History of Canoga Park


The city of Canoga Park is 105 years old. Originally called Owensmouth, it’s rooted in the barley fields of San Fernando Valley. On the day of its 100th anniversary, the LA Times likened the city to “an eaglet bursting asunder the egg which nourished its embryonic life.” Hyperbole aside, there’s a rich history to what many consider a suburb of Los Angeles. It was renamed Canoga Park in 1931, and the city serves as one of southern California’s first steps towards an evolution that changed the valley from farmland to solid suburban paradise.

In the decades before Owensmouth was founded, there were two big issues in the area that put a stop on development: the remoteness, thanks to the Santa Monica Mountains, and some major landholders who were happy with the agricultural economy. Slowly, suburban dwellers began to circle the area, specifically Calabasas and Burbank, where previously orchards and ranches reigned supreme.

A Shift

When automobiles and electric railways became more prevalent, there was a natural transition towards suburban growth. Owens Valley brought constant waterflow to town, which quickly increased land values. Slowly, land owners began to sell—including Isaac N. Van Nuys who was a land baron with over 47,000 acres throughout the valley.

Opposition persisted since that first big sell, but slowly Canoga Park evolved from endless farmland to the thriving suburban city it is today. You can still see some of the original plats blending with the street grids today. Visit Owensmouth Avenue and Vanowen Street to get a glimpse into how Canoga Park looked over 100 years ago.