THE SWEET LIFE

News & Views From the Tangerine
30 Mar

Burbank, California Hotel The Tangerine is a part of Los Angeles History

Have you ever taken a look at the bewildering, endless sea of concrete dotted with palm trees that is the L.A. metro area and wondered “Why here?”  How did this all grow up?

Our little corner of Los Angeles has its roots in the wanderlust of a New Hampshire dentist who felt the pull of the great westward migration.  In 1867, Dr. David Burbank bought a ranch and built a home for himself on a piece of land that would in time become part of the storied backlot of the Warner Brothers Studio. The sale of Burbank’s ranch to land speculators in 1886 marked the genesis of the city that would eventually bear his name.  (You can visit a ten foot high bronze statue of Dr. Burbank at Five Points.)

1911 saw the official incorporation of Burbank as a city, but the small hamlet barely deserved the designation.  The tiny handful of stores served farmers in a vast sea of cultivated fields.  In fact, the first Burbank city seal bore only a cantaloupe in its center.  Melons were huge.

Before the decade was out, the Moreland Truck Company adopted Burbank as its home, and other industry soon followed.  The most recognizable name was Lockheed, which began production in Burbank in 1928.  Lockheed was almost solely responsible for shielding Burbank from the worst of the Great Depression.  The city’s pride in the aircraft manufacturer resulted in an update to the city seal, which featured an airplane flying over farmland set against a brilliant sunrise.

Almost from its earliest days there were hints of the industry for which Burbank would become famous. Early films featured scenes shot on the streets of the small town.  In 1926, First National Pictures—the studio that would become Warner Brothers—began building in Burbank.  Columbia Pictures followed in 1934 and Walt Disney opened its Burbank lot in 1940.  Later, Jack Warner sold land to NBC to open a studio in 1955.  It was dubbed “Color City” and designed exclusively for broadcasting in color, the first studio of its kind.

It was on NBC’s Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In that Gary Owens described the studio’s digs as being in “beautiful downtown Burbank.”  The moniker stuck, and later, Johnny Carson famously offered his Tonight Show guests “greetings from beautiful downtown Burbank.”

In the midst of those heady days of early color television, a modest two-story motel opened its doors half a mile away.  At the time, you could go to the movies and see Elizabeth Taylor, John Wayne, Audrey Hepburn, or Marilyn Monroe in their heydays.  During the hotel’s early years Warner Brothers produced Giant, Auntie Mame, and The Music Man.  Disney gave us Old Yeller and Sleeping Beauty.

Meanwhile, the country was gripped by the Cold War, and down the road from the Holiday Lodge, top secret U-2 spy planes were in production at Lockheed.  Nationwide, the country had been humbled by the Russians’ launch of Sputnik.  The space race had begun in earnest.

The sixties gave way to the seventies.  As the youth culture flourished, Burbank continued to grow, and studios produced more and more movies and television.  Still the Holiday Lodge, owned by the same family, continued to welcome business travelers and tourists to Burbank.  Over the decades, the city around it changed, and it was time for an update and a fresh new name.  Fortunately, the retro feel survives at The Tangerine, and the upgrade is fabulous.

The Tangerine has become somewhat of a destination all her own.  Travelers come for the nostalgia and the vibe and wind up loving our thoughtful, luxurious touches—the scent of tangerines in the air, the amazing bedding, the delectable pastries from Porto’s, and our staff who go above and beyond to make your stay convenient and comfortable.  History has been kind to the little hotel on Riverside Drive.