91331: Virtual Tour
The history of Pacoima dates back to 450 AD when the indigenious people of the area, the Fernandeño Tataviam called it Pakoinga Village. The word pakoi means “to enter” and so Pakoinga is believed to mean “the place of the entrance,” probably in reference to the nearby Tujunga Wash. Shortly after the arrival of the new Southern Pacific railroad station – a large brick passenger station that was considered to be one of the finest on their line – the area saw rapid growth with spacious and expensive two-story homes being built. In 1888, the town’s main street – known today as Van Nuys Boulevard – was constructed and building codes were established requiring that new buildings cost at least $2,000 – a high price tag for the time period that ensured that the area remained exclusive. The great flood of 1891, resulted in many people moving away, and Pacoima returned to being more of an agricultural area.
During World War II, the area saw another rapid period of growth as the need for worker housing increased thanks to the nearby Lockheed plant. Following WWII, many African Americans settled in Pacoima because they were excluded from other neighborhoods in Los Angeles, resulting in one of the largest Black middle class communities in the San Fernando Valley. By the late 1960s, immigrants from rural Mexico began to move to Pacoima because of the low housing costs and the proximity to manufacturing jobs as many of the African American families moved away, resulting in another demographic shift for the area. Unfortunately in the 1990s, Lockheed made massive layoffs and the nearby Van Nuys General Motors plant closed, resulting in many longtime Pacoima residents leaving the area.