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.

This Audio Tour is Narrated by Ravi Kapoor

Highlights:

Show Us the View from Your Zip Code and Use #zipcodeplays to Share it With Us!

Click the image below to view the tour on Google Earth

First Stop:
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Mural Mile

Van Nuys Blvd, Pacoima, CA 91331

Starting in 2012, Mural Mile grew out of an arts movement by individual artists who were looking to beautify their city and engage the youth in the community. Today, there are over 50 murals along Van Nuys Boulevard.

Here are just a few of our favorites to check out: Kristy Sandoval’s Decolonized (located at Van Nuys Blvd and Bradley Avenue, behind Global Unlimited Insurance) breaks the second dimension by incorporating an awning into the mural that also features monarch butterflies, macaws, and California Poppies; Levi Ponce’s homage to Danny Trejo celebrates the actor who was born in Pacoima (located at 13043 Van Nuys Blvd); Sandoval’s Freedom Fighter was painted with The H.O.O.D. Sisters (an all-womyn crew of artists who strive to raise awareness through public art), and pays tribute to Tupac Shakur’s grandmother Assata Shakur (at 13161 Van Nuys Blvd); and Ponce’s Pacoima’s Art Revolution (at 13349 Van Nuys Boulevard) painted during a time when painting murals was illegal in Los Angeles, stands as a symbol of the fight for the arts.

Read above, or listen to learn about Mural Mile.
Next Stop:
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Hansen Dam

10965 Dronfield Ave, Pacoima, CA 91331

The Los Angeles Flood of 1938 was one of the largest floods in the history of Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, creating almost one year’s worth of rain in just a few days. It caused $78 million of damage (approximately $1.42 billion in today’s dollars) making it one of the costliest natural disasters in LA’s history. The Hansen Dam was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1940 to control the runoff and flood waters in the area.

Using imminent domain, the Corps seized the horse ranch of Homer and Marie Hansen to build this 2-mile long and 97-foot high dam. At the time of its construction the dam was the largest of its type in the world, built by a 1,000-person workforce. You can get closer to the Dam on the Hansen Bike Trail from the address listed on Dronfield or take in the views during a round of golf at nearby Hansen Dam Golf Course (located at 10400 Glenoaks Blvd).

Read above, or listen to learn about Hansen Dam.

Nashville Hot Chicken

10750 Glenoaks Blvd #3, Pacoima, CA 91331

Nashville Hot Chicken is ready to deliver spicy goodness to your taste buds with their signature Southern style. We really love that they have varying heat levels for some of our more, shall we say, “heat intolerant” visitors.

Read above, or listen to learn about Nashville Hot Chicken.
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Ritchie Valens Recreation Center

10736 Laurel Canyon Blvd, Pacoima, CA 91331

Born Richard Valenzuela in 1941, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Ritchie Valens is honored throughout the city of Pacoima where he was born and raised. There is a mural painted by artist Manuel Velasquez at nearby Pacoima Middle School, two murals featuring Valens on Mural Mile (one at 13663 Van Nuys Blvd, and the other at 13433 Van Nuys Rd), and this park, which was renamed to honor him in 1994.

Valens had several hits, but his most notable was “La Bamba.” Unfortunately, Valens’s life ended tragically in 1959, when at the age of 17, a plane he was on crashed in Iowa. The plane crash also claimed the lives of fellow musicians Buddy Holly and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, as well as the pilot Roger Peterson.

Read above, or listen to learn about Ritchie Valens Recreation Center.
91331_Pacoima_Stylesville

StylesVille Barber & Beauty Salon

13161 Van Nuys Blvd, Pacoima, CA 91331

The oldest Black-owned business in the northeast San Fernando Valley, StylesVille Barbershop & Beauty Salon was started by Freddie and Ollie Carter in 1957.

The original building was actually across the street from this current location. The Carters bought the current location in 1977 and renovated the space. To meet state regulations around gender segregation they built a partition that separated the women and men, which still remains today. StylesVille is now run by a third-generation family member, and draws clients from all over Southern California.

Read above, or listen to learn about StylesVille Barber & Beauty Salon.

Listen to The Zip Code Play for 91331

Thank you for joining our tour!

Thank you for exploring Los Angeles with Antaeus! We hope you’ll listen to all twelve of The Zip Code Plays, and join us for more tours of local neighborhoods. 

If you like this project, and you want to get more involved, we hope you’ll consider making a gift to help support Antaeus Theatre Company’s innovative approach to sharing high quality professional theater, whether that’s in our theater or online.

Learn about The Zip Code Plays:

Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center
110 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91205
phone: 818.506.5436 / email: info@antaeus.org
Antaeus is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization Tax ID # 95-4548826
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