Woodland Hills

Panoramic view of Woodland Hills from Discover L.A.

The Humble Beginnings of the Woodlands

Woodland Hills is a neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles, California. It is located in the southwestern San Fernando Valley, and is known for its large, upscale homes and its proximity to the Santa Monica Mountains. The area is also home to the Warner Center, a business and shopping district, as well as the Westfield Topanga shopping center. Woodland Hills is considered a highly desirable area to live, and has a relatively low crime rate compared to other parts of the city. It is mostly a residential area with some commercial development.

Photo of the Santa Monica Mountains from Visit California

A thousand years before Julius Caesar set foot in Rome, the Tongva people indigenous to the Woodland Hills area were enjoying beautiful views from the top of Topanga Canyon and living in the same balmy Mediterranean climate we do today. For millennia the native population thrived on fish and small game, growing to an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 by the time the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel was established in 1771. But 220 years later the Tongva stood at the brink of extinction, ravaged by smallpox, measles, and other Old World diseases that killed 95% of their people.

The Tongva People. Image from Pasadena Now

The area that was to become Woodland Hills was dry and largely unpopulated in 1900, though limited portions of the land were being farmed for citrus, walnuts, and wheat. Water remained a major issue: either there was not enough to support residential development, or too much of it due to flash flooding during the Southland’s torrential rains in winter. Completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913 by William Mulholland solved the shortage of water by building an aqueduct from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles. News of a steady supply of water newly available in the Valley attracted homesteaders from across the United States. The news also caught the attention of Victor Girard (originally named Victor Girard Kleinberger), a Persian-rug salesman from Kentucky. Girard purchased 2,886 acres of land in the southwest corner of the San Fernando Valley in 1922, then subdivided the land into tiny lots, 6,826 of them. After building two Turkish mosque-inspired buildings and towers on Ventura Blvd., one on each side of Topanga Canyon Blvd., early in February 1923 Girard held the Grand Opening of his new town, “Girard.”

Portrait photo of Victor Girard from Find a Grave

During this period he planted 120,000 eucalyptus, pepper, and other shade trees throughout the area. Girard provided free transportation for prospective buyers from downtown Los Angeles, with his “sucker busses” driving to Santa Monica and up the coast to Topanga Canyon before turning inland to his sales center on the corners of Ventura and Topanga Canyon Blvds. Visitors arrived to see two exotic-looking ‘mosques,’ each with its own minaret looming over the landscape like a lighthouse. Stretching eastward toward Don Pio Drive was a long, single story building that appeared to house thriving businesses but in fact was nothing more than a façade of theatrical scenery designed to deceive.

After Girard’s complimentary barbecue lunch, prospects met his aggressive team of commission-based salesmen, who worked hard to sell his lots. For sale were those undersized lots of undeveloped land—the more attractive of which were, according to some accounts, sometimes sold and resold multiple times to unsuspecting buyers. Nevertheless, thousands of parcels were sold as the population began to grow. Girard’s success began to fade, beginning with a brush fire in 1927 that burned the Girard Golf Clubhouse to the ground.

Woodland Hills Demographics and Education

According to the United States Census Bureau, as of 2020, the population of Woodland Hills is approximately 63,000. The population is diverse, with a majority of white residents (54.4%), followed by Asian (18.4%), African American (6.9%), and Hispanic or Latino residents (15.2%). The median age is around 42 years old and the median household income is $81,000. The majority of the population is well-educated, with a high percentage of residents having a bachelor’s degree or higher. Woodland Hills is a relatively affluent area and home to many high-income families.

In terms of demographics, Woodland Hills is one of the least dense neighborhoods in Los Angeles, with a high percentage of white residents for the county. The percentage of residents 25 and older with four-year college degrees is 47.0%, which is high for both the city and the county. Additionally, the percentage of veterans, 10.7% of the population, is high for the city of Los Angeles and high for the county overall. The percentage of veterans who served during World War II or Korea is also among the county’s highest. According to the 2008 Los Angeles Times’s “Mapping L.A.” project, the population of Woodland Hills was 59,661 and the median household income was $93,720, both of which were considered high for the city of Los Angeles and the county.

In Woodland Hills, public schools are under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Unified School District and are primarily located in Board District 4. The area has several elementary schools, including Calabash Street Elementary School, Lockhurst Elementary School, Serrania Elementary School, Woodlake Avenue Elementary School, Woodland Hills Charter for Enriched Studies and Ivy Academia Entrepreneurial Charter School. Middle schools in the area include Woodland Hills Charter Academy (formerly known as Parkman Middle School) and George Ellery Hale Charter Academy. High schools include El Camino Real High School, William Howard Taft High School, and Henry David Thoreau Continuation High School. There is also an adult school in the area, the West Valley Occupational Center, located at 6200 Winnetka Avenue.

