A Brief History on Hollywood
Hollywood is a district in Los Angeles, California, situated west-northwest of Downtown Los Angeles. 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 for the cinema of the United States. Today much of the movie industry has dispersed into surrounding areas such as Burbank and the Los Angeles Westside 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 the Hollywood 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 Goldberg and 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 of Mulholland Drive, Laurel Canyon, Cahuenga Blvd. and Barham Blvd. and the cities of Burbank and Glendale, 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 2000 census 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 appointed official that serves as "Honorary Mayor of Hollywood" for ceremonial purposes only. Currently, the "mayor" is Johnny Grant. Since this is a non-elected, honorary position, Grant has held this position for decades.
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, is not confirmed. The name Hollywood was coined by H. J. Whitley, the Father of Hollywood. He and his wife Gigi came up with the name while on their honeymoon, from Margaret Virginia Whitley's memoir. 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 to the county recorder on February 1, 1887. Hollywood is also the name of a much older district lying approximately 8km south of the city of Birmingham, England.
By 1900, the community called Cahuenga also had a post office, newspaper, hotel and two markets, along with a population of 500. LA, 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 by H. J. Whitley, 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.
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 5 miles north to the little village Hollywood that was friendly and enjoyed the movie company filming there. Griffith then filmed the first movie ever shot in Hollywood called In Old California, a Biograph melodrama about Latino-Mexican occupied California in the 1800s. The movie company stayed there for months and made several films before returning to New York. After hearing about this wonderful place, in 1913 many movie-makers headed west. The first feature film made in Hollywood, in 1914, was called "The Squaw Man", directed by Cecil B. DeMille. All the films made in Los Angeles from 1908 to 1913 were short subjects. With this film, the Hollywood movie industry was "born". Through the First World War it became the movie capital of the world. The oldest company still existing in Hollywood today was founded by William Horsley of Gower Gulch-based Nestor and Centaur films, who went on to create the Hollywood Film Laboratory, which is now called the Hollywood Digital Laboratory.
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 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 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 50's the famous Hollywood Freeway was constructed from The Stack interchange in downtown Los Angeles, past the Hollywood 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 of the highway.
The famous Virgin Records building on Ventura Blvd. 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 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 Places protecting 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 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.
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 to 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-TV moved 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 and KCAL-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 television stations with Hollywood addresses.
Additionally it has once served as the home of nearly every radio station in Los Angeles, all of which have later 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 the Valley 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.
One feature for Hollywood since the 1960s has been its attractiveness for desperate runaways. Every year, hundreds of runaway adolescents leave their homes across North America and the world and flock to Hollywood hoping to become movie stars, as portrayed by the lyrics of the 1960s Burt Bacharach song "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" whose lyrics include the words: "All the stars / That never were / Are parking cars / And pumping gas." Such individuals soon discover that they have extremely slim chances of competing against professionally trained actors. Many of them end up sinking into homelessness, which is a problem in Hollywood for adults as well as youth.
Some return home, while others linger in Hollywood and join the prostitutes and panhandlers lining its boulevards; others go to Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles; and yet others end up in the large pornography industry in the San Fernando Valley. This side of Hollywood was portrayed in Jackson Browne's 1980 song, "Boulevard", whose lyrics include reference to a notorious hustler hangout of the 1970s, with the words: "Down at the Golden Cup / They set the young ones up / Under the neon lights / Selling day for night." This phenomenon is also portrayed in the books of Charles Bukowski.
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 planned at the famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine, which will serve to even further revitalize the area.