History of T.O.
Nestled neatly within a picturesque plateau, rimmed by tree-dotted hills and scenic mountains, the City of Thousand Oaks is 12 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, 39 miles west of Los Angeles, and 24 miles southeast of Port Hueneme, the only deepwater harbor between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Situated near the southeastern edge of Ventura County, adjoining the western edge of Los Angeles County, in a valley called The Conejo, Thousand Oaks has more than 125,000 residents within a 56-square-mile area with an average elevation of 900 feet above sea level.
The mountains, hills, and plateau that make up The Conejo Valley are a geologic chronicle to the Precambrian past when the forces of fire, ice, wind and water began to carve the California landscape as we see it today. Ventura County was under the ocean with volcanoes rising above the water's surface. Seashells and other marine fossils are still embedded in our local hills. Over millions of years, powerful earthquakes and other natural forces raised and moved landmasses, sculpted mountains, valleys, riverbeds, lakes and canyons.
Evidence indicates that the first native inhabitants lived in Ventura County 7,000 years ago and were called the Oak Grove people. The tribes later known as the Chumash moved into the region about 3,000 years ago and established more than 40 villages where they lived by harvesting grains and acorns, and hunting rabbits, boar, deer and other game. The area's recorded history dates back to 1542 when explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovered Alta, California, and anchored in several harbors from San Diego to Point Conception. He placed his country's flag at Point Mugu and claimed the land for the King of Spain. Thereafter, the region remained undisturbed for two and a half centuries until Spanish explorers and missionaries arrived.
In the early 1800s, a Spanish governor granted more than 48,000 acres of land to two loyal soldiers. One of the grants included the area that became known as the Conejo Valley, (valley of the rabbits), within which Thousand Oaks was later established. For the next half-century, vaqueros roamed the terrain and tended great herds of cattle. In the late l800s, the valley began to be parceled into ranchos. Early pioneers opened a post office and the historic Stagecoach Inn.
In the early 1900s, the Janss family, developers of several Southern California subdivisions, purchased 10,000 acres of Conejo farmland. Field crops, orchards, chicken, hog and dairy farms dotted the landscape when the first local highway made it possible for motorcars to come out from Los Angeles to see the scenic countryside. More settlers arrived as well as flocks of tourists to see jungle animals performing at Goebel's Lion Farm, opened in 1927, and later called Jungleland. By mid-century, the Janss Corporation activated plans for a "total community." Within a decade, there were two shopping centers, an industrial park, schools, churches, and a four-year liberal arts college to lure increasingly more residents to the rural development.
In 1964, the community incorporated as the City of Thousand Oaks, honoring the majestic, abundant oak trees in the area. The new city grew according to a general plan that incorporates controlled growth and a balanced mix of residential areas, modern shopping centers, schools, business and industrial centers, parks and open spaces. In the beautiful ranch-filled Hidden Valley south of Thousand Oaks is the newly developed movie-star-and-millionaire residential mecca, developed by David Murdock, called Sherwood Valley. This peaceful country setting with gate-guarded privacy is only 40 minutes from the bustle of Los Angeles. Sherwood's lake and 1,900 exclusive acres are sprinkled with sprawling mansions and a magnificent country club, including the famous Jack Nicklaus Championship Golf Course.
From the beginning of the general plan, Thousand Oaks has been dedicated to preserving and maintaining its scenic and natural resources. City administration and planning is accomplished by a five-member elected City Council with an appointed City Manager, along with extensive citizen involvement. The city is committed to offering the finest quality community services to its residents and businesses. Since its incorporation, Thousand Oaks has earned recognition as one of the safest cities of its size in the nation and one of the top 10 communities for statewide academic achievement.
The Conejo Recreation & Park District, incorporated in 1963, also serves the area. The District has received awards for its more than 3,100 recreation and leisure programs conducted each year within 42 developed parks, five playfields, seven community centers and a large central park, home of the Thousand Oaks Library and the Teen and Senior Adult Centers. Additionally, through the award winning Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA), the District and the City have joined together in preserving 15,000 acres of open space with 110 miles of trails, including the popular 1,750 acre Wildwood Park.
Thousand Oaks is proud of its past and present, and welcomes the new millennium with confidence that the city will continue to offer a quality suburban lifestyle within this beautiful natural environment. Thousand Oaks is conveniently located approximately halfway between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles on the US 101 Freeway for easy access to the rest of California and the world.