Universal Film Manufacturing Company

In 1912, Carl Laemmle's Universal Film Manufacturing Company was one of the first film companies to experiment with film making in Southern California. The picture-perfect scenery and sunny climate were ideal for filming the popular westerns of that time. By 1915, Laemmle had opened the gates of a 230-acre ranch and Universal City became the first self-contained, unincorporated community dedicated to making movies.

By 1920, the population tripled that of 1910 to more than 2,000. With growth came the need for city services especially water that only Los Angeles could provide and Los Angeles annexed Lankershim in 1923.

Farmland and ranches soon gave way to poultry ranches, new homes, and offices. New construction records were broken each year, and the area was becoming one of the fastest-growing in the country. In 1927 it was announced that a new studio, called Studio City, was to be built by the Central Motion Picture District. Instead of Lankershim, however, the publicity for the new studio placed it in "North" Hollywood. The public embraced the change and on August 15, 1927, the area changed its name from Lankershim to North Hollywood.

North Hollywood's population was close to 20,000 around the time of the 1929 Stock Market Crash and subsequent Depression. Even the movie industry felt its impact. Universal Studio owners, Carl Laemmle and his son, were forced to sell the studio to pay off debts. The studio recovered, however, with a series of popular box-office attractions including "All Quiet on the Western Front," which won three Oscars.

Another sad note of this period was a devastating flood in 1938. Heavy rainfall caused the Los Angeles River to overflow its banks. Storm-related deaths reached 49 and property damage hit $40 million. After the disaster, the community wasted no time in rebuilding itself.

By 1950, Universal City added an additional 140 acres at the eastern end of its property. The studio now stretched across more than 420 acres, making it the largest film factory in the world.

By the 1950s and early 1960s, television was altering the local economy as studios produced fewer films. In 1959, the Music Corporation of America (MCA) bought Universal Studios, primarily to film its TV shows.

To help pay off its debt load, MCA reinstated the studio tour that Carl Laemmle had started in the silent era, but was forced to abandoned with the advent of movie sound. The tour soon became a major attraction, which was further enhanced when the Sheraton Universal Hotel opened in 1969.

By the 1980s, Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park blossomed into one of the world's premier tourist attractions, entertaining 40,000 visitors a day.

Growth and new development continue into the '90s as MCA was first bought by Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial Company, and then Canada's Seagrams.