Sunday, July 6, 2008


Hollywood is a district in the city of Los Angeles, California, situated west-northwest of Downtown Los Angeles.[1] Due to its fame and cultural identity as the historical center of movie studios and movie stars, the word "Hollywood" is often used as a metonym of cinema of the United States. Today, much of the movie industry has dispersed into surrounding areas such as Burbank and the Los Angeles Westside[2] but significant auxiliary industries, such as editing, effects, props, post-production and lighting companies, remain in Hollywood.

Many historic Hollywood theaters are used as venues and concert stages to premiere major theatrical releases and host the Academy Awards. It is a popular destination for nightlife and tourism and home to theHollywood Walk of Fame.

Although it is not the typical practice of the city of Los Angeles to establish specific boundaries for districts or neighborhoods, Hollywood is a recent exception. On February 16, 2005, Assembly Members Goldbergand Koretz introduced a bill to require California to keep specific records on Hollywood as though it were independent. For this to be done, the boundaries were defined. This bill was unanimously supported by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the LA City Council. Assembly Bill 588 was approved by the Governor on August 28, 2006 and now the district of Hollywood has official borders. The border is shown at the right and can be loosely described as the area east of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, south ofMulholland Drive, Laurel Canyon, Cahuenga Blvd. and Barham Blvd. and the cities of Burbank andGlendale, north of Melrose Avenue and west of the Golden State Freeway and Hyperion Avenue. Note that this includes all of Griffith Park and Los Feliz—two areas that were hitherto generally considered separate from Hollywood by most Angelenos. The population of the district, including Los Feliz, as of the 2000census was 167,664 and the median household income was $33,409 in 1999.

As a portion of the city of Los Angeles, Hollywood does not have its own municipal government, but does have an official, appointed by the  Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, who serves as "Honorary Mayor of Hollywood" for ceremonial purposes only. Johnny Grant held this position for decades, until his death onJanuary 9, 2008.


Hollywood 1885
Hollywood 1885
Glen-Holly Hotel, first hotel in Hollywood, at the corner of what is now Yucca Street. It was built by Joakim Berg (Hollywood artist), a famous artist back in the 1890s
Glen-Holly Hotel, first hotel in Hollywood, at the corner of what is now Yucca Street. It was built byJoakim Berg (Hollywood artist), a famous artist back in the 1890s
Hollywood Hotel 1905
Hollywood Hotel 1905
The intersection of Hollywood and Highland 1907
The intersection of Hollywood and Highland 1907

In 1853, one adobe hut stood on the site that became Hollywood. By 1870, an agricultural community flourished in the area with thriving crops. A locally popular etymology is that the name "Hollywood" traces to the ample stands of native Toyon or "California Holly", that cover the hillsides with clusters of bright red berries each winter. But this and accounts of the name coming from imported holly then growing in the area, are not confirmed. The name Hollywood was coined by H. J. Whitley,[6] the Father of Hollywood. He and his wife, Gigi, came up with the name while on their honeymoon, according to Margaret Virginia Whitley's memoir.[6]As they stood on the hill (which is now the center of Hollywood)was admiring the view, when they spied a rickety old wagon pulled by one horse with a Chinese man driving pell-mell down a narrow path. As he approached them he stopped his wagon. HJ Whitley asked what he was doing. In broken English with a Chinese accent he said, "I up sunrise. Old trees fall down. Pick up wood. All time haully wood." With an epiphany HJ declared he would name his new town Hollywood. Ivar Weid a Danish immigrant, railroad owner and major land holder in Hollywood told Daeida Wilcox of HJ's plans. That is why she recorded the name on her property. Another story refers the name to Harvey Wilcox, who bought land in the area for development of homes. His wife, Daeida, met a woman on a train who mentioned that she had named her Ohio summer home Hollywood. Daeide, who liked the name, gave it to their new development. The name first appeared on the Wilcox's map of the subdivision, filed with the county recorder on February 1, 1887.[7]

By 1900, the community then called Cahuenga had a post office, newspaper, hotel and two markets, along with a population of 500. Los Angeles, with a population of 100,000 people at the time, lay 7 miles east through the citrus groves. A single-track streetcar line ran down the middle of Prospect Avenue from it, 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, byH. J. Whitley, who was 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 Los Angeles drastically.

By 1910, because of an ongoing struggle to secure an adequate water supply, the townsmen voted for Hollywood to be annexed into 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 Los Angeles´ sewer system. With annexation, the name of Prospect Avenue was changed to Hollywood Boulevard and all the street numbers in the new district changed. For example, 100 Prospect Avenue, at Vermont Avenue, became 6400 Hollywood Boulevard; and 100 Cahuenga Boulevard, at Hollywood Boulevard, changed to 1700 Cahuenga Boulevard.

Motion picture industry

Main article: Cinema of the United States
Nestor Studio, Hollywood's first movie studio, 1913
Nestor Studio, Hollywood's first movie studio, 1913

Filmmaking in the greater Los Angeles area preceded the establishment of filmmaking in Hollywood. The Biograph Company filmed the short film A Daring Hold-Up in Southern California in Los Angeles in 1906.[8] The first studio in the Los Angeles area was established by the Selig Polyscope Company inEdendale, with construction beginning in August 1909.[9]

In early 1910, director D. W. Griffith was sent by the Biograph Company to the west coast with his troupe, consisting of actors Blanche Sweet, Lillian Gish, Mary Pickford, Lionel Barrymore and others. They started filming on a vacant lot in downtown Los Angeles. The company decided to explore new territories and traveled five miles north to the little village Hollywood, which was friendly and enjoyed the movie company filming there. Griffith then filmed the first movie ever shot in Hollywood called In Old California, a melodrama set in Mexican-owned California in the 1800s. The movie company stayed there for months and made several films before returning to New York.

