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Universal City

Universal City, California

Type :  


Universal City is a community in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles County, California, that encompasses the 415 acre property of Universal Studios. Approximately 70 percent of the property is in an unincorporated area of the county surrounded by the City of Los Angeles, and the remaining area is inside the Los Angeles city limits.
Universal City is unincorporated to avoid City of Los Angeles business taxes and regulations .

Located in Universal City are 10 Universal City Plaza, a 36-floor office building for Universal and NBC, the Sheraton Universal, the Universal Hilton, the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, the Universal CityWalk shopping and entertainment center, the Gibson Amphitheatre, and Universal's studios, sets, and lots. The Metro Red Line underground station of the same name is located across the street from 10 Universal Plaza. A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department station is located at Universal CityWalk.

It is also the home to the only paid government operated fire station on private property, Los Angeles County Fire Department Station 51. This station number holds special significance to Universal. Station 51 was the fictional home of the Jack Webb/Universal television series, Emergency!

The ZIP Code is 91608 and the community is inside area code 818.


Carl Laemmle (pronounced Lem-Lee) officially opened the Second Universal City on March 15, 1915 on a 230 acre Talyor Ranch property. A crowd of men in waistcoats and women in bonnets jostled to catch a glimpse of the film stages, daredevil stunt pilots, silent-film idols and movie cameras Laemmle had brought to a dusty ranch in the hills of what is now North Hollywood.

"See how slapstick comedies are made. See your favorite screen stars do their work. See how we make the people laugh or cry or sit on the edge of their chairs the world over!" cried a poster touting Universal's opening. "C'mon out! Aw, c'mon!"

Universal Pictures' founder was a German immigrant who opened his first nickelodeon in Chicago in 1906. He moved to New York City, where he soon joined with half a dozen small motion picture companies to create the movie company he called Universal Pictures.

In 1912, Laemmle briefly operated three small studios - Bison, Nestor, and Oak Crest Ranch. After a court battle with New York Film Company, control of the Bison lot was returned to the New York Film Company. The court allowed Carl Laemmle to retain use of the name 'Bison. Bison 101)" for his westerns, which were filmed on the Oak Crest property in the San Fernando Valley. The Oak Crest Ranch is where Laemmle filmed the western "At Old Fort Dearborn." The Providencia Land and Water company, called Oak Crest Ranch in the trade papers, became the first Universal City Location.

In 1913, Laemmle decided to consolidate the Nestor studio and Oak Crest ranch property. His first Universal City was too small, so he ordered a search for a new and larger property in the valley, a location with more space to use for his Universal City. Laemmle leased Providencia ranchland in the San Fernando Valley in 1912. If it was a city, it was a haphazard one : With the help of nearly 300 movie hands and actors, he erected makeshift buildings, set up cameras and began churning out hundreds of one- and two-reel silent westerns.

Other studio chiefs laughed, calling the place "Laemmle's Folly" and jeering that it was so far out of town that Laemmle could film scenery for free anywhere he wanted. Laemmle himself had second thoughts and worried that maybe he had made a huge mistake. But he was to soon live his greatest dreams. Success was found all around with his "city" containing streets, bungalows, sets and viewing stands—all so the public could observe the magic of moviemaking.

In the meantime, Laemmle added a zoo to the Oak Crest Ranch . — Opened to Visitor to generate free advertising by word of mouth.
The Rotatian of Los Angeles were one of the groups permitted to visit the Oak Crest - Universal City. (The Rotarian - Feb 1914)

The Oak Crest ranch being too small ( Scrap-it). For his larger Universal City, Laemmle bought the Lankershism land and Water property, the Taylor Ranch Talyor ranch for $165,000, calling it his new Universal City.

In 1914, The Oak Ranch operations were moved to the Taylor ranch. The Universal ranch zoo, was moved to the Back Ranch, of the Lankersim property.
The New Universal City was opened for Universal Staff in 1914.

Laemmle went on an eight-day whistle-stop tour from Chicago to Los Angeles the week before Universal City's grand Public opening. His promoters even sold the grand lie that Laemmle had persuaded the secretary of the Navy to send a battleship up the Los Angeles River to fire a salvo on opening day. Easterners, they hoped, would believe anything about California.

After World War I, Laemmle brought even more kin over from war-torn Europe, increasing the payroll to 70. His cheerful nepotism was immortalized in humorist Ogden Nash's couplet: Uncle Carl Laemmle has a very large faemmle.

Laemmle was forced to end studio tours in the 1920s when talkies came along and "quiet on the set" became an absolute. He sold his sprawling entertainment empire in 1936. Before his death in 1939, at age 72, he helped bring more than 200 German-Jewish refugees to Los Angeles.

A nephew, Max, founded the local Laemmle Theatres chain.

