Los Angeles: San Fernando Valley | 1

Reseda

Pershing Square and the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles

With due respect to all other valleys, the ‘San Fernando’ is virtually redundant – this is The Valley. Home of Valley Speak and the strip mall, a vast flat plain laid out in a hypnotically orderly grid.

Every suburban house in the Valley is home to a surgically enhanced housewife in a flimsy housecoat awaiting the arrival of a studly plumber (though few drains ever seem to get unblocked).

This is, of course, the centre of the suburban porn industry, as documented in Paul Thomas Anderson’s dynamic Boogie Nights. This is local boy PTA’s territory, with Magnolia named after one of its main east-west avenues, and Punch-Drunk Love’s office, up on Canoga Avenue in Chatsworth.

Foxfire Room, Magnolia Boulevard, Studio City

Pershing Square and the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles

The Foxfire Room, 12516 Magnolia Boulevard, at Whitsett Avenue in Valley Village, north of Studio City, is the bar in which quiz kid Donnie (William H Macy) declares his love for Brad the Barman in – yes – Magnolia.

In Reseda, you can see the building which was transformed for Boogie Nights into ‘Hot Traxx’ disco at 18419 Sherman Way at Canby Avenue (it’s now used as a church). A little to the west, it’s in front another – though purpose-built – church, St Catherine of Siena, 18115 Sherman Way, that a down-on-his-luck Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) gets beaten up; while a little to the west you’ll find Miss Donuts, 18231 Sherman Way, where Buck Swope (Don Cheadle) stumbles upon the botched robbery.

South Seas Apartments, Saticoy Street, Reseda

Pershing Square and the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles

Toward the west of the Valley, 19223 Saticoy Street, opposite Sylvia Avenue in Reseda, is instantly recognisable as the South Seas apartment block of Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) in the original The Karate Kid.

Carl's Jr, Saticoy Street, Canoga Park

Pershing Square and the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles

A little further west, you’ll find the Canoga Park branch of Carl’s Jr, 20105 Saticoy Street, at Winnetka Avenue, which was transformed into ‘Mr Smiley’, where Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) gets a job serving up burgers – “I think you’ll remember me this time!” – in American Beauty.

The Valley is a bit short on historic sites and breathtaking architecture, but with Universal, Warner Bros and Disney all having studios here, it’s something of a giant backlot, haphazardly dotted with numerous movie locations. Not to mention the studio tours.

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Visit the locations


  • The Foxfire Room, 12516 Magnolia Boulevard, at Whitsett Avenue, Valley Village, CA 91607 (tel: 818.766.1344)