Originally home to Native Americans, some of whom left a cave of rock art, Chatsworth was explored and colonized by the Spanish beginning in the 18th Century. The land was part of a Mexican land grant in the 19th Century, and after the United States took over the land following the Mexican War, it was the largest such grant in California. Settlement and development followed.
Chatsworth has seven public and eight private schools. There are large open-space and smaller recreational parks as well as a public library and a transportation center. Distinctive features are the former Chatsworth Reservoir, the Santa Susana Field Laboratory and a number of private businesses.
The 2000 U.S. census counted 35,073 residents in the 15.24-square-mile Chatsworth neighborhood—or 2,301 people per square mile, among the lowest population densities for both the city and the county. In 2008, the city estimated that the population had increased to 37,102. In 2000 the median age for residents was 40, considered old for city and county neighborhoods; the percentages of residents aged 35 and older were among the county's highest.
The neighborhood was considered "moderately diverse" ethnically within Los Angeles, with a relatively high percentage of whites and of Asian people. The breakdown was whites, 65.7%; Latinos, 13.5%; Asians, 14.4%; blacks, 2.2%; and others, 4.2%. Korea (10.4%) and the Philippines (9.3%) were the most common places of birth for the 25.2% of the residents who were born abroad—a low figure for Los Angeles.
The median yearly household income in 2008 dollars was $84,456, considered high for the city. The percentages of families that earned more than $40,000 was considered high for the county. Renters occupied 28.9% of the housing stock, and house- or apartment-owners held 71.1%. The average household size of 2.6 people was considered average for Los Angeles.
In 2000 there were 2,933 military veterans, or 10.8% of the population, a high percentage compared to the rest of the city. The percentages of married people were among the county's highest. The rate of 10% of families headed by single parents was low for the city.
Chatsworth neighborhood as mapped by the Los Angeles Times
The first European explorers came into the Chatsworth area on August 5, 1769, led by the Spanish military leader Gaspar de Portolà. With its establishment in 1797 and subsequent Spanish Land Grant by the King of Spain, Mission San Fernando (Mission San Fernando Rey de España) gained dominion over the San Fernando Valley's lands, including future Chatsworth.
The Native American trail that had existed from the Tongva-Tatavium village called rancheria Santa Susana (Chatsworth) to another village, replaced by Mission San Fernando, became the route for missionaries and other Spanish travel up and down California. It was part of the El Camino del Santa Susana y Simi trail that connected the Valley's Mission, Los Angeles pueblo (town), and the southern missions with the Mission San Buenaventura, the Presidio of Monterey, and the northward missions. The trail crossed over the Santa Susana Pass to the Simi Valley, through present day city park Chatsworth Park South and the Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park. In 1795, the Spanish land grant had been issued for Rancho Simi, reconfirmed in 1842 by the Mexican governor. Its lands included part of current Chatsworth, westward from Andora Avenue.
The center of Chatsworth, 1911, on what is now Topanga Canyon Boulevard.
In 1869, the grantee's son, Eulogio F. de Celis, returned from Spain to Los Angeles. In 1874, the family sold their northern half of Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando to northern Californians, California State SenatorCharles Maclay and his partners George K. Porter, a San Francisco shoe manufacturer, and his brother Benjamin F. Porter. The Porters’ land was west of present day Sepulveda Boulevard including most of Chatsworth, and the Maclay land was east of Sepulveda Boulevard.
The Old Santa Susana Stage Road or Santa Susana Wagon Road continued in use as an alternative to the route along El Camino Viejo from 1861 to 1875, replacing the older road as the main route between Los Angeles and San Francisco. In 1876, the Southern Pacific Railroad opened a tunnel through the Newhall Pass, enabling rail connections from Los Angeles north to San Francisco, and rail travel soon replaced travel by stagecoach between Los Angeles and San Francisco. From this time, the stagecoach traffic to Santa Barbara once again used the coast route, and the Santa Susana Pass road was relegated to local traffic.
A new wagon route bypassing the deteriorating Devil's Slide was opened in 1895. Initially called El Camino Nuevo (the New Road), it was later named the Chatsworth Grade Road, which continued in use until Santa Susana Pass Road (now Old Santa Susana Pass Road) was built in 1917.
The Chatsworth Transportation Center also offers connections to several Los Angeles Metro, Simi Valley, and Santa Clarita bus routes. It is located at 10046 Old Depot Plaza Road, between Devonshire and Lassen streets.
Thirty-four percent of Chatsworth residents aged 25 and older had earned a four-year degree by 2000, an average percentage for the city.
Chatsworth Park North — includes more than 20 acres (81,000 m2) of the scenic Simi Hills and is operated by the Los Angeles Parks Department. has a baseball diamond, football field, and outdoor basketball courts, all lighted; volleyball courts, a children's play area, hiking trails, a jogging path, and picnic tables with barbecue pits. The park now has fencing that blocks visitors from climbing the large boulder outcrops, but Stoney Point Park and Chatsworth Park South are nearby for bouldering and rockclimbing.
