Source: [www.tarzana.ca]Few people know that Tarzana is one of the oldest communities in the Valley. In 1769 when Gaspar de Portola became the first white man to visit the Valley, the Tarzana area was the second community he passed through. A Mexican established a row crop farm on the site of the present day Las (or Los) Encino's Historical Park, next to the still running hot spring in or around 1789. He built the first non-Indian structure in the Valley made from limestone from the nearby hills, which should still exist, although heavily damaged during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. The structure had been returned to near original condition, except with earthquake reinforcing and was being used as a demonstration blacksmith shop up until the earthquake. The Mexican later became Major of Los Angeles, on or around 1800.
The Franciscan Friars arrived in the Valley to establish the San Fernando Mission in 1797. The Friars wanted all the land in the Valley and made a trade deal with the Mexican on some other land East of the Valley. The Friars used his building during the building of the Mission until there was a suitable place to live in at the Mission. What is now Tarzana became part of the Mission lands and later part of the 116,000 acre Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando. The only ones to visit the Tarzana area were a few Franciscan missionaries and travelers on the El Camino Real (The King's Highway), now Ventura Boulevard. Since the advent of the Ventura Freeway, there has been some talk of changing the name of Ventura Boulevard back to El Camino Real.
In 1919 Edgar Rice Burroughs purchased the Rancho Del Cabrillo and moved into the old General Otis home.
In 1923, Burroughs subdivided a portion of his land for homes. This was known as the Tarzana Tract. A promotional brochure of the era said of Tarzana Tract: "Chosen by Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of the Tarzan Stories and The Girl from Hollywood, Tarzana is the pride of the beautiful San Fernando Valley. Tarzana will enjoy everything that makes for ideal home life. High elevation, water, gas, electricity, paved streets, etc.... Tarzana offers you homey, spacious acres, with cool, livable surroundings. Here amidst nature's own, on a subdivision in which the price includes all improvements, with convenient schools, churches and theaters, is the place to live. Do you know that you can buy one of these full acres for $1500, the price of a city lot in the poor district? Why hesitate? Come out into the open and see Tarzana."