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Having moved to Los Angeles for health reasons, Isaac Newton Van Nuys (1835-1923), the son of Dutch farmers in New York State, joined his partner, Isaac Lankershim in the San Fernando Valley. Lankershim had purchased the southern 60,000 acres of the Valley for $115,000; together with Lankershim´s son, they created a wheat farming empire. Van Nuys built and lived in the first wood frame ranch in the Valley (near Van Nuys Airport), then known as the Home Ranch. Hesoon married Isaac Lankershim´s daughter, Susanna, with whom he had three children. Lankershim lived in downtown LA managing the grain mill while Van Nuys remained in charge of six Valley farms.

Eventually, too old to supervise farming operations and wanting cash to build a hotel in the City of Los Angeles, Van Nuys sold his land south of Roscoe Boulevard and west of the town of Lankershim to Los Angeles Times kingpin Harry Chandler and his syndicate (among them: General Harrison Gray Otis, owner of the Times, Moses Hazeltine Sherman streetcar mogul, L.C. Brand of Glendale, Otto Freeman Brant title insurance businessman, and Hobart Johnstone Whitley a land developer known as the “Father of Hollywood”). This LA Suburban Homes Co. purchased the 47,500 acres for $2.5 million. In November of 1910, the “Sale of the Century” occurred as the Lankershim-Van Nuys farm equipment and animals went up for auction on the Kester Ranch.

The syndicate immediately set about creating the towns of Van Nuys, Marion (Reseda) and Owensmouth (Canoga Park). (These towns only allowed Caucasians to purchase lots.) The first town, Van Nuys, would begin with a brand new 14 mile “super” road called Sherman´s Way. A $500,000 replica of the Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City, Sherman Way began at what is now Chandler and Lankershim Boulevards, ran west on Chandler, then north on what is now Van Nuys Boulevard, turning west along today´s Sherman Way to Owensmouth. The entire route was called Sherman Way. It was bordered by palm trees, bushes and flowers of every sort. The Pacific Electric ran 16 trains a day from Van Nuys to Hill Street in downtown Los Angeles starting at 5:38 a.m. for 20 cents a trip if you bought a 30-trip coupon book.

The responsibility of selling this new town of Van Nuys to Angelinos was given to William Paul Whitsett (1875-1965) who also owned a half- interest. Mr. Whitsett called everyone in downtown Los Angeles who owned a phone to encourage their participation on opening day, February 22, 1911. Thousands came and were given coffee in tin cups, a grand barbeque celebration, and free transportation to the “largest opportunity on the entire Pacific Coast today.” The fact that the land was bone dry with barely a tree in sight was not mentioned in the brochures. Buyers saw sidewalks being paved, wells being dug and a few homes already built. Lots were $350 private residences and $660 for business property. The first day saw $39,606 in cash down payments.

1911  January              Whitsett begins development.

February 22      Opening Day
August 18          Post office established – Whitley Van Nuys Huffaker becomes first baby   born in Van Nuys

August 24          Van Nuys Call newspaper (25 cents an inch for advertising)

September        First school teacher, Miss Edith Prescott -15 pupils

November 24    Van Nuys Call becomes Van Nuys News (now is the Daily News)

December 16    First street car – 45 cents one way, 75 cents round trip

December 22    200 attend first Christmas service

Originally, the town of Van Nuys, like all township sites, was a one-mile square which consisted of Vanowen Street (originally, Eighth Street) on the north and Oxnard Street (Sixth Street) on the south, Hazeltine Avenue (the original name, after Moses Hazeltine Sherman) on the east and Kester Avenue (the last name of the manager of the Kester Ranch, the original name of this acreage) on the west.

By December 15, 1911 the Van Nuys News reported:

Van Nuys At A Glance

Population 550 – Post Office, Railroad Station, Streetcar Service, Handsome Residences, business blocks, $500,000 boulevard through business center, miles of improved streets, 26 business enterprises, hotels, garage, newspaper, best of soil – no irrigation required, ideal climate, good schools, separate high school district, nearly 100 pupils now enrolled, church services held here each Sunday, headquarters for American Beets, shipper companies operations on 10,000 acres near the town, most picturesque scenery in California en route from Los Angeles, handsome boulevard, surrounded by best fruit and vegetable belt in the state, post office receipts from November $223.31, October $137.48, large railroad tonnage, best opportunities in California for safe investments, home sites and small farming operations.

On year later, Van Nuys residents voted for Theodore Roosevelt in the Presidential primary (this was the year he ran as the Progressive Party or “Bull Moose” Party candidate), proving they were what the Van Nuys News called “3; a progressive community with a progressive people.”  Bully! Bully!