The Calabash Street Elementary School. Photo from SchoolMint
Lockhurst Elementary School. Photo from Patch
Facade of the Welby way elementary Charter School. Photo from SchoolMint

Places to Visit: From Trails to Museums to Shopping Centers

Malibu Creek State Park is a state park located in the Santa Monica Mountains in California. The park covers over 8,000 acres and is known for its diverse natural beauty and recreational opportunities. The park is home to a variety of plant and animal life, including oak groves, sycamore and willow trees, and over 90 bird species. The park is also home to a number of hiking trails, including the popular Malibu Creek State Park Trail, which offers scenic views of the park’s natural wonders.

Photograph of Malibu Creek State Park from Los Angeles Times

Kokoro Exhibits is a company that specializes in creating museum-quality animatronics, and has been a leader in the U.S. traveling exhibit market for over 30 years. They offer a wide range of interactive exhibits, such as remotely controlled dinosaurs and rideable sculptures, which are designed to educate and entertain audiences. Their exhibits are scientifically accurate and are researched and designed in collaboration with renowned paleontologists and entomologists. They have a strong reputation and established relationships with exhibitors from various industries such as museums, aquariums, zoos, botanical gardens, malls, fairs, and amusement parks. Their exhibits are known for breaking attendance records and boosting admission, membership, and gift shop sales. They have a wide range of exhibits available with over 100 animatronic creatures and custom designed exhibit packages. The average show schedule is three months but can be adjusted to accommodate longer or shorter shows as needed. They are able to occupy spaces ranging from 400 to over 15,000 square feet. They offer an exciting experience with their animatronics that have captured the imagination of audiences for decades.

One of Kokoro Exhibits installations. Photo from Kokoro Exhibits Facebook Page

Runyon Canyon Park is a 160-acre city park located in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, California. The park is a popular destination for hiking, with several trails that offer scenic views of the city and the surrounding area. The park is known for its natural beauty, and features a diverse array of plant and animal life, including chaparral, sagebrush, and wildflowers. The park has several trails that vary in difficulty, including the Fuller Avenue Trail, the Indian Canyon Trail, and the Runyon Canyon Trail. The park’s trails are well-maintained and offer a range of hiking experiences, from easy to moderate, and some trails are steep. The park also has several scenic overlooks, such as the Hollywood sign overlook, where visitors can take in views of the famous Hollywood sign.

Photo of the Runyon Canyon Park trail from the HikingGuy

Warner Center is a neighborhood and business district in Woodland Hills, California. It is located in the west-central San Fernando Valley, and is known for its large office buildings, shopping centers, and high-rise residential buildings. The area is also home to several hotels and several parks. The area is considered one of the most important business centers in the San Fernando Valley.

Warner Center is home to several major office buildings, including the Warner Center Business Park, which is home to several corporate offices, as well as the headquarters of several major companies. The area is also home to several shopping centers, such as the Westfield Promenade, which features several popular retailers and restaurants.

In addition to its business and shopping centers, Warner Center is home to several parks, including the Warner Ranch Park, which features several sports fields, playgrounds and picnic areas, and the Woodland Hills Recreation Center, which offers several recreational activities, including swimming, tennis and basketball.

Warner Center is also known for its high-rise residential buildings, including the Warner Center Towers and the Park Place Condominiums, which offer luxury living with views of the surrounding area. The area is served by the Orange Line of the Los Angeles Metro, which provides access to downtown Los Angeles and other parts of the city.

Building of the Warner Center. Photo from LoopNet

Westfield Topanga is a shopping mall located in Woodland Hills, California. It is one of the largest malls in the San Fernando Valley, and features a wide range of retailers, including department stores, fashion and specialty stores, and restaurants. The mall is anchored by major retailers such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Macy’s, along with several other department stores and retailers.

Westfield Topanga mall has a wide range of options for shoppers with more than 250 stores, several dining options and entertainment options such as a cinema, bowling alley, and a comedy club. The mall also features a number of events and activities throughout the year, including holiday events, children’s activities and live music performances.

The mall features several popular fashion retailers, including H&M, Zara, and Forever 21, as well as a number of specialty stores and boutiques. Additionally, it has a large food court and several sit-down restaurants, including California Pizza Kitchen, The Cheesecake Factory, and P.F. Chang’s.

Westfield Topanga mall is easily accessible by car and public transportation, with plenty of parking available. The mall is located at 6600 Topanga Canyon Blvd, Woodland Hills, CA 91367 and it is open from Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 9 pm and on Sundays from 11 am to 8 pm.

Photo of the very active Westfield Topanga from Architects Orange

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