Simi Valley is an incorporated city located in the southeast corner of Ventura County, California, bordering the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles in the Greater Los Angeles Area. According to the United States Bureau of the Census estimate, the city had a total population of 118,687 in 2005 .
Simi Valley is presently known as the home of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The city gained notoriety as the location of the infamous 1992 trial of the four Los Angeles Police officers accused of beating Rodney King that sparked riots in Los Angeles on April 29, 1992.
In some past instances the hills surrounding Simi Valley were chosen as locations for religious and communal cults such as Pisgah Grande, the Blackburn Cult and the WKFL Fountain of the World led by Krishna Venta. Charles Manson and his 'family' lived at the Spahn Movie Ranch on the east side of the Santa Susana pass road near Chatsworth, an adjacent neighborhood within the city limits of Los Angeles.
Simi Valley is located at 34°16'16" North, 118°44'22" West (34.271078, -118.739428) with an elevation of 700 - 1,000 feet (210 - 300 m) above sea level.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 102.1 km² (39.4 mi²). 101.5 km² (39.2 mi²) of it is land and 0.6 km² (0.2 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.63% water.
Simi Valley is located 3 miles (4.83 km) north of the city of Los Angeles' Border community of Chatsworth and 40 miles (64.4 km) from Downtown Los Angeles, 380 miles (611.6 km) south of San Francisco, 160 miles (257.5 km) north of San Diego, and 350 miles (563.3 km) south of Sacramento. Commutes to Los Angeles are usually via the Ronald Reagan 118 Freeway or the Southern California Metrolink Commuter Train, which makes several daily trips from Simi Valley.
Simi Valley borders the Santa Susana Mountains to the north, Simi Hills to the east and south. Simi Valley is connected to the nearby San Fernando Valley by the Santa Susana Pass in the extreme east of Simi Valley.
Simi Valley was once inhabited by Chumash Indians. Along the coast they had an abundant supply of fish from the ocean. They ate seeds from sage, acorns from the oak trees, berries, and small animals. They were very skilled in making wooden bowls. Some writers[who?] think that the name of Simi Valley came from the Chumash word "Shimiji", meaning "Valley of the Winds."
El Rancho Simi was the earliest Spanish colonial land grant within Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. It was one of the largest lands, but later when Mexico became independent from Spain, land was handed out much more freely. The small colonial town known as "Santa Susana del Rancho Simi" thrived in the late 19th century and had a Spanish-speaking majority, but many Anglo-Americans arrived to settle lands into farms, orchards and groves dominated the valley's landscape until the 1970s.
For a brief time, its postal address was known as Simiopolis, though it was soon shortened again to Simi by 1910. The first public school was built in 1890 in the northeast but was torn down in 1926. There was also a great deal of destruction caused by a flood in 1952. The city incorporated as Simi Valley in 1969, when the area had only 10,000 residents. In 1972, Boys Town West was founded in the eastern end of Simi Valley. The youth camp/home facility is based on an older larger one in Boys Town, Nebraska.
On November 27, 1991 Judge Stanley Weisberg of the California Court of Appeals selected Simi Valley as the venue for the case against four officers of the Los Angeles Police Department. The officers (Stacey Koon, Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, and Theodore Brisenio) were accused of using unnecessary force in a March 3, 1991 beating of an African-American motorist "Rodney" Glen King. The case known as the Rodney King Trial was based on footage recorded on home video recorded by a bystander (George Holliday). The now famous video was broadcast nationally and caused tremendous response because the beating was believed to be racially motivated.
On April 29, 1992 a Ventura County jury acquitted three of the four officers (Koon, Wind, and Brisenio) and did not reach a verdict on one (Powell). Many belived that the unexpected outcome was a result of the racial and social make-up of the jury, which, reflecting the area's population demographic, included ten whites, one Filipino, and one Hispanic. None were Simi Valley residents. Among the jury were three who had been security guards or in military service. The acquittal led to the 1992 Los Angeles riots and mass protest around the country.
Southern California has a high fire risk, due to hot weather and high winds.
A 2005 fire started on September 28th and burned an estimated 7,000 acres (28 km²). On September 29th, the fire was estimated to be 17,000 acres (69 km²). More than 1,000 firefighters worked against the tricky combination of dry brush, low humidity and temperatures in the high 90s along the line that divides Los Angeles and Ventura counties. About 45 evacuees gathered at Canoga Park High School in the San Fernando Valley where the Red Cross had set up cots and provided meals. One firefighter was struck on the head by a 40-pound boulder and was taken to a hospital, officials said. The fire was later brought under control and extinguished, without serious injury. Three homes were lost in outlying areas, but none within the city limits.
