The History

The following is just a short overview of the History of the Ranch. More detailed explanations can be found by clicking on the Interactive Map link above to explore each area of the Ranch.
It all started with the birth of the then named CBC (Cohn-Brandt-Cohn) Film Sales Company of New York, in 1919. A small company that distrubuted short subject films, such as the Hall Room Boys. By 1924, the CBC developed in to Columbia Pictures Corporation, a major motion picture studio, which housed itself on the corner of Sunset and Gower street in Los Angeles, California. The Studio made numerous movies, but had to rent neighboring movie studios 'Back-lots' for outdoor shooting due to the lack of space at the Sunset lot. By the end of 1934 this problem was solved as Columbia had acquired a 40 acre lot on the other side of the Hollywood Hills in Burbank, at the corner of Hollywood Way and Oak Street, of what is said to have been the Burbank Motion Pictures Stables. It was the perfect "Back-Lot" as it was still rural enough to be landscaped as the studio needed it to be.
The Ranch plus the additional 40 acres in 1954
By the early part of 1935 shooting began for a colosal movie named 'Lost Horizon' and a massive set was constructed for the film near the corner of Verdugo Ave and Hollywood Way.
Columbia Ranch circa 1935
The massive set for Lost Horizon
Shortly after filming for Lost Horizon rapped up, construction reportedly began on a New York Street and Brownstone street for the movie The Whole Town's Talking in late 1935, but this is still being researched.

According to news reports, one of the largest outdoor sets ever erected for Columbia Pictures' was for the film 'Rolling Along' in 1935. Many films over the next few years utilized these sets. Around the same time several other sets and structures were build as well. The Western Streets and the Park were created, along with a suburban street and a modern street. A boat dock complete with a steamship and an Elevated Subway track were also constructed.

Early Serials, such as Blondie, Batman and the Superman shorts made use of these sets on a regular basis.

Western Street "A"
Brownstone Street.
On a map from circa 1929, streets like Greenland, Kenwood and Maple street still run through the area of what will become the Ranch. It shows the non-developed area on the west side of Pass Avenue to Clybourn street which was purchased in 1949, after the Ranch itself was already busteling with Western sets and New York streets, to use for "Outdoor scenes requiring primitive areas". But by the late 1950's the surrounding neigborhoods had already grown and the horizons no longer were bare enough to use as a backdrop, and so the lot sat vacant for almost 10 years. It was eventual sold in 1960 to a development company and now has apartment units sitting on it.
Click to view larger image.
In the 1960's, the Ranch was booming with business. Not only were movies being filmed on a regular basis, but with the new dawn of Television sets in almost every American home by now, more and more shows were being shot on the Ranch as well. Shows like "Father Knows Best", The Donna Reed Show", "Dennis the Menace", "Hazel", "The Farmers Daughter", "Our Man Higgins", "Gidget", "Bewitched", "I Dream of Jeannie", "The Flying Nun", "The Monkees", "Route 66" and many others were part of the daily order at the Ranch.
Stanley Holloway taking a break during filming of "Our Man Higgins"
"The Monkees" filming an episodes in front of the Little Egbert house
By 1970, most shows unfortunately had ended and the Ranch had falling in to slight disrepare. To make matters worse, a catastrophic fire in January of that year, destroyed a quarter of the lot. Half of the Western set, the Colonial/European set and parts of Blondie street burned down, including Blondie house itself. Although quickly rebuild, another fire in April, in the same area, and another fire in August of that year, put a financial strain on things.
By mid 1971, Columbia and Warner Bros studios decided to combine their forces in order to combat the financial troubles either one encountered and formed a merger under the name The Burbank Studios. In doing so, the Ranch became a true "Back-back Lot" as the Burbank Studios already had a massive backlot.
Although still active, the Ranch had fallen further in disrepare and structures and facades were just left to their faith. In 1974, 8 acres of the lot were sold off, at the corner of Hollywood Way and Verdugo, the area where the Lagoon and one of the Berms were located. While in the process of demolishing and during the annual Burbank Community Fair being held at the Ranch, on September 9th, 1974, the entire New York set burned down to the ground., including most of the Fair's rides and stands. One third of the Ranch was gone and would never be rebuild.
The chared remains of the massive New York street set after the fire. To the left, traces of what used to be the Lagoon area.
The Ranch has seen a lot of changes over the last 3 decades. As seen in the timelaps aerial shot below, the Western street dissapeared as well as the Colonial/European set. New structures were added as others were removed. Remember this is still a functional back lot and is used on a daily basis for shooting todays television shows and movies.
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