Photo of the city of Tarzana from Life After People.

The Jungle Book Adventure Origins

The neighborhood of Tarzana in California has a history dating back to 1797, when Spanish settlers and missionaries established the San Fernando Mission in the area. After being absorbed by Mexico, the land was later ceded to the United States in 1848, following the Mexican-American War. The area was initially used for large cattle ranches, but later evolved into a large-scale wheat farm operation under the ownership of investors in the 1870s. In 1909, the Los Angeles Suburban Homes Company purchased the area, and LA Times founder and publisher General Harrison Gray Otis invested in the company and personally acquired 550 acres in the center of modern-day Tarzana. In February 1919, Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author of the Tarzan novels, moved to California with his family and purchased Otis’s tract, establishing Tarzana Ranch. He subdivided and sold the land for residential development, with neighboring small farms following suit.

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan. Image from Amazon.

Who is Edgar Rice Burroughs?

Edgar Rice Burroughs had a difficult start to his life and career, experiencing a series of failures in various enterprises before finally finding success as a writer. He attended multiple schools and even enlisted as a private in the military, but was unsuccessful in both. He tried his hand at various jobs such as being a cowboy and a shopkeeper, but none of his own businesses were successful. In 1911, he submitted a novel to a magazine and it was accepted, marking a turning point in his career. The novel, Tarzan of the Apes, became a bestseller and led to a series of successful novels and adaptions in film and television.

Photo of Edgar Rice Burroughs from Freedom From Religion Foundation

Humans of Tarzana

According to the U.S. census of 2000, the population of Tarzana was 35,502. The Los Angeles Times estimated the population to be 37,778 in 2008. The neighborhood had a low population density of 4,038 people per square mile. The racial makeup of the area was mostly white (70.7%), followed by Asian (5%), and black or African American (3.6%). The area was considered moderately diverse by the Los Angeles Times. 35.1% of the population was foreign-born, with Iranian (10.3%) and Russian (9.1%) being the most common ancestries. Iran (24.2%) and Mexico (12.1%) were the most common places of birth among foreign-born residents. The area had a high percentage of divorced residents, as well as a high percentage of military veterans, and residents over the age of 50. The median age was 38 and the median household income in 2008 dollars was $73,195.

In Tarzana, 40.3% of residents over the age of 25 have earned a four-year degree, which is a high percentage compared to the county. The neighborhood has a variety of schools, including public elementary and secondary schools, as well as private schools. Gaspar de Portola Middle School, Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies, Vanalden Avenue Elementary School, Tarzana Elementary School, CHIME Institute’s Schwarzenegger Community School, Wilbur Charter for Enriched Academics, and Nestle Avenue Elementary School are some of the public schools in the area. Zoned high schools serving Tarzana include Birmingham High School in Lake Balboa, Reseda High School, and Taft High School. Lycée International de Los Angeles West Valley Campus is a private school in the area. Additionally, there is a post-secondary school, Columbia College Hollywood, which is a private nonprofit film school on Oxnard Street.

Facade of the Nestle Avenue Charter School. Photo from Nestle Avenue Charter Elementary Website.
Aerial View of Wilbur Charter for Enriched Academics. Photo from SchoolMint.
The Campus of Lycée International de Los Angeles West Valley Campus. Photo from D. Kennedy, Newsweek.

Spots Close to Nature; As How the Ape Man Likes It

The Tarzana Recreation Center features a variety of amenities, including a gymnasium that doubles as an auditorium with a capacity of 600 people. The park also offers barbecue pits, a baseball diamond with lights, outdoor basketball courts with lights, a play area for children, a community room, a gymnasium without weights, picnic tables, and volleyball courts with lights.

The Tarzana Recreation Center. Photo from LA Parks

Additionally, Caballero Canyon, located on the north side of the Santa Monica mountains in Tarzana, offers various trails for hiking, mountain biking and provides beautiful views of the San Fernando Valley. The 3.6 mile loop trail is moderately trafficked and allows dogs on a leash. The trail also leads to the entrance of Topanga State Park and does not require any fees or permits.

The trail of Caballero Canyon. Photo from AllTrails

Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park is a park located in the Tarzana neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. It is named after former Los Angeles City Councilman Marvin Braude and is also known as the Mulholland Gateway Park. The park features hiking trails, picnic areas, and scenic views of the Santa Monica Mountains and the San Fernando Valley. The park is also home to the historic Mulholland Fountain, which was built in the 1920s and is a popular spot for visitors to take photos. The park offers a range of recreational opportunities for visitors, including hiking, picnicking, and bird watching. The park is open to the public and there are no fees or permits required to enter or use the park.

A calming view in Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park. Photo from Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority

Vanalden Cave is a unique sandstone formation located near Tarzana in the Santa Monica Mountains. The cave is easy to hike to and offers a short 0.6-mile round trip hike with 100 feet of elevation change or a longer 1.55-mile round trip hike with 350 feet of elevation change that leads to a nearby vista point. The cave is 25 feet tall, 25 feet wide, and 50 feet deep, with a few holes in the roof that provide natural light to the interior. The walls of the cave are covered in carvings and graffiti and the cave is open to explore. However, Vanalden Cave also has a lot of litter spread on the ground which detracts from the natural feature. After visiting the cave, hikers can continue up Vanalden Trail to reach the vista point that offers a panoramic view of the Santa Monica Mountains.

The Cave of Vanalden. Photo by Josh, California Through My Lens.

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