NO. 939 Twentieth Century Folk Art Environments (Thematic) - Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village - This fantastic assemblage is one of California's remarkable Twentieth Century Folk Art Environments. In 1956, Tressa Prisbrey, then nearly sixty years old, started building a fanciful 'village' of shrines, walkways, sculptures, and buildings from recycled items and discards from the local dump. She worked for 25 years creating one structure after another to house her collections. The Mosaic Walkway is embedded with thousands of treasures—tiles, shells, doorknobs, irons, car ornaments, jewelry, dishware, scissors, guns, toys—everything imaginable that creates a timestamp of 1950s post consumer waste. Originally, Bottle Village had more than 13 buildings and 20 sculptures. Although severely damaged during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. It is located at 4595 Cochran St, Simi Valley.
NO. 979 Rancho Simi - This is the site of the headquarters of the Spanish Rancho San José de Nuestra Senora de Altagarcia y Simi. The name derives from 'Shimiji,' the name of the Chumash village here before the Spanish. At 113,000 acres (457 km²), Rancho Simi was one of the state's largest land grants. Two prominent Spanish and Mexican family names are connected with the Rancho: Santiago Pico who first received the grant, and José de la Guerra who purchased the Rancho in 1842. Two rooms of original adobe remain, part of the Strathearn home built in. Location: Robert P Strathearn Historical Park, 137 Strathearn Place, Simi Valley. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places: NPS-78000825
Simi Valley is also home to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, which has been visited by more than 1 million people since it opened. After a major state funeral in Washington, D.C., President Reagan was buried at the library in June 2004.
Being located so near to Hollywood, Simi Valley has long been a convenient location for the film industry. Simi Valley and the surrounding hills have been the site of several television series, including the long running television series Gunsmoke and M*A*S*H.
The 1982 film Poltergeist was filmed in Roxbury Street, Simi Valley. At the time, the homes were new and the land behind the street was free, allowing plenty of access for the studio trucks. The Freeling house as used in the film (4267 Roxbury Street) received substantial earthquake damage in the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
The popular 70s television show Little House on the Prairie was filmed at extensive sets built up in the hilly landscapes of the Big Sky Ranch in the Tapo Canyon hills north of Simi Valley. In addition to the Little House itself, the entire set for the town of Walnut Grove was built atop the hills.
In 1983, Colleen McCullough's TV mini-series, The Thorn Birds, was brought to life in a remote corner of the Simi Valley. Australia proved to have too many obstacles for the producers to handle, including that there could only be two American actors in any movie filmed there. All the rest had to be Australian. Location scouts were sent out, and Simi Valley, which looks very similar in parts to the Australian countryside, was chosen to build the set of the famous Cleary ranch and sheep station, Drogheda.
In the 1984 film "Bachelor Party" starring Tom Hanks, the MANN 6 Movie Theater formerly located within the Sycamore Shopping Center was used for the movie theater scene.
The 1986 western comedy film ¡Three Amigos! was partially filmed here.
The Playtronics Toy company and its car park scenes from Sneakers were filmed at the Countrywide Loans Data Processing - Admin Plant at 400 Countrywide Way.
The delivery of the ransom money in The Big Lebowski shows a highway sign naming Simi Valley.
The video for Bullet with Butterfly Wings by The Smashing Pumpkins was filmed in Simi Valley.
In the 1992 film "Forever Young" starring Mel Gibson the test airstrip scenes and the highway chase scene were filmed on the west end of Simi Valley bordering Moorpark.
Most of the 2003 film adaptation of The Cat in the Hat starring Mike Myers and Dakota Fanning was filmed in Simi Valley. The elaborate faux suburb where most of the film takes place was built on vacant land in a hilly area in West Simi Valley.
The video for "Hexagram," by The Deftones was filmed with fans watching the band play the song in an indoor skatepark in Simi Valley.
The skatepark in the 2005 movie Bad News Bears is in Simi Valley.
Nu-Metal band Limp Bizkit filmed the music video for the single "Break Stuff" at Skatelab, a skate park in Simi Valley.
The 2006 comedy The Benchwarmers was filmed on location in Knolls park and Santa Susana park, both located in Simi Valley.
In March 2008, GI Joe starting filming in the northern hills above Simi Valley, near the Little House on the Prairie site.