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.
Hollywood travel, Los Angeles Tourist Attractions
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.
If a single place-name encapsulates the Los Angeles dream of glamor, money and overnight success, it's Hollywood. Millions of tourists arrive on pilgrimages; millions more flock here in pursuit of riches and glory. Hollywood is a weird combination of insatiable optimism and total despair. It really does blur the edges of fact and fiction, simply because so much seems possible and yet so little, for most people, actually is. Those who do strike it rich here get out as soon as they can, just as they always have; the big film companies, too, long ago relocated well away, leaving Hollywood in isolation, with prostitution, drug dealing and seedy bookstores as the reality behind the fantasy.
The myths, magic, fable and fantasy splattered throughout the few short blocks of Central Hollywood would put a medieval fairytale to shame. A rich sense of nostalgia pervades the area, giving it an appeal no measure of tourists or souvenir postcard stands can diminish. Although you're much more likely to find a porno theater than spot a real star, the decline which blighted Hollywood from the early 1960s is fast receding. Nevertheless the place still gets hairy after dark, with adolescents cruising Hollywood Boulevard in customized cars and occasional petty criminals on the prowl for the odd pocketbook.
The natural place to begin exploring Hollywood Boulevard is the junction of Hollywood and Vine the classic location for budding stars to be "spotted" by big-shot directors and whisked off to fame and fortune. At 6608 Hollywood Blvd, the purple and pink Frederick's of Hollywood has been (under-) clothing Hollywood's sex goddesses since 1947, as well as mortal bodies all over the world via mail order. Inside, the lingerie museum (free) displays some of the company's best corsets, bras and panties, donated by happy big-name wearers ranging from Lana Turner to Cher.
A little further on, the Egyptian Theater at no. 6708 was financed by impresario Sid Grauman, in a modest attempt to re-create the Temple of Thebes. The very first Hollywood premiere (Robin Hood) took place here in 1922. Now owned by the city, Grauman's Thebes is currently closed for renovations as part of a three-year plan to restore the fake mummies and hieroglyphics of this temple of cinema to their former glory and remake the theater into a center for film study. No Hollywood visitor will want to miss the mundane yet magical foot and hand prints in the concrete concourse of the 1927 Chinese Theatre at 6925 Hollywood Blvd. Actress Norma Talmadge (supposedly by accident) trod in wet cement while visiting the construction site, and the practice has continued ever since, starting with Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Sr, at the opening of King of Kings, and recently involving stars such as Al Pacino. Through the halcyon decades, this was the spot for movie first-nights. As for the building, it's an odd western version of a classical Chinese temple, replete with dodgy Chinese motifs and upturned dragon tail flanks.
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 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 on January 9, 2008.
The Roosevelt Hotel opposite was movieland's first luxury hotel, its Cinegrill restaurant hosting the likes of W C Fields and F Scott Fitzgerald, not to mention hangers-on like Ronald Reagan. In 1929 the first Oscars were presented here, beginning the long tradition of Hollywood rewarding itself in the absence of honors from elsewhere.
Despite the beliefs of some of their loopiest fans, even the biggest Hollywood stars have been mortal; the many LA cemeteries that hold their tombs get at least as many visitors as the city's museums. In the southeast corner of the Hollywood Memorial Cemetery, near Santa Monica Boulevard and Gower Street, a mausoleum contains the resting place of Rudolph Valentino, the celebrated screen lover who died aged just 31 in 1926. To this day on each anniversary of his passing (August 23), at least one "Lady in Black" as his posthumous devotees are known will likely be found mourning. The achingly ostentatious memorial to Douglas Fairbanks Sr, who with his wife Mary Pickford did much to introduce social snobbery among movie-making people, is just outside. Also on view are the graves of Hollywood's more recently deceased inhabitants: an increasingly large population of Russian and Armenian immigrants.
The gentle greenery and rugged mountain slopes that make up vast Griffith Park northeast of Hollywood (daily 5am 10.30pm, mountain roads close at dusk; free) are a welcome escape from the mind-numbing hubbub of the city. The landmark Observatory (Tues Fri 10pm, Sat Sun 12.30 10pm; free) here has been seen in innumerable Hollywood films, most famously Rebel Without a Cause, and the surrounding acres add up to the largest municipal park in the country, one of the few places where LA's multitude of racial and social groups at least go through the motions of mixing together.
Above the landscaped flat sections, the hillsides are rough and wild, marked only by foot and bridle paths, leading into desolate but appealingly unspoiled terrain that gives great views over the LA basin and out to the ocean, provided the city smog isn't too thick. One way to explore is on a rented bike from Woody's Bicycle World, 3157 Los Feliz Blvd (213/661-6665), a short distance away. The park is safe enough by day, but its reputation for after-dark violence is well founded.
The views from the Hollywood Hills take in a bizarre assortment of opulent properties. Around these canyons and slopes, which run from Hollywood itself into Benedict Canyon above Beverly Hills, mansions are so commonplace that only the half-dozen fully blown castles (at least, Hollywood-style castles) really stand out. On Mulholland Drive are Rudolph Valentino's extravagant Falcon Lair and Errol Flynn's Mulholland House; down Benedict Canyon is the former home of actress Sharon Tate, one of the victims of the Manson Family. Guided tours can point out which is which, but for the most part you can't get close to the most elaborate dwellings anyway, and none is open to the public.
From more or less anywhere in Hollywood, you can see the Hollywood Sign, erected as a property advertisement in 1923 (when it spelt "Hollywoodland"; the "land" was removed in 1949). The sign is also famous as a suicide spot, though few have followed the 1932 example of would-be movie star Peg Entwhistle. Hers was no mean feat, the sign being as hard to reach then as it is now: from the end of Beachwood Drive (a route that affords a fine view of the sign) she picked a path slowly upwards through the thick bush, to leap to her death from the 50ft "H". For the first time in its sixty-five-year existence, the sign is being insured against earthquake damage. Infra-red cameras and radar-activated zoom lenses have been installed to catch graffiti writers. Innocent tourists who can't resist a close look are also liable for the $103 fine.
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
The intersection of Hollywood and Highland 1907In 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, 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.As they stood on the hill (which is now the center of Hollywood) admiring the view 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.
By 1900, the community then called Cahuenga 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.
Nestor Studios, Hollywood's first movie studio, 1913In 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, 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 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 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 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 Theater.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 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 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 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.
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 Real World: Hollywood which will likely serve to even further revitalize the area.