- For other uses, see Hollywood (disambiguation)
Hollywood is a district of the City of Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., that runs from about Vermont Avenue on the east to just beyond Laurel Canyon Boulevard above Sunset and Crescent Heights Boulevards on the west; the north to south boundary east of La Brea Avenue runs from about Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills of the Santa Monica Mountains and Griffith Park to Melrose Avenue ; and the north to south boundary west of La Brea runs from about Mulholland in the hills to Fountain Avenue, with Crescent Heights as the west boundary south of Sunset Boulevard. The population of the district is estimated at about 300,000 people.
Due to its fame and identity as a major center of movie studios and stars, the word "Hollywood" is often used colloquially to refer to the American motion picture industry in Southern California, a term deriving from the famous community. But despite its fame as a motion picture city, many of the entertainment company headquarters are situated in Burbank, California.
In 1853, one adobe hut stood on the site that became Hollywood. By 1870, an agricultural community flourished in the area with thriving crops. In the 1880s, Harvey Henderson Wilcox of Kansas, who made a fortune in real estate even though he had lost the use of his legs due to typhoid fever, and his wife, Daeida, moved to Los Angeles from Topeka. In 1886, Wilcox bought 160 acres (0.6 km²) of land in the countryside to the west of the city at the foothills and the Cahuenga Pass.
Accounts of the name, Hollywood, coming from imported English holly then growing in the area are incorrect. The name actually came about because Daeida Wilcox went on a trip to the East, and while on the train she met a woman who spoke of her country home in Ohio named after a Dutch settlement called "Hollywood." Daeida liked the sound of it and when she returned to Southern California she gave the name to her and her husband's ranch. A locally popular (though disputed) etymology is that the name Hollywood traces to the ample stands of native Toyon, or "California Holly," that cover the hillsides.
Wilcox soon drew up a grid map for a town, which he filed with the county recorder's office on February 1, 1887, the first official appearance of the name Hollywood. With his wife as a constant advisor, he carved out Prospect Avenue (later Hollywood Boulevard) for the main street, lining it and the other wide dirt avenues with pepper trees, and began selling lots. Daeida raised money to build two churches, a school and a library. They imported some English holly because of the name Hollywood, but the bushes did not last.
By 1900, Hollywood also had a post office, a newspaper, a hotel and two markets, along with a population of 500 people. Los Angeles, with a population of 100,000 people, lay seven miles (11 km) east through the citrus groves. A single-track streetcar line ran down the middle of Prospect Avenue from the city, but service was infrequent and the trip took two hours. The old citrus fruit packing house would be converted into a livery stable, improving transportation for the inhabitants of Hollywood.
The first section of the famous Hollywood Hotel, the first major hotel in Hollywood, was opened in 1902 by a subdivider eager to sell residential lots among the lemon ranches then lining the foothills. Flanking the west side of Highland Avenue, the structure fronted on Prospect Avenue. Still a dusty, unpaved road, it was regularly graded and graveled.
Hollywood was incorporated as a municipality in 1903. Among the town ordinances was one prohibiting the sale of liquor except by pharmacists and one outlawing the driving of cattle through the streets in herds of more than two hundred. In 1904, a new trolley car track running from Los Angeles to Hollywood up Prospect Avenue was opened. The system was called "the Hollywood boulevard." It cut travel time to and from the city drastically.
In 1910, because of an ongoing struggle to secure an adequate water supply, the townsmen voted for Hollywood to be annexed to the City of Los Angeles, as the water system of the growing city had opened the Los Angeles Aqueduct and was piping water down from the Owens River in the Owens Valley. Another reason for the vote was that Hollywood could have access to drainage through the city's sewer system.
With annexation, the name of Prospect Avenue was changed to Hollywood Boulevard and all the street numbers in the new district changed; 100 Prospect Avenue, at Vermont Avenue, became 6400 Hollywood Boulevard; and 100 Cahuenga Boulevard, at Hollywood Boulevard, changed to 1700 Cahuenga Boulevard.
Hollywood and the motion picture industry
In the early 1900s, motion picture production companies from New York and New Jersey started moving to sunny California because of the good weather and longer days. Although electric lights existed at that time, none were powerful enough to adequately expose film; the best source of illumination for movie production was natural sunlight. Besides the moderate, dry climate, they were also drawn to the state because of its open spaces and wide variety of natural scenery.
Another reason was the distance of Southern California from New Jersey, which made it more difficult for Thomas Edison to enforce his motion picture patents. At the time, Edison owned almost all the patents relevant to motion picture production and, in the East, movie producers acting independently of Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company were often sued or enjoined by Edison and his agents. Thus, movie makers working on the West Coast could work independent of Edison's control. If he sent agents to California, word would usually reach Los Angeles before the agents did and the movie makers could escape to nearby Mexico.
The first movie studio in the Hollywood area, Nestor Studios, was founded in 1911 by Al Christie for David Horsley in an old building on the southeast corner of Sunset Boulevard and Gower Street. In the same year, another fifteen Independents settled in Hollywood. Creators of dreams began arriving by the thousands; cameras cranked away, capturing images of custard pies, bathing beauties, comedy and tragedy, villains leering, heroines with long curls and heroes to save the day; and they built a new world to replace the lemon groves.
Thus, the fame of Hollywood came from its identity with the movies and movie stars; and the word "Hollywood," a word that, when spoken in any country on Earth, evokes worlds, even galaxies of memories, came to be colloquially used to refer to the motion picture industry.
