Culver City History

Before the Spanish settled California, native Americans traversed the fertile valleys surrounding their home in Yagna, today's Los Angeles. They lived off the land's rich resources, harvesting materials for their baskets and huts, hunting small game, and spearing fish from their broadboats on the creek known now as La Ballona. 
The early Spanish settlers called these indigenous people the Gabrielinos after the San Gabriel Mission they established in 1771. The Mission and surrounding land were protected by Spanish volunteers sent by the California governor. Many stayed on, married, raised families and started grazing cattle near the Los Angeles pueblo. Agustin Machado, a descendent of one of the mission's original families, embarked on a historic dawn to dusk horseback ride in 1820 staking claim to 14,000 acres of prime ranch land that would be called Rancho La Ballona. This land, owned by Agustin, his brother Ygnacio and father and son Felipe and Tomas Talamantes, along with another large ranch, Rancho Rincon de los Bueyes or “Cattle Corner,” owned by the Higuera and Lopez families, would become the area known today as Culver City.
After California achieved statehood in 1850, the expansive Rancho La Ballona was subdivided and owned by many different families. With more families came the founding of the La Ballona School District, a post office and storefronts. A city was in the wings, just waiting to be "born."
Harry Culver moved to Southern California in 1910, worked for real estate developer I.N. Van Nuys for a short time, then set out on his own to scout various locations to develop in the Los Angeles area. In 1913, he announced his plan for a city that would lie halfway between the pueblo of Los Angeles and Abbot Kinney's resort of Venice in 1913. It was on the banks of La Ballona Creek that Harry Culver spotted noted filmmaker, Thomas Ince, making one of his famous westerns, with painted Indians in canoes. Culver studied the area, its climate, and location for a year before he successfully enticed Ince to move his studios to the city that would soon bear his name. Ince’s Triangle Studios was built in 1915, a formal colonnade defining the entrance (the landmark colonnade is still a historic part of today’s Sony Pictures Studio lot).

Culver City seal.

Harry Culver at age 33.