Chatsworth Park South — includes more than 100 acres (0.40 km2) of the rocky landmark Simi Hills.Chatsworth Park South is adjacent to the Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park, a 174-acre (0.70 km2) National Register of Historic Places property consisting of historic features and deposits, prehistoric village site remnants, and portions of the Old Santa Susana Stage Road, which was the main route for mail and travelers between Los Angeles and San Francisco from 1861 until the opening of rail connections between the two cities in 1876. The stage route was also declared Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #92 (designated January 5, 1972) and Ventura County Historical Landmark #104 (designated October 21, 1986). The park has miles of horseback, jogging, and hiking trails, picnic tables and barbecue pits, and bouldering outcrops.
Chatsworth Recreation Center facilities are located within the lower area of Chatsworth Park South, with lighted indoor basketball courts, lighted outdoor basketball courts, a children's play area, an indoor gymnasium, a stage, and lighted tennis courts.
The Minnie Hill Palmer House, one of the West Valley's historic original homestead houses, is in Chatsworth Park South for visits and the Chatsworth Historical Society archives.
The park has been closed since February 2008 due to contamination discovered from when the park used to be a shooting range for Will Rogers.
Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park (SSPSHP) — a large natural area adjacent to and above the town's western side. The Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park protects and offers a historical site of the late 19th century, when Chatsworth was on a main thoroughfare for the figures of the American West. Joaquin Murrieta and his bandits hid out in the rocky crevices around Stoney Point. The Old Stagecoach Trail above Chatsworth to the west, is now a popular hiking trail in the Simi Hills. It goes through Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park and Chatsworth Park South and by Chatsworth Oaks Park. The State Park is open to the public with several parking and trailhead areas and many hiking and view opportunities.
Chatsworth Oaks Park — an approximately 3-acre (1.2 ha) natural open space park. It has barbecue pits, a children's play area, and picnic tables near the parking area. Visitors may ride bicycles and hike in the park, which has no established trails but links to nearby Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park. The park overlooks the Chatsworth Nature Preserve, with birdwatching opportunities.
Stoney Point Park — at Stoney Point is a natural rock outcropping, geographic promontory landmark and legendary bouldering and rock climbing location on 76-acre (31 ha). The boulders at Stoney Point Park merge and form alcoves, caves, and dens. The park also has bridle paths, hiking trails, and connections to adjacent parks to the north. Stoney Point is the site of the Tongva settlement named Asha'awanga or Momonga.
Chatsworth Trails Park — in the Santa Susana Mountains foothills just north of the 118 Freeway with parking at 11200 Mayan Drive. Chatsworth Trails Park has miles of horseback, hiking, and mountain biking trails and is also a hub connecting to the huge Michael D. Antonovich Regional Park at Joughin Ranch, the Indian Springs Open Space Park, and Rocky Peak Park at Rocky Peak. The Rim of the Valley Trail passes through here, with trailhead access.
Sage Ranch Park — overlooks Chatsworth from its 2,000-foot (610 m) high ridges in the Simi Hills near the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. It is a new open space park at the end of Woolsey Canyon Road. Sage Ranch Park has campsites, walking and hiking trails, and panoramic views of the San Fernando and Simi Valleys.
Mason Park — offers barbecue pits, lighted and unlighted baseball diamond, children's play area, and picnic tables.
Mason Recreation Center — has an indoor gymnasium that may also be used as a 400-capacity auditorium.
Mason Child Care Center — is licensed to have from up to 30 children of ages three and up to 60 school age children in educational and recreational activities at the center.
A distinctive feature in Chatsworth is the Chatsworth Dam and reservoir. Originally built in 1918 as part of the Los Angeles Aqueduct system, the property belongs to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Due to concern over its seismic safety, it was allowed to drain after the 1971 San Fernando earthquake. Chatsworth Oaks Park and the Chatsworth Nature Preserve are located here giving views of migrating birds and other animals, and their sounds such as the coyotes calling in the evening. The views of the rocky and dramatic Simi Hills surround the open space.
Chatsworth Reservoir is classified by the Los Angeles Times as a city neighborhood, but "because there are relatively few homes in this area," the Times does not provide separate statistics for it but adds them to Chatsworth. The Devonshire and Topanga stations of the Los Angeles Police Department provide services in the area.
Chatsworth is the home of the National Notary Association and the headquarters for Premier America (Formerly Litton Federal Credit Union) and Matadors Community Credit Union.
^Kenneth Lubas (1971-01-31). "Indians Trying To Safeguard Cave Paintings of Ancestors: Mission Tribe Will Ask Rocketdyne To Enclose Historic Works in Glass for Protection Against Any Vandalism". Los Angeles Times.