Why is Lincoln Street So Wide?

by Wes Clark

A discussion has broken out between me, my co-author Mike and Corey, another member of the Burbank High Class of 1974. It has to do with the street I was raised on, North Lincoln Street, in Burbank, California. Here it is via Google Street View. My old house is the one with the pool in the backyard. (We built the pool in 1969.) It is strictly a residential street, but it is w-i-d-e. Eighty feet wide, in fact. The question has always come up among Burbankers, Why is Lincoln Street so wide? It's as wide as nearby parallel Buena Vista Street, a major thoroughfare (and where Disney gets the name "Buena Vista" for so many of its companies and divisions since Disney headquarters is on that street.)

A major Lockheed plant - "B-1" - used to be up the street (my father and I worked there), so the usual explanation is that it was built wide so that Lockheed could transport planes and other big stuff as needed from time to time. But this is easily proven false. (1) Lockheed didn't arrive in Burbank until February, 1928, and that was into a little facility nowhere near Lincoln Street. This aerial photo from January 1, 1928 - before Lockheed moved into town and well before they could influence how streets were designed - clearly shows Lincoln Street as being wide. (Lincoln is the street just to the right of the squashed diamond-shaped park where I spent much of my childhood.) My house was built in 1940, so it's not in this photo. (2) When Lockheed finishes a plane they fly it away to customers, not transport it via city streets. So Lockheed had nothing to do with why Lincoln Street is so wide. Myth busted!

Was Lincoln Street perhaps made wide as a result of Vickroy Park being built between 1924 and 1925 (the land for it was deeded over from the owner to the city in September 1924)? Apparently not. A tract drawing of a survey taken in December 1923 shows Lincoln Street (called here Lincoln Boulevard) as being 80 feet wide even then. Lot 237 would later become Vickroy Park. And Lincoln Street is still wide considerably north of the park, throwing out that supposition.

It is interesting to note that in this 1924 map Lincoln Street is shown in red as a "best automobile route." Why? Probably because it crosses the railroad tracks and is unbroken north of Central Avenue (later, Burbank Boulevard) to San Fernando Road, Burbank's main street. Or because it's wide! Note, however, that while Lincoln Street is continuous and uninterrupted north of Central Avenue, it is broken up south of it. Buena Vista Street, on the other hand, is continuous considerably south - which may be why it later became the major street. (On the north end, Buena Vista Street ended at the property owned by former heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries. In 1941 his wife was killed in a traffic accident there.)

So... was Lincoln Street made wide because it (and not parallel Buena Vista Street) was once intended to be the major street? The Presidential name suggests it. Or did it become a designated major street because it was wide - for whatever reason - to begin with? We do not have enough information at this time. Perhaps something enlightening will turn up.

And that's the kind of thing I sometimes occupy my time with!

By the way, in 1933 a celebrated murder took place on Lincoln Street.

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