Toluca Lake 100 Year Anniversary

By 1923 Toluca Lake was blooming with walnut, apple and peach orchards. Charles Forman had died and his ranch was sold as part of his estate. A group of investors purchased the Forman Toluca Ranch with the idea of creating a residential subdivision named Toluca Lake Park. Regardless of whether they believed Forman was the originator of the name Toluca, the name was well established by this time. Though the nearby Southern Pacific Railroad station was known as Lankershim Station, they had named the line the Toluca Flyer for its better known destination. Forman claimed the word Toluca was a Paiute Indian word he selected meaning fertile valley. The Toluca Lake Park venture was abandoned as quickly as it had been created, but then resurrected by a new group formed under the name, The Toluca Lake Company, dropping the word Park from the name.

The lake which received its name from the Toluca Ranch in turn had lent its name back to the new community of Toluca Lake.

What began as a natural spring fed swampy pond was enhanced into a six acre water feature for the planned neighborhood. It was at the start a park-like setting where residents could wile away many a summer day on the water. The first home built on the lake shore was on Valley Spring Lane (and later became the home of famed aviator, Amelia Earhart).

After Warner Brothers opened their lot a block away in 1928, Hollywood’s elite discovered the lake in Toluca Lake. The waters swiftly became surrounded by the most expensive homes in the neighborhood and today the water cannot be viewed by the public, much less enjoyed by the neighbors. Thus, Toluca Lake has remained a wonderfully tranquil community to live in.

The lake ranges up to ten feet deep and is regularly stocked with fish. The lake bottom has been entirely sealed with four inches of asphalt to prevent seepage and its water level is now maintained by the Toluca Lake Homeowners Association (a non-profit corporation organized in 1934) via water pumped from the water supply stored in the Los Angeles underground aquifer.

The original boundaries of Toluca Lake were Cahuenga Boulevard, Camarillo Street, Clybourn Avenue and the Los Angeles River on the south. Today, when asked about the the community’s boundaries, one needs to determine for what purpose the question is asked. When specifics are called for, each individual community group or governmental agency has drawn their own boundaries to meet their needs. For example, the Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce serves the entire community in Burbank and Los Angeles, while the City of Los Angeles understandably considers it’s neighborhood called Toluca Lake to be entirely within its city boundaries. (see maps)

The first International House Of Pancakes (IHOP) opened in Toluca Lake in 1958 on the corner where Mo’s now stands. Bob’s Big Boy across the street opened in 1949 and is today the oldest remaining Big Boy restaurant of the chain. The original stalls for car-hop service are still in the parking lot. Other memorable neighborhood establishments live on in the minds of those who have called Toluca Lake home, such as Now Voyager, the Money Tree and the Tick Tock Restaraunt on the corner of Riverside and Talofa.

Toluca Terrace can be found in writing as early as 1989. The homeowners in that area chose to create the Toluca Terrace Woods Homeowners Association with a committee, the Toluca Terrace Community Action Committee, to help determine what could be done to improve their neighborhood. Real estate agents began using this name for properties in the area to enhance appeal-by-association with the popular Toluca Lake properties. It sounds better than simply saying, “Toluca Lake adjacent.” Many area names in Los Angeles have been created just for this purpose. A rose by any other name would not smell as sweet. The areas of Toluca Woods, West Toluca Lake and Toluca Terrace are now known as “the Tolucas,” though they were not within the original plan for the Toluca Lake Park development.

There is a Toluca, Montana, a Toluca, Illinois, a Toluca, North Carolina… but, there is only one Toluca Lake.


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