California Fool’s Gold — Exploring Granada Hills

California Fool's Gold

Today’s Los Angeles neighborhood blog is about Granada Hills.

I drove to Granada Hills today to buy a rug for Lush Floral Design head-honcho, Ngoc Nguyen. To get there I used the Ronald Reagan Freeway, named after an actor from Illinois who made some films which are widely regarded as being universally unmemorable. The ex-actor, after retiring from Hollywood, went on to sell weapons to the Iranian dictatorship using the profits to arm death squads in Central America. He also used funds designated for cleaning up toxic waste to fund instead the campaigns of sympathetic politicians and he closed institutions for the mentally ill, which flooded the street with hundreds of thousands of newly homeless people that now fill our jails and fend for themselves on sidewalks, under freeways, and in parks.


In 1959 Nikita Khrushchev visited the United States with two requests which revealed the Hollywood movie-lover in the famous shoe-banger:

1. To go to Disneyland

2. Meet John Wayne

The United States had a better idea; show him a modern suburb on Sophia Drive in Granada Hills. Instead of inspecting an aerospace plant, he was taken behind the scenes of 20 Century Fox’s Can-Can.


Map of the San Fernando Valley
Pendersleigh & Sons‘ Official Map of the San Fernando Valley

Granada Hills is situated in the northern part of the San Fernando Valley.

Map of Granada Hills
Pendersleigh & Sons‘ Official Map of Granada Hills

It is neighbored by Sylmar to the east, Mission Hills to the southeast, North Hills to the southeast, Northridge to the southwest, Porter Ranch to the west and the Santa Susana Mountains to the north.


The Santa Susana Mountain area now part of Granada Hills was home to the Tataviam at the time of the arrival of the Spaniards. By 1810, the Spaniards had subjugated them entirely. From 1821 to 1848, the area was ruled by Mexico. After that, it became part of the US.

Old Granada Hills

In 1916, oil was discovered in the area then simply known as “Granada,” near the northern end of Zelzah Avenue. The area was primarily used for dairy farms and produce. In the early part of the 20th Century, apricots, beans, grapefruits, lemons, oranges, and walnuts were the main crops. In 1927, Granada was officially founded. The “Hills” was added around 1942.

Balboa Highlands

Granada Hills became something a hot spot for modernist architecture during the middle of the century. The Balboa Highlands tract was designed for developer Joseph Eichler. Many of the homes in the area have been featured in movies, TV shows, and commercials.



Knots Landing was actually Crystalaire Place in the Knollwood Country Club Estates.


In the 5th Episode of 24, Jack Bauer rescues a man from a crashed helicopter… in Granada Hills.

Many scenes from Fast Times at Ridgemont High and My Tutor were filmed in Granada Hills along Chatsworth Street. Both films deal with High School.

Other films and TV shows filmed in part or in whole in Granada Hills include Alpha Dog, Andy Barker, P.I., Another Gay Movie, Bad News Bears (2005), Crayon, Creation of the Humanoids – Green screen test, Die Hard 2, E.T., Easy Six, Exotics –, Forbidden, Hannah Montana, Hidden Desire, Hindsight, The Indian, Investigating Love, Kisses and Caroms, LADP – Life between the sheets, Little Athens, The Lost World, The Magic Yarmulka, New rave video magazine, Numb3rs, One among us, Rising shores, Scream at the Sound of the Beep, Sweet Encounters, The Son, Talk Dirty to Me 13, Tiger, The Timer Game, and X-Treme Farrah.

 Ty Miller

Ashley Judd was born there…                       as was Ty Miller

Granada Hills Ralphs 1959

A pretty swank Ralphs opened in Granada Hills in 1959


Granada Hills isn’t served by many restaurants. Restaurants in the neighborhood in part evince the diversity the neighborhood’s ethnic demographics, which are currently 56% White (mostly Germanic), 21% Latino (mostly Mexican) and 16% Asian (mostly Korean).

Restaurants include A & W Barbecue Seafood Restaurant, Ali Baba Persian Restaurant, Asahi Sushi, Balboa Thai Food, Burrito Factory, C.F. Food Kitchen, Casa de Pizza, Fountain Site Restaurant, Good Pho You, El Queso Grande, LA Pizza Company, Mexican Fast Food, Nacho’s Restaurants, Odyssey Restaurant, Olympia Kebab, Palermo Deli, Pampas Cafe, Pizza Cookery, Red Devil Pizza, Sushi Raw, Sweet Basil Thai Bistro, Tony’s Deli & Mexican Food, Two Guys From Italy and Vegetable Delight.


If you feel like a drink, there are even fewer bars in the neighborhood, just Jug Jug Sports Bar and Restaurant, Oh Grady’s, Sugar Suite and Tender Glow.


Granada Hills doesn’t have many parks either. However, O’Melveny Park is a doozie! It was C.J. Ranch until it was named for one of the original members of the California State Parks CommissionHenry W. O’Melveny. It was purchased in 1941 by attorney John O’Melveny, later turned over to the city and is the second largest park in the city, after Griffith Park.


One other thing to check out is White Oak Avenue. The area between the San Fernando Mission and San Jose Street was declared an Historical Landmark back in 1966 due to the 101 Himalayan deodar cedar trees dubbed “Christmas Tree Lane.”

To vote for any communities you’d like to see covered in California Fool’s Gold, name them in the comments. If you’d like a bit of inspiration, there are primers for:

Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, essayist, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking paid writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in generating advertorials, cranking out clickbait, or laboring away in a listicle mill “for exposure.”
Brightwell has written for Angels Walk LAAmoeblogBoom: A Journal of CaliforniadiaCRITICSHidden Los Angeles, and KCET Departures. His art has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft ContemporaryForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County Store, the book SidewalkingSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured as subject in The Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistCurbedLAEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRWWhich Way, LA?, at Emerson College, and the University of Southern California.
Brightwell is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on AmebaDuolingoFacebookGoodreadsInstagramMubiand Twitter.
Art prints of Brightwell’s maps are available from Saatchi Art and 1650 Gallery. Other merchandise is available on Tee Public.
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16 thoughts on “California Fool’s Gold — Exploring Granada Hills

    1. Granada Hills was the first neighborhood that I explored, back in 2007. I’m planning on coming back this year, getting a bit more in depth, and seeing what’s changed. Thanks for the tip!




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