OAKRIDGE

Aug. 2nd, 2007 02:13 pm
davecobb: (Default)
The San Fernando Valley here in Los Angeles -- where I live, where I grew up -- has a unique feel to it, some would say sprawling and overdeveloped. Not an incorrect description, mind you -- but I have always been fascinated by the remnants of the Valley's "rural" origins that managed to survive the times -- the sprawling ranches in Van Nuys or along Chandler Blvd., the unmistakable smell of Pierce College (aka "Moo U"), the horse trails and equestrian center in Burbank, right alongside the sprawl of the 134 freeway and the "media gulch" of Riverside Drive.

While the Valley has been mostly strip-malls, apartment buildings and freeways in my lifetime, there was always this feel that it used to be something else. You could always sense its agricultural roots, that most of it used to be vast citrus groves and farmland. I had friends when I was growing up who lived in some of those huge ranch houses, left over from the the 1930s and 40s, when Hollywood's elite would cultivate the "California Lifestyle" by building huge estates on massive tracts of then-inexpensive land. A privileged life, for sure -- but it always seemed like they were casual retreats, not stuffy formal castles.

I always wondered what it would have been like to live in that kind of semi-rural bliss, with the bustle of Hollywood and Downtown LA only a short drive away. I guess that's always been the myth/dream of Los Angeles -- on the surface, it's a big overdeveloped city, but underneath there's this odd yearning for connecting to the "outdoorness" of its climate and locale.

I was thinking about all of this today because of this LA Times article, which I saw cross-posted in the LJ Los Angeles community, regarding the pending sale of the historic Oakridge Estate in Northridge. Let's hope the city wins the battle and a small sliver of the Valley's once-sprawling heritage can be preserved.

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