Universal City didn't welcome tourists again until July 4, 1964. Next came hotels, an amphitheater, a movie complex and an urban theme park called Universal CityWalk—a faux city street and popular destination for tourists and locals.

 Universal Ranch 1912
On June 8, 1912, Carl Laemmle merged IMP with five smaller companies to form the Universal Film Manufacturing Company. After visiting his newly acquired west coast operations of Nestor Studios and Nestor Ranch, he renamed the studio "Universal Studios," and the leased Oak Crest Ranch became the first "Universal City" in the San Fernando Valley.

The first Universal/Nestor Ranch is presently the site of Forest Lawn Memorial Park .

In 1915, Universal moved its Hollywood/Nestor studio and Universal/Nestor Ranch operations to its new Lankershim Blvd. location before the official opening of Universal City .

In 1916, The first Universal Oak Ranch, became known as the Lasky Ranch. The Hollywood studio was then leased to Christie Comedies.

 Universal City - Oak Crest Ranch - 1912
  • In 1912, Carl Laemmle toured his Pacific coast operations. He renamed the Nestor Studio - "Universal Studios" - and the leased Nestor Ranch - Universal City. He also took control property in Encino.
  • Carl Laemmle thought the Providencia ranch area was too small for this his ideas of "Universal City". He ordered the purchase the Lankershim land Water Company property.

 Lankershim Ranch and Water Company
  • Subdivision of the east 12,000 acres of the south half of Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando
  • Purchased lots 276, 277, 278; also a small portion of Lot 279, marked Mary L. Carhart .
  • Only 230 acres of northern part lot 278 became official studios front lot in 1915. The zoo and other stage were constructed on the northern sections of Lot 277 and 278.
  • The mountain portions above were not incorporated into studio use until MCA/Universal's master plan to level the hills and create the Universal Studio Tour Center and City Walk
  • http://content.cdlib.org/dynaxml/data/13030/kf/hb9b69p5kf/files/hb9b69p5kf-FID6.jpg] Map: Lankershim Ranch and Water Company

 Universal City Ranch Moves
  • Between 1914 and 1915 "Universal City" assets were moved to the Lankershim Location.
  • Movie Making locations by Jerry L. Schneider

 Forest Lawn Memorial Park History Before - 1917

The Providencia Land and Water Development Company property was used as a location for some early films, most significantly the battle scenes in the silent classic about the American Civil War, The Birth of a Nation .

In 1912, Carl Laemmle Universal Pictures took over the assets of Nestor Studios and named this area Universal City. The photograph of this area can be seen in Los Angeles Library archives: "A Birds Eye View of Universal City":

 NBC Moves Operations
On September 10, 2007, NBC Universal management alerted its employees that the company planned to end its 56-year relationship with Burbank, California and sell much of the Burbank complex. NBC Universal will relocate its vast television and cable operations to the Universal City complex. The new facilities - part of an $800 million skyline-altering development expected to be completed in 2011 - will be located adjacent to the Universal City Red Line subway station and feature an environmentally friendly West Coast news headquarters.

Thomas Properties Group is developing and will own NBC's new home. The network will likely share its new space with other tenants. The first phase - the five-story, broadcast studio with a 24-story post-production office facility and another 24-story high-rise with six stories of parking - should be finished in 2011. A 34-story office tower or condominium hotel is scheduled for completion in 2015, according to Thomas Properties. Eventually, the complex could employ about 3,200 people.

The Burbank studio was purchased in 1951. NBC moved The Tonight Show from Burbank to the Stage One lot at Universal Studios when Conan O'Brien took over hosting duties upon Jay Leno's exit from the program in 2009, but then shifted the show back to Burbank when Leno re-assumed hosting duties in 2010. The company plans to take West Coast network and local news operations and other facilities such as the "Access Hollywood" set to a new state-of-the art broadcast facility across the street from Universal Studios in 2011. The new facilities will be in a new building adjacent to the main subway line connecting Universal City to downtown Los Angeles. They will be across the street from Universal Studios, the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park and the CityWalk tourist destination.

Burbank Mayor Marsha Ramos was quoted as saying she was sad to learn The Tonight Show is leaving the city of 105,000. "The Tonight Show put us on the map," she told the Los Angeles Times. "Without that line from Johnny Carson about beautiful downtown Burbank, most people wouldn't even know that we exist." Tonight would return to Burbank following the 2010 Tonight Show conflict that saw Leno regain hosting duties with O'Brien leaving NBC altogether.

The dated Burbank property will be replaced by a modern media center featuring virtual studios, interactive graphic capabilities, a glass-walled newsroom and other high-tech features.

NBC's relocation and building plans still need approval from the City and County of Los Angeles. Several influential politicians have already raised concerns regarding the size of the project given increased traffic and congestion in the area.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Universal City, California", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.