Pacoima is a neighborhood in Los Angeles, California, in the northeastern San Fernando Valley. It is bordered by the Los Angeles districts of Mission Hills on the west, Arleta on the south, Sun Valley on the southeast, Lake View Terrace on the northeast, and by the city of San Fernando on the north. Major thoroughfares include San Fernando Road and Laurel Canyon and Van Nuys Boulevards. The Golden State and Ronald Reagan freeways run through the district.
Pacoima's first inhabitants were the semi-nomadic Tongva and Tataviam Native American tribes. In 1797, Spanish colonists built the nearby Mission San Fernando Rey, but the Pacoima area remained without permanent settlement until 1887. In that year, former Republican California State Assemblyman and California State Senator Charles MacLay purchased 56,000 acres (227 km˛) in the area with a loan of $117,500 from a friend, U.S. Senator Leland Stanford (president of the Southern Pacific Railroad, former Governor of California, and founder of Stanford University). MacLay proceeded to subdivide the tract into agricultural parcels, most of which were used for the production of Southern California staples such as citrus, nuts, beans, wheat, and vegetables. As was the case in most of the San Fernando Valley, the lure of plentiful, cheap water from the Los Angeles Aqueduct proved irresistible to Pacoima's farmers, and the district was annexed by Los Angeles in 1921.
By the 1950s, the rapid suburbanization of the San Fernando Valley had come to Pacoima, and the area changed almost overnight from a dusty farming area to a bedroom community for the fast-growing industries in Los Angeles and nearby Burbank and Glendale, with transportation access provided by the Golden State Freeway. The erosion of segregation barriers and the development of Orange County and the western San Fernando Valley drew away much of the area's white population from the 1970s onward, and Pacoima was one of the first areas of the San Fernando Valley to have a majority-Hispanic population. Since the late 1970s, it has been one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city of Los Angeles, and has suffered from severe crime (although the 2000s have seen some abatement of gang activity).
Pacoima's gangs are considered by many analysts to be more terrifying than their counterparts anywhere else in the city of Los Angeles, as they have a well-documented tendency to shoot pedestrians on sidewalks at random. Such violence is usually preceded by the perfunctory gang challenge, "Where you from?"
Well-known Pacoima natives include:
- Pacoima information site (http://www.geocities.com/pacoima_california)
- Tongva ("Gabrielino") History (http://www.paccd.cc.ca.us/classes/envsci/lariverproj/Indians.htm)
- Tataviam website (http://www.tataviam.org)