In 1913, Cecil B. DeMille, in association with Jesse Lasky, leased a barn with studio facilities on the southeast corner of Selma and Vine Streets from the Burns and Revier Studio and Laboratory, which had been established there. DeMille then began production of The Squaw Man (1914). It became known as the Lasky-DeMille Barn and is currently the location of the Hollywood Heritage Museum.
The Charlie Chaplin Studios, on the northeast corner of La Brea and De Longpre Avenues just south of Sunset Boulevard, was built in 1917. It has had many owners after 1953, including Kling Studios, who produced the Superman TV series with George Reeves; Red Skelton, who used the sound stages for his CBS TV variety show; and CBS, who filmed the TV series Perry Mason with Raymond Burr there. It has also been owned by Herb Alpert's A&M Records and Tijuana Brass Enterprises. It is currently The Jim Henson Company, home of the Muppets. In 1969, The Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Board named the studio a historical cultural monument.
The famous Hollywood sign originally read "Hollywoodland." It was erected in 1923 to advertise a new housing development in the hills above Hollywood. For several years the sign was left to deteriorate. In 1949, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce stepped in and offered to remove the last four letters and repair the rest.
The sign, located near the top of Mount Lee, is now a registered trademark and cannot be used without the permission of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which also manages the venerable Walk of Fame.
The Hollywood sign as it appears today
The first Academy Awards presentation ceremony took place on May 16, 1929 during a banquet held in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard. Tickets were USD $10.00 and there were 250 people in attendance.
Hollywood and the movie industry of the 1930s are described in P. G. Wodehouse's novel Laughing Gas (1936) and in Budd Schulberg's What Makes Sammy Run? (1941), and is parodied in Terry Pratchett's novel Moving Pictures (1990), which is a takeoff of Singin' In The Rain.
From about 1930, five major "Hollywood" movie studios from all over the Los Angeles area, Paramount, RKO, 20th Century Fox, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Bros., owned large, grand theaters throughout the country for the exhibition of their movies. The period between the years 1927 (the effective end of the silent era) to 1948 is considered the age of the "Hollywood studio system", or, in a more common term, the Golden Age of Hollywood. In a landmark 1948 court decision, the Supreme Court ruled that movie studios could not own theaters and play only the movies of their studio and movie stars, thus an era of Hollywood history had unofficially ended. By the mid-1950s, when television proved a profitable enterprise that was here to stay, movie studios started also being used for the production of programming in that medium, which is still the norm today.
On January 22, 1947, the first commercial TV station west of the Mississippi River, KTLA, began operating in Hollywood. In December of that year, the first Hollywood movie production was made for TV, The Public Prosecutor. And in the 1950s, music recording studios and offices began moving into Hollywood. Other businesses, however, continued to migrate to different parts of Los Angeles, primarily to Burbank, California. A lot of the movie industry remained in the area, although the district's outward appearance changed.
The famous Capitol Records building on Vine Street just north of Hollywood Boulevard was built in 1956. It is a recording studio not open to the public, but its unique circular design looks like a stack of old 45rpm vinyl records.
The Hollywood walk of fame
The Hollywood Walk of Fame was created in 1958 and the first star was placed in 1960 as a tribute to artists working in the entertainment industry. Honorees receive a star based on career and lifetime achievements in motion pictures, live theatre, radio, television, and/or music, as well as their charitable and civic contributions.
In 1985, the Hollywood Boulevard commercial and entertainment district was officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places protecting important buildings and seeing to it that the significance of Hollywood's past would always be a part of its future.
In June 1999, the long-awaited Hollywood extension of the Metro Red Line subway opened, running from Downtown Los Angeles to the Valley, with stops on Hollywood Boulevard at Western Avenue, at Vine Street and at Highland Avenue.
The Kodak Theatre, which opened in 2001 on Hollywood Boulevard at Highland Avenue, where the historic Hollywood Hotel once stood, has become the new home of the Oscars.
In 2002, a number of Hollywood citizens began a campaign for the district to secede from Los Angeles and become its own incorporated city. Secession supporters argued that the needs of their community were being ignored by the leaders of Los Angeles. In June, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors placed secession referendums for both Hollywood and the Valley on the ballots for a "citywide election." To pass, they required the approval of a majority of voters from all over Los Angeles. In the November election, the referendums failed to receive the required percentage of votes by a wide margin.
Modern day Hollywood is a diverse, vital, and active community striving to preserve the elegant buildings from its past.
A serious problem for Hollywood since the 1960s has been its attractiveness for desperate runaways. Every year, hundreds of runaway adolescents flee broken homes and flock to Hollywood hoping to become movie stars, as portrayed by the lyrics of the Burt Bacharach song Do You Know the Way to San Jose "All the stars /That never were /Are parking cars / And pumping gas." They soon discover they have extremely slim chances of competing against professionally trained actors and end up sinking into homelessness, which is a major problem in general in Hollywood.
Some go home; some stay in Hollywood and join the prostitutes and panhandlers lining its boulevards; others go to Skid Row in Downtown; and some end up in the seamy underside of the entertainment business–the large pornography industry in the San Fernando Valley. This grim side of Hollywood was portayed in Jackson Brown's song, Boulevard, whose lyrics include reference to a notorious hustler hangout of the 1970s, "Down at the Golden Cup/They set the young ones up/Under the neon lights/Selling day for night."
Landmarks and interesting spots