Burbank sits on land that has history almost as old as the United States itself. Its origins were part of two Spanish land grants, Rancho San Rafael, granted in 1798, and Rancho La Providencia, granted in 1821.
It was shortly after the War Between the States, in 1867, that Dr. David Burbank, a dentist from New Hampshire, bought parcels of both ranches in order to pursue a new future as a sheep rancher. Nearly twenty years later Dr. Burbank began selling portions of his property in a variety of land deals-first to the Southern Pacific Railroad and later to the Providencia Land, Water, and Development Company-both of which brought people and progress to the area. The new town of Burbank, had its first lots for sale in the Spring of 1887. The City of Burbank was incorporated in 1911.
By 1930 Burbank’s 1500 residents could proudly boast of its newspaper, radio station, library and bank, as well as several commercial ventures, the Moreland Truck Company, Lockheed Aircraft, First National Studio (now Warner Brothers) and Andrew Jergens Company among them. Also in 1930 was the dedication of the United Airport, where Boeing built its planes; several name changes and decades later the airport is now known as the Bob Hope Airport.
Much of the growth of Burbank echoes that of the entertainment industry. By 1940 Warner Bros, Columbia Pictures and Walt Disney Studios all had locations in Burbank. In the next two decades they were joined by television’s NBC, and the phrase, “Beautiful Downtown Burbank” became a familiar refrain in TV-tied American households.
Growing side by side the entertainment industry in early twentieth century Burbank, was the aviation industry. Lockheed Aircraft Company made its headquarters in Burbank in the early 1920's, and over the next few decades added greatly to its own as well as Burbank's growth. In 1940, Lockheed purchased Burbank's Union Air Terminal, continuing its commercial air flights as well as its private company uses.
In 1978, the tri-city Airport Authority purchased the Lockheed Airport, renaming it the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport. Three miles northwest of the center of Burbank, it was renamed the Bob Hope Airport in 2003, shortly after the actor's death. Today, the Bob Hope Airport is one of the fastest growing airports in the United States, and it serves many of the major airlines, including US Airways, United, Delta, Southwest, Jet Blue and several others.
With the growth of the airport and the entertainment industry, Burbank became a center for business and tourism. World-class hotels, trendy bars, fine restaurants, renown museums, and fun attractions are all located within Burbank city limits. In 2007, Burbank was named as one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People in the United States.
Wes Clark has some more great details about Burbank's history.