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Book Review: San Fernando Valley by Marc Wanamaker, an Images of America Book

Marty McFly here to talk about a new and exciting book that debuted on June 27th, 2011 titled, San Fernando Valley by local author Marc Wanamaker which is part of the Images of America series published by Arcadia Publishing.

Berfore I talk about the book, just some brief background info on the Images of America series. According to Wikipedia
It was founded in Dover, New Hampshire in 1993 by United Kingdom-based Tempus Publishing, but became independent in 2004........Its formula for regional publishing is to use local writers or historians to write about their community using 180 to 240 black-and-white photographs with captions and introductory paragraphs in a 128 page book.
These books are easy to read that a child can read it faster than some adults I know. The books are essentially picture books with captions and brief introductory paragraphs for each chapter. What I really like about these books are the rare and never before seen photos that were usually acquired/owned by the author or released under special permission by another source due to that author's special relationships and/or connections. However, the one thing I dislike about the book or wish they could change is if some of the pics could be printed in color. I know that some of the pics are originally in color which would enhance the images but I believe they are in black and white to maintain a low price which can be typically purchased for $10 - $20 depending on the Vendor.  

In addition to the San Fernando Valley book, you can also purchase Granada Hills, Encino, Los Angeles River, Glendale: 1940 - 2000, St. Francis Dam Disaster, Early Universal City, Early Warner Bros. Studios (also by Wanamaker), and Griffith Park which all cover the San Fernando Valley. I own and have reviewed the first three on the list so I now have some books to add to my Amazon wish list. But to be honest the list of books published for CA alone is massive, its possible I missed a book as these books are not only used to document the history of cities and locations but also unique subjects such as U.S. Navy Seals in San Diego or Historic Hotels of Los Angeles and Hollywood. So the number of books that reference the San Fernando Valley in a couple of pages is difficult for me to know without obviously reading all the books which is a negative right now. 

Anyways, back to the book and author. Marc Wanamaker is the owner of Bison Photo Archives which specializes in photo collections of the motion picture and television industry in the U.S. and also including images of Southern California which has been in business since 1971. Marc Wanamaker is a world class expert and consultant in film history who has worked in many areas of the film industry for several decades. He has also written or contributed to numerous books covering film history and other Southern California subjects like the San Fernando Valley. 

According to the book's introduction, Marc grew up in North Hollywood where his father, Dr. William Wanamaker, purchased a G.I. tract home in 1946. He grew up and frequented many places in the Valley. Marc also attended CSUN and worked for Universal Studios during the 80's. So as you can read, the author has met the first requirement for being a SFV author which is to be born, raised, and/or lived in the Valley for a significant amount of your living existence. 

With respect to the book, there must be more than 200 photos spanning the late 1800's to the late 1980's with a majority from the 1930 to 1970 period. As mentioned above, Marc's specialty is the TV and Movie industry so there a numerous photos of studios, actors homes, and filming locations. There are also numerous aerial shots that give an eye-opening experience to how open and undeveloped the Valley used to be. 

Its hard to say what is the best picture because there are so many. I think whatever "connects" with the reader from some long ago memory will probably be that one favorite like the picture of the Pickwick Drive-in at 1100 West Alameda in Burbank that no longer exists. Yes, remember when you used to watch a movie in the car or do other sorts of things you werent supposed to, just saying. Or it could be an obscure picture you dont recognize or believe at all like the Texaco Albatross Service Station from 1933 at the intersection of Ventura Blvd and Ventura Place in Studio City which was a gas service station  that incorporated an actual airplane with the wings providing the roof structure. No joke, you have to see that picture to believe it. Wish it was still there. I was completely unaware of this site.The list goes on and on. Some pictures you may have seen in other books, photo collections, or even postcards but a lot of the images are unique. The book also provides a lot of good historical references and actual locations that this book will become a handy reference for when you need to tell your friends, "told ya so" or do you remember "such and such."

Here are the list of chapters:
  1. Acknowledgments
  2. Introduction
  3. Early Subdivision of the Ranchos
  4. San Fernando Valley Development
  5. The North Valley (
  6. The East Valley
  7. The South Valley
  8. The West Valley
  9. The Central Valley
  10. Motion Picture and Television Studios
  11. Filming Locations and Homes of the Stars
In addition to the book, there is a companion postcard collection which I accidentally purchased thinking it was the book. The postcards are pics from the book so they are a great companion piece to include as part of your collection or to simply use as postcards and mail to all the former residents who left this great area. 

So I give this book a two thumbs up or whatever ratings they use for books. Its a must-have for every die hard San Fernando Valley resident like myself. Dont be shy to admit it, you know you cant get enough of the SFV. The book and postcards can be purchased at Arcadia Publishing,, local bookstores, eBay, or wherever you normally purchase books. If you want to get an idea of the book's contents, has a preview section which shows limited amounts of pages. 

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Marty Mcfly

Anything and everything about the San Fernando Valley. This blog will take you back in time when the valley was covered with dirt and orange groves to a leader in the space race to its current status as America's suburb. Come along and join me on this adventure, I guarantee you have been influenced/impacted by the San Fernando Valley in one form or another even if you have never visited or heard of the SFV.

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