Culver City

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┬áHome to two major film studios, Culver City once billed itself as the ‘Heart of Screenland,’ as seen in this undated photo. Courtesy of the Photo Collection, Los Angeles Public Library.

When the Expo Line’s Culver City station opens June 20, history will come full circle. Founded at the junction of three streetcar lines, the Westside community of Culver City has been without passenger rail service since 1953.

Born on the barley fields of the former Rancho La Ballona in 1913, Culver City quickly transformed itself into “The Heart of Screenland,” a star-studded movie town with two major studios and several other production facilities. Though moviegoers outside Southern California were likely unaware, many of their favorite “Hollywood” pictures were actually produced several miles from Hollywood in Culver City.CULVERCITY-OLD1

Culver City owes its existence — and its name — to entrepreneur Harry H. Culver. Born and raised in Nebraska, Culver arrived in Southern California in 1910 and proceeded to do brisk business in real estate. Over the course of three years, he sold more than $1.5 million in acreage on the vast and mostly rural coastal plain that stretched out beyond Los Angeles’ urbanized core.

Los Angeles was in the middle of a multi-decade population boom that saw the city spilling over its historical boundaries, and Culver’s experience as a real estate agent convinced him of the value of a development nestled at the foot of the Baldwin Hills, centrally located between downtown L.A. and the seaside resort town of Venice. On July 25, 1913, he announced his new town to a group of investors gathered inside the California Club.