The beginnings of the city started out similarly to so many other communities in the San Fernando Valley. The Fernandeno and Chumash Native American tribes inhabited the area for over 8,000 years, settling areas including the Santa Monica Mountains, Simi Valley and Calabasas to the Los Angeles River, which includes what is now Woodland Hills. When the Spanish Portola Expedition came in 1769, to ‘settle’ the area they established missions. In 1797, the Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana was constituted. In 1869, Isaac Lankershim and Newton Van Nuys helped cultivate most of the valley. The land was later bought by Harry Chandler, Hobart Whitley and Moses Sherman to convert to suburban homes in 1910. This was the largest land transaction ever recorded.
Before this section could be built upon, Victor Girard Kleinberger took one look at the rolling hills and bought 2,886 acres in 1922 with the idea of forming his own idyllic ‘dream city’, in which he named Girard (and adopted the name Girard for himself at the same time). His Girard and Boulevard Land Company split the land into 6,000 lots, becoming one of the first to sell small lots to families instead of the 80 acre plots that had been the norm prior. Girard was a very motivated man who unfortunately was known to use business practices that were less than scrupulous: creating a fake business district and buildings to make the land appear more developed. To keep the creditors away he even attached liens on the properties without informing buyers. Girard was very affluent and did his best to attract new residents to his city and soon the ads he placed paid off. To beautify his new town he planted over 120,000 trees. Before Girard could become Woodland Hills though, the super community crumbled during the Great Depression. Soon only 75 homeowners were left – yet somehow the town survived and adopted the moniker of Woodland Hills, named after the trees Girard had planted.