The first studio in Hollywood was established by the New Jersey-based Centaur Co., which wanted to make westerns in California. They rented an unused roadhouse at 6121 Sunset Boulevard at the corner of Gower, and converted it into a movie studio in October 1911, calling it Nestor Studio after the name of the western branch of their company. [10] The first feature film made specifically in a Hollywood studio, in 1914, wasThe Squaw Man, directed by Cecil B. DeMille and Oscar Apfel.[11]

By 1915, the majority of American films were being produced in the Los Angeles area.

Hollywood movie studios, 1922
Hollywood movie studios, 1922

Modern Hollywood

On January 22, 1947, the first commercial television station west of the Mississippi River, KTLA, began operating in Hollywood. In December of that year, The Public Prosecutor became the first network television series to be filmed in Hollywood. And in the 1950s, music recording studios and offices began moving into Hollywood. Other businesses, however, continued to migrate to different parts of the Los Angeles area, primarily to Burbank. Much of the movie industry remained in Hollywood, although the district's outward appearance changed.

In 1952, CBS built CBS Television City on the corner of Fairfax Avenue and Beverly Boulevard, on the former site of Gilmore Stadium. CBS's expansion into the Fairfax District pushed the unofficial boundary of Hollywood further south than it had been. CBS's slogan for the shows taped there was "From Television City in Hollywood..."

During the early 1950s the famous Hollywood Freeway was constructed from The Stack interchange in downtown Los Angeles, past theHollywood Bowl, up through Cahuenga Pass and into the San Fernando Valley. In the early days, streetcars ran up through the pass, on rails running along the central reservation

The famous Capitol Records building on Vine St. just north of Hollywood Boulevard was built in 1956. The building houses offices and recording studios which are not open to the public, but its circular design looks like a stack of 7-inch vinyl records.

The now derelict lot at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Serrano Avenue was once the site of the illustrious Hollywood Professional School, whose alumni reads like a Hollywood Who's Who of household "names". Many of these former child stars attended a "farewell" party at the commemorative sealing of a time capsule buried on the lot.

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 Placesprotecting important buildings and ensuring 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 Los Angeles County Metro Rail Red Line subway opened, running from Downtown Los Angeles to the Valley, with stops along Hollywood Boulevard at Western Avenue, Vine Street and Highland Avenue.

The Kodak Theater.
The Kodak Theater.

The Kodak Theatre, which opened in 2001 on Hollywood Boulevard at Highland Avenue, where the historicHollywood Hotel once stood, has become the new home of the Oscars.

While motion picture production still occurs within the Hollywood district, most major studios are actually located elsewhere in the Los Angeles region. Paramount Studios is the only major studio still physically located within Hollywood. Other studios in the district include the aforementioned Jim Henson (formerly Chaplin) Studios, Sunset Gower Studios, and Raleigh Studios.

While Hollywood and the adjacent neighborhood of Los Feliz served as the initial homes for all of the early television stations in the Los Angeles market, most have now relocated to other locations within the metropolitan area. KNBC began this exodus in 1962, when it moved from the former NBC Radio City Studios located at the northeast corner of Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street to NBC Studios in Burbank. KTTV pulled up stakes in 1996 from its former home at Metromedia Square in the 5700 block of Sunset Boulevard to relocate to Bundy Drive in West Los Angeles. KABC-TVmoved from its original location at ABC Television Center (now branded The Prospect Studios) just east of Hollywood to Glendale in 2000, though the Los Angeles bureau of ABC News still resides at Prospect. After being purchased by 20th Century Fox in 2001, KCOP left its former home in the 900 block of North La Brea Avenue to join KTTV on the Fox lot. The CBS Corporation-owned duopoly of KCBS-TV andKCAL-TV moved from its longtime home at CBS Columbia Square in the 6100 block of Sunset Boulevard to a new facility at CBS Studio Center in Studio City. KTLA, located in the 5800 block of Sunset Boulevard, and KCET, in the 4400 block of Sunset Boulevard, are the last broadcasters (television or radio) with Hollywood addresses.

Additionally, Hollywood once served as the home of nearly every radio station in Los Angeles, all of which have now moved into other communities. KNX was the last station to broadcast from Hollywood, when it left CBS Columbia Square for a studio in the Miracle Mile in 2005.

In 2002, a number of Hollywood citizens began a campaign for the district to secede from Los Angeles and become, as it had been a century earlier, its own incorporated municipality. Secession supporters argued that the needs of their community were being ignored by the leaders of Los Angeles. In June of that year, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors placed secession referendums for both, Hollywood and theValley, on the ballots for a "citywide election." To pass, they required the approval of a majority of voters in the proposed new municipality as well as a majority of voters in all of Los Angeles. In the November election, both referendums failed by wide margins in the citywide vote.


After many years of serious decline, Hollywood is now undergoing rapid gentrification and revitalization with the goal of urban density in mind. Many new developments have been completed, and many more are planned, and several are centered on Hollywood Boulevard itself. In particular, the Hollywood & Highland complex, which is also the site of the Kodak Theater, has been a major catalyst for the redevelopment of the area. In addition, numerous trendy bars, clubs, and retail businesses have opened on or surrounding the boulevard, allowing it to become one of the main nighttime spots in all of Los Angeles. Many older buildings have also been converted to lofts and condominiums, and a W Hotel is currently under construction at the famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine, including The CBS Columbia Square which is being used as the new site of MTV's The Real World: Hollywood which will likely serve to even further revitalize the area.