Toluca Lake

Photo of Toluca Lake from Los Angeles Times


Before Europeans arrived in the San Fernando Valley in 1769, the Tongva people had been living in the area surrounding Toluca Lake for 8,000 years. The Tongva village of kah-Ween-gah (Cahuenga) located on the banks of the Los Angeles River had trade connections with other Tongva villages in Southern California. At the time, the Los Angeles River was a thriving ecosystem for fish and game, and the reeds growing along its banks were used to build houses.

An old photo of a Cahuenga Tongva Encampment from The Museum of the San Fernando Valley

In 1887, Charles Forman, who had accumulated a significant amount of wealth in Virginia City, Nevada, purchased the majority of the land that would become Toluca Lake from Lankershim. He built a ranch house on the property northwest of the lake. There is a claim that James B. Lankershim and Isaac Van Nuys, Lankershim’s son and son-in-law, named the property Toluca before selling it to Forman in 1888, but there is skepticism about this claim and no evidence of an ancient village by that name on the spot has been found. The earliest known mention of the name Toluca in relation to the area is in Forman’s application for a post office named Toluca Post Office, which was located in the home of Wilson C. Weddington until he moved it to a store he purchased in 1894.

By 1923, Toluca Lake was thriving with orchards of walnut, apple, and peach. After Charles Forman’s death, his ranch was sold as part of his estate, and a group of investors purchased it with the intention of developing a residential subdivision called Toluca Lake Park. Despite any doubts about the origin of the name, Toluca was already a well-established name for the area. Forman claimed that the word Toluca was a Paiute Indian word meaning “fertile valley” that he had chosen.

The Tenants of the Land

The Toluca Lake neighborhood had a relatively low population density of 6,393 people per square mile, and a high percentage of white residents at 71.9% according to the 2000 census. The median household income was high at $73,111 in 2008 and a majority of residents had a four-year degree. However, the average household size was small and a majority of housing units were occupied by renters. The median age of residents was also older compared to the city and county. Additionally, a low percentage of residents were headed by single parents.

Academics in the Land

A large percentage of Toluca Lake residents in Los Angeles had a four-year degree and a significant number had a master’s degree or higher, according to the 2000 census. The area is split between the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Burbank Unified School District. Schools in Toluca Lake include Toluca Lake Elementary School and Toluca Crossroads School.

Toluca Lake Elementary School is dedicated to providing a diverse range of educational opportunities for its students, helping them to develop and master their academic skills. The school is located in a culturally rich area of North Hollywood, close to Toluca Lake, Universal Studios, the NoHo Arts District, and Burbank. The student body is diverse, representing a variety of backgrounds, cultures, and personalities. The school aims to provide students with the most effective opportunities to develop their unique abilities while teaching and reinforcing academic standards necessary for their future success. The curriculum is designed to go beyond traditional boundaries, exposing students to real-life applications of their skills and knowledge through partnerships with museums and outreach programs, while also nurturing, motivating, inspiring, and challenging students.

Photo of Toluca Lake Elementary School from Google Maps

The school has been serving the communities of Toluca Lake, North Hollywood, Burbank, Studio City, and Sherman Oaks for over 50 years. It strives to create a unique, nurturing and secure environment where creativity, curiosity and self-confidence are encouraged. The experienced and dedicated staff provide individualized care to the children, nurturing their specific learning abilities and promoting critical thinking, strong moral values and character development. The school believes that each child is special and unique, and strives to go above and beyond for every student in its care. The goal of the school is to instill a love of learning and create happy memories for the children, while ensuring they reach their fullest potential and have a strong foundation for their future academic success.

Photo of Toluca Crossroads School from Google Maps

Humble Attractions in the Land

Bob’s restaurant, built in 1949 by Scott MacDonald and Ward Albert, is the oldest remaining Bob’s Big Boy in America. The design of the restaurant was done by renowned architect Wayne McAllister, featuring a blend of 1940s streamline modern style and 1950s coffee shop architecture. The restaurant’s iconic tall sign is an important aspect of the building’s design. It was honored with the “Point of Historical Interest” designation by California. The MacDonald family took ownership of the restaurant in 1993 and have since restored it to its former glory by adding a patio, rehabilitating the sign, remodeling the dining room, reintroducing “Car Hop” service on weekends, and hosting a classic car show on Friday nights. They have also invested in improving the food, service, and overall experience to make your meal at Bob’s a truly memorable one. Restaurants New and Old Around Toluca Lake Part 3 – Tammy Jerome and  Associates

Photo of the Famous Bob’s Big Boy from Tammy Jerome

If you’re one of them people that enjoy strolling around and window-shopping, then RiverSide Drive is the place to be. This street/drive offers a lot of shopping options while at the same time has a pleasing and walkable scene.

Photo of Riverside Drive from Google Maps

The Garry Marshall Theatre is located at the intersection of Burbank’s Media district and the village of Toluca Lake. Originally known as the Falcon Theatre, it broke ground in 1995. After 20 years of funding by Garry Marshall, the theatre is now sustained by donor support. As a nonprofit organization, the Garry Marshall Theatre actively works to enhance the Los Angeles community by presenting live arts experiences, developing artists, and introducing young people to the impact of live storytelling and entertainment.

Photo of the theatre from Toluca Lake Magazine

Priscilla’s Coffee Shop, which opened in the early 1970s in a converted 1919 brick gas station, is a gourmet coffee and tea shop that moved to a larger location in 1993. In addition to coffee and tea, the shop also serves pastries, sandwiches and other food items, as well as gifts and gift baskets. The new location has plenty of seating and wireless internet access.

Photo of Priscilla’s Coffee from Woodbury University

Lastly, if you want to have a chill night (or afternoon or any time of the day!), then go visit Forman’s Whiskey Tavern in Riverside Drive. Their Happy Hour is from 3pm to 6pm, M-F. You can get select wines, cocktails, and drafts for only $7!

Photo of the Forman’s Whiskey Tavern from Thrillist

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