Once the site of the world’s second largest olive groves, Sylmar, which means “Sea of Trees,” is situated just east of Interstate 5 and north of the city of San Fernando. Long before the areas was settled by the Spaniards, this was another home for the Tongva Indians. When the Spaniards arrived, Father Iballa, from the nearby Mission, recognized the similarity of the climate and soil to that found in the best olive growing regions of Europe. By 1890, some businessmen from Illinois had bought up 2,000 acres of the land in the area and began a business of packing and selling the olives, which were known throughout the state for their sweetness and purity.

The ideal climate turned out to also be good for the treatment of respiratory problems and a tuberculosis sanitarium was opened in 1920, though it was destroyed by a fire in 1962. The 1971 Sylmar Earthquake destroyed the replacement medical center just after it was open. The current Olive View-UCLA Medical Center now stands in their place and has been there since 1987. Though Sylmar shares many similar weather characteristics of the rest of the Valley, including dry sunny weather and minimal precipitation, the smog levels are generally lower as a result of the winds along the foothills that edge up one side of the community.

Sylmar has been ravaged by a number of natural disasters, from the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake and 1994 Northridge Earthquake, the community suffered hundreds of millions in damages, not to mention a number of deaths and countless injures. The district was again under siege from natural forces in 2008, when a massive wildfire, known as the Sayer Fire, burned its way along the foothills of Sylma. It destroyed almost 500 residences and burned over 11,000 acres.

Like many others, the district has its own Recreation Center, which also functions as an LAPD stop-in center. It has auditoriums, a lighted baseball diamond, lighted basketball and tennis courts, a children’s play area, a community room, an indoor gymnasium and an unlighted soccer field, as well as picnic tables. Nearby, there is also the El Cariso Community Regional Park which has another lighted baseball diamond, basketball and tennis courts, children’s play areas, a community building and even horsehoe pits. There’s also a kitchen area and picnic tables and a swimming pool. The Veterans Memorial Park has less organized sports venues, but offers barbeques and picnic areas as well as a camping grounds and public toilets.