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Burbank unearths 50-year-old time capsule

February 5, 2009 |  1:21 pm

Lanow

With a hammer and chisel, a Burbank city worker this morning carved out a tiny silver time capsule 50 years after it was first tucked into the base of the Magnolia Bridge.

"It was there -- we found it," said deputy city manager Joy Forbes, excitement and relief bubbling through her voice.

City officials did not know the capsule was due to be opened on Feb. 5, 2009, until Larry Harnisch at the Times' Los Angeles history blog e-mailed them over the weekend. City workers hustled to find the location of the time capsule. When they pried off the dedication plaque on the base of the bridge, near 1st Street and Magnolia Boulevard, they found a darker patch of cement.

Around 10:30 this morning, city officials gave the hammer and chisel to Stan Lynch, a 64-year-old Burbank resident who was there in 1959 when the capsule and bridge were dedicated. Lynch said he walked the half-mile from his house to the dedication ceremony 50 years ago because, frankly, "There wasn't a lot to do back in 1959."

He noted that a few things have changed in the area: The department store Burcal and several camera shops have closed. Obviously, the mall is new. But, he added, "Strangely enough, the feel of the city, the small-town feel Burbank always had, it's still there."

Lynch, an adult school substitute teacher in Burbank, said he had been telling people for years that there was a time capsule buried in that bridge. City officials said they didn't know there was one. His friends didn't believe him. So when he handed over the hammer and chisel to a city public works employee and watched him carve out the capsule, about the size of a can of soda, he felt vindicated.

"They talked about maybe putting a capsule in there to replace it and opening it in another 50 years," Lynch said. "I hope to be able to see that."

The 1959 Times blurb said the silver-plated lead capsule contained "35-mm films of various buildings, schools and the new city golf course." Burbank officials plan to take the capsule to a professional imaging and film lab next week to be opened. Forbes said they want to make sure a specialist can repair the film if time has damaged it. Prints could be made by the end of the month.

"It looks to be in good condition," she said, noting that the city has at least two other time capsules and plans to keep better track of when they're due to be opened.

-- Jia-Rui Chong

Photo: Burbank city officials remove a 50-year-old miniature time capsule that was encased in concrete in the Magnolia Bridge in 1959.

Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

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