Lot sales began at the new town of Van Nuys on February 22, 1911. The area is named after Isaac Van Nuys, who was of Dutch descent and who founded the San Fernando Homestead Association in 1869, a group that purchased much of the land that now makes up the community. He also built the first wood frame house in the San Fernando Valley in 1872.
Van Nuys is in the heart of the San Fernando Valley and home to about 100,000 people; the main thoroughfare, Van Nuys Boulevard, is noted for its car dealerships. It also functions similar to a "county seat" for the Valley, with its Government Center (Erwin Street Mall) containing a branch of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Van Nuys police station, the Van Nuys offices for Los Angeles City Hall, Van Nuys State Office Building and a branch of the Los Angeles Public Library.
Van Nuys used to be the home for Van Nuys Assembly Plant, a major manufacturing facility for General Motors' Chevrolet division. When the plant was dismantled in 1998, the site was converted into a shopping mall called The Plant.
Like many central San Fernando Valley neighborhoods, Van Nuys was a middle-class neighborhood as late as the 1970s, but the demographics of the area have changed considerably since then.
In late 2004, the San Fernando Valley's first historic district was proposed for an area of early 20th Century bungalows north of Victory between Van Nuys Boulevard and Kester. According to the November 23, 2004, Los Angeles Times, "The neighborhood has become a melting pot of ethnic groups and home styles. Nearby stand such historic buildings as Van Nuys High School (1914), St. Elisabeth Catholic Church (1920) and the 12th Church of Christ Scientist (1932)."
In 2009, the Los Angeles Times's "Mapping L.A." project supplied these Van Nuys neighborhood statistics: population: 103,770; median household income: $41,134.
Grupo TACA operates a Van Nuys-area TACA Center at 6710 Van Nuys Boulevard.
Los Angeles Fire Department operates Station 39 (Van Nuys), Station 90 (Van Nuys Airport Area), Station 100 (West Van Nuys/Lake Balboa), and Station 102 (South Van Nuys/Valley Glen), serving the community.
The Los Angeles Police Department operates the nearby Van Nuys Community Police Station at 6420 Sylmar Avenue, 91401, serving the neighborhood .
The United States Postal Service operates the Civic Center Van Nuys Post Office at 6200 Van Nuys Boulevard in Van Nuys and the Van Nuys Post Office at 15701 Sherman Way in the Lake Balboa neighborhood in Los Angeles, west of Van Nuys.
Van Nuys is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
LAUSD-operated schools within the Van Nuys community area include:
In addition Charter High School for the Arts is located in Van Nuys.
Montclair College Preparatory School
Van Nuys Airport, the busiest general aviation airport in the world, the 25th busiest airport in the United States, and among the 20 busiest airports in the world by aircraft movements, is located in Van Nuys.