Tarzana is a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley region of the city of Los Angeles, California. Tarzana is a mostly residential community on the site of a former ranch owned by author Edgar Rice Burroughs. It is named after Burroughs’ storybook jungle character hero, Tarzan.
he area now known as Tarzana was occupied in 1797 by Spanish settlers and missionaries who established the San Fernando Mission. Later absorbed by Mexico, the land was ceded to the United States in 1848 by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo following the Mexican-American War. Under US rule it evolved into a series of large cattle ranches owned by local elites. Investors took over in the 1870s, turning grazing into large-scale wheat farm operation.
Boundaries of Tarzana as drawn by the Los Angeles Times.
The area was purchased in 1909 by the Los Angeles Suburban Homes Company. LA Times founder and publisher General Harrison Gray Otis invested in the company and also personally acquired 550 acres (2.2 km2) in the center of modern-day Tarzana.
In 1915 or 1919, Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of the popular Tarzan novels, purchased Otis’s tract and established Tarzana Ranch. Burroughs subdivided and sold the land for residential development with neighboring small farms following suit. The subdivision was one of many all-white planned communities started in the Los Angeles area around this time, with racial segregation enforced by a restrictive covenant inserted in property deeds. It stated in part that “said premises or any part thereof shall not be leased, sold, or conveyed to, or occupied by any person not of the Caucasian race”. Burroughs marketed his new community using themes that evoked British imperialism and white supremacy.
In 1927 or 1928, local residents renamed the area Tarzana in honor of Burroughs and his famous storybook character.