The 1991 videotaped police beating of Rodney King took place in a field in Lake View Terrace, and although the 1992 riots following the acquittal of police officers mostly involved other areas of Los Angeles, Panorama City, North Hills and Pacoima were hit by fires and looting.
It seemed matters could hardly get worse when at 4:31 a.m. on Jan. 17, 1994, the earth rocked. The magnitude-6.7 Northridge quake resulted in 57 deaths, more than 12,000 injuries and $48 billion in damage, making it the most expensive disaster in U.S. history.
Out of the devastation came the seeds of the Valley's recovery. About $25 billion in federal and insurance funds flowed into the area; construction and repairs generated jobs.
As the national economy improved, the Valley's entertainment industry was among the first to benefit.
Universal Studios added major new attractions to its theme park and expanded its retail-oriented CityWalk. The Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros. and NBC launched major expansions in Burbank. And Hollywood's newest studio, DreamWorks SKG, built a major animation campus in Glendale.
In the West Valley, Warner Center attracted more corporate tenants, while high-tech start-ups began to cluster along the Ventura Freeway corridor from Woodland Hills to Westlake Village.
In 1997, Valley housing prices finally turned around, rising for the first time since 1989. By last month, the median price was within 10% of the all-time high.
By decade's end, a group of civic activists was pushing for secession from Los Angeles, which the Valley was forced to join almost 100 years ago to get the water it needed to grow. A new century will determine if it will still be part of the city that shepherded its phenomenal growth.
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Here is a list of key books used in preparing the story of how the Valley was built:
The San Fernando Valley, Jackson Mayers
Material Dreams, Kevin Starr
The Owensmouth Baby, Catherine Mulholland
Rivers in the Desert, Margaret Leslie Davis
Los Angeles A to Z, Leonard & Dale Pitt
Universal City-North Hollywood, Tom Link
Glendale: A Pictorial History, E. Caswell Perry, Shirley Berger, Terri E. Jonisch
Burbank History, Jackson Mayers
Burbank: An Illustrated History, E. Caswell Perry
Land of the West Valley, Laura B. Gaye
Chatsworth History, Virginia Watson
A California Legend, Ruth Waldo Newhall
The San Fernando Valley: Then and Now, Charles A. Bearchell & Larry D. Fried
The San Fernando Valley: Past and Present, Lawrence C. Jorgensen
San Fernando Retrospective, Derward P. Loomis
The Growth and Economic Stature of the San Fernando Valley (1960 & 1967), Security First National Bank.