Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tarzan 101 | Tarzana

Celebrating Tarzan's 101st anniversary by walking through Scott Tracy Griffin's Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration.

Edgar Rice Burroughs had always been interested in having movies made from his novels, so in 1919 he moved his family from Illinois to Southern California to be near Hollywood. Because he loved the outdoors - and because the Tarzan books were making him a lot of money - he bought a 540-acre estate in the West San Fernando Valley and renamed it "Tarzana" after his cash cow. The previous owner had been Los Angeles Times publisher Harrison Gray Otis and the property included orchards, goats, and a 4500-square-foot mansion.

Burroughs fictionalized his family's life on the estate in the novel The Girl from Hollywood, which contrasted the home he'd built with the evils of Los Angeles. But sadly, the ranch became too expensive for Burroughs to operate and he began leasing and selling chunks of it off. He tried building an artists' colony, drilling for oil, and forming a country club, but in 1924 the Burroughs family left the mansion and moved into a bungalow near the author's office. Seven years later, the decrepit mansion was destroyed.

In 1928 though, local residents voted to name their town after the famous ranch and the Tarzana Post Office came into being in 1930. Today, Tarzana is an affluent suburb of LA, but still holds onto historic elements like the country club and a large park that preserves the wild outdoors Burroughs fell in love with when he bought the place.

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