreed to buy the Tudor-style stone landmark and its 10-acre (40,000 m2) ranch estate.
Mrs. Zeppo Marx and Barbara Stanwyck started Marwyck Ranch as a horse breeding farm. Northridge was known as the "Horse Capital of the West," with regular Sunday horse shows, annual stampedes, and country fairs.
In the late 1960s, Devonshire Downs was the site of two major rock music festivals. The little-known two-day 1967 Fantasy Faire and Magic Music Festival (at "Devonshire Meadows") featured The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe and the Fish, The Grass Roots, Canned Heat, Iron Butterfly and several other bands. The better-known but confusingly named 1969 Newport Pop Festival was a massive three-day event that featured Jimi Hendrix and many other top acts. It took place in June and was briefly the largest music festival ever held before losing that distinction to Woodstock the following August. Like its famous successor, it had problems with large numbers of gate-crashers, and some young attendees far from home camped out nearby in sleeping bags. Unlike Woodstock, "nearby" included parts of suburban Northridge, where most of the local residents were horrified to find their neighborhoods invaded by "hippies". A ban on rock music festivals soon followed.
The 1994 Northridge earthquake was named for Northridge based on early estimates of the location of the quake's epicenter; however, further refinements showed it to be technically in neighboring Reseda. The earthquake, which occurred on a blind thrust fault, was one of the strongest ground motions ever recorded in North America. Freeways collapsed, and many buildings suffered irreparable damages. Vertical and horizontal accelerations lifted structures off their foundations. During the 1994 quake, the Northridge Hospital Medical Center remained open and treated more than 1,000 patients who came to the facility during the first few days after the 6.7-magnitude quake.
This was the second time in 23 years that the area had been affected by a strong earthquake. On February 9, 1971 the San Fernando earthquake (also known as the Sylmar earthquake) struck, having a magnitude of 6.5.
Northridge Hospital Medical Center consists of a 411-bed hospital and serves 2 million residents of the Valley. The hospital is one of only two facilities in the Valley certified as a trauma center for treating life-threatening injuries.
Parks, recreation and sports
The Recreation Center is located in Northridge. It has an indoor gymnasium, without weights, which may also be used as an auditorium. Its capacity is 400. Doc Green is the commissioner of the youth sports leagues at Northridge Recreation Center. The park also has barbecue pits, a lighted baseball diamond, lighted indoor basketball courts, lighted outdoor basketball courts, a children's play area, a community room, picnic tables, a lighted soccer field, and lighted tennis courts. The Northridge Pool, on the recreation center grounds, is an outdoor heated seasonal pool.
Dearborn Park is located in Northridge. The unstaffed, unlocked park has lighted outdoor basketball courts, a children's play area, picnic tables, and lighted tennis courts. Vanalden Park, an unstaffed pocket park, has a horseshoe pit, a jogging path, and picnic tables.