Porter Ranch is one of the newest parts of Los Angeles. It is bounded by Chatsworth on the south and west, Northridge on the south, and Granada Hills on the north and east. The Santa Susana Mountains, which separate the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys, lie to the north. The principal thoroughfares are Corbin Ave., Porter Ranch Drive, Tampa Ave. and Reseda Blvd., running north-south, and Sesnon Blvd., Rinaldi St. and the Ronald Reagan Freeway (State Route 118), running east and west. The Porter Ranch ZIP code is 91326.
Porter Ranch had a population of 24,923 in 2000, according to the U.S. Census, and 30,571 in 2008, based on L.A. Department of City Planning estimates. With 5.59 square miles and 4,462 people per square mile, it is among the lowest densities for the City of Los Angeles but about average for the county. It is served by Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council and Chatsworth Porter Ranch Chamber of Commerce.
In the late 19th century, Benjamin Porter purchased a part of the Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando land grant in the foothills of the Santa Susanas above Northridge. Primarily wheat fields for its first several decades, the relatively isolated area later became the site of numerous movie stars' horse ranches. As with the rest of the San Fernando Valley, suburban development eventually came to Porter Ranch.
However, the area was the last portion of the San Fernando Valley within the Los Angeles city limits to be developed, with major construction not occurring until the 1970s. Large portions of the 1982 blockbuster film E.T. the Extra-terrestrial were filmed in Porter Ranch. The Steven Spielberg classic includes several shots looking down on the Porter Ranch neighborhood beneath the ridge in Palisades Park. Brasilia Dr., Killimore Ave. and Granada Circle appear most often in E.T. Porter Ridge Park, at the north end of Reseda Blvd., was used for the famous park scene at the end of the movie. That park is now known by locals as "E.T. Park."
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, there were two horse and rider statues which marked the unofficial entrance to Porter Ranch. One was located on the North West corner of Tampa and Devonshire. The other was on the North East corner of Devonshire and Tunney. They were eventually removed to allow more residential development. There were reports about one of the statues being found in a trash dumpster many years later, although the actual whereabouts of the statues has remained a mystery.
Much of Porter Ranch is master-planned new communities, with many gated areas, and was developed by Nathan Shapell, Chairman & CEO of Shapell Industries, along with brother, David, and brother-in-law, Max Webb. Born in Poland, Nathan Shapell spent World War II as a prisoner of the infamous Buchenwald and Auschwitz Concentration Camps where most of his family was killed. After WWII he helped thousands of Holocaust survivors in Germany, building housing complexes for the displaced war survivors, and representing them before American military panels that decided on their applications to immigrate to the United States. He became one of the region's biggest homebuilders and a major philanthropist in California, the United States, and Israel. He died in 2007 at age 85.
Today, Porter Ranch is mostly gated communities of single-family homes. Most residents commute by car to business hubs of Simi Valley, Downtown Los Angeles and the commercial hub of Woodland Hills, at the San Fernando Valley's southwest corner. The community is also close to the Chatsworth and Northridge Metrolink stations that link to Downtown Los Angeles and Ventura County.