Getting to Know 110-Year-Old Burbank

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
Burbank City Hall was bathed in blue light on Thursday for the 110th anniversary of the city’s incorporation. An event this month allows participants to earn a coin commemorating the anniversary.

Burbank celebrated its 110th anniversary this week, and community members can win a coin commemorating the city’s birthday by participating in a self-guided tour.

Burbank City Hall glowed with a blue light on Thursday in honor of the municipality’s incorporation on July 8, 1911. Anyone can receive a coin emblazoned with the date until the end of the month by taking selfies in locations around the municipality with a cutout of Dr. David Burbank, from whom the city derives its name.

“This is the right time to celebrate 110 years,” Mayor Bob Frutos, who first raised the idea of a City Council discussion regarding potential events, said in a phone interview. “The city is going forward. We’ve got great people in the city. … And the contest that we have, it’s really about the history and informing people.”

Entrants of the “Discover Burbank” tour will visit 11 locations around the city — ranging from Burbank City Hall to the participant’s favorite park — and post selfies of themselves on Facebook or Instagram, tagging the city of Burbank’s account and including the #burbank110 hashtag. Full contest rules and printable cutouts of David Burbank are available at the library’s website.

Participants will conclude their tour at one of Burbank’s public libraries, where the commemorative coins will be distributed.

Elizabeth Goldman, director of library services, said that this year the city formed a committee charged with the task of determining how to celebrate the city’s anniversary. It was the first time Burbank had created such a committee, which included representatives of the library, the Parks and Recreation Department and the Public Information Office.

The committee presented a number of options to the City Council in May, with members of the panel appearing particularly interested in the idea of a city tour.

“It kind of reintroduces you to the community,” Goldman said in an interview after the meeting. “Everyone’s been stuck inside for so much of the year or only going to a really limited number of places, [so] there might be a place … you forgot how much you love, or a place that you didn’t even know existed even though you’ve lived in Burbank for a long time.

“We’re kind of reintroducing people to their own community, in a way,” she added.

The Burbank library is also hosting a photo contest through the end of August, encouraging community members to submit photos of the town for potential inclusion in a 2022 calendar. The Friends of the Burbank Public Library, a nonprofit group that supports the system, will select 12 images and provide the winning photographers with four copies of the calendar in a library gift bag.

The selected submissions could also be added to the library’s “Burbank in Focus” digital historical archive. More information about the contest is also available at the library’s website.

“The photo contest offers a chance to capture and preserve what makes Burbank meaningful to people,” Carolyn Alves, local history librarian with the Burbank Public Library, said in an email. “We’re hoping to bring the community some fun and normalcy back into their lives.”

David Burbank, according to the library website, was born 200 years ago. The dentist and businessman moved to Los Angeles in 1866, the library explained, and purchased about 9,200 acres of land in present-day Burbank, building a house on what is now the back lot of the Warner Bros. studio.

The Burbank in Focus archive adds that the eponymous pioneer of Burbank sold his property in 1886 to land speculators who formed the Providencia Land, Water and Development Co., naming the town Burbank after the man, who sat on the organization’s board of directors. David Burbank died in 1895.

In 1911, the town’s leaders asked the California Legislature to incorporate Burbank as a city — the first in the San Fernando Valley, according to the city of San Fernando’s guiding document on historic preservation.