Monday, October 19, 2009

Today's Hollywood Sign.

Hollywood Boulevard, taken from the Kodak Theatre.

Hollywood is a district in Los Angeles, California, United States, 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 metonymy of American cinema. The nickname Tinseltown refers to the glittering, superficial nature of Hollywood and the movie industry.[2] Today, much of the movie industry has dispersed into surrounding areas such as the Westside neighborhood,[3] but significant auxiliary industries, such as editing, effects, props, post-production and lighting companies, remain in Hollywood, as does the backlot of Paramount Pictures.

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 is 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, California 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 Los Angeles 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 can be loosely described as the area east of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, south of Mulholland Drive, Laurel Canyon, Cahuenga Boulevard, and Barham Boulevard, and the cities of Burbank and Glendale, north of Melrose Avenue and west of the Golden State Freeway and Hyperion Avenue. 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.[4]

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 an honorary "Mayor of Hollywood" for ceremonial purposes only. Johnny Grant held this position for decades, until his death on January 9, 2008.[5][6]


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,[7] the Father of Hollywood. He and his wife, Gigi, came up with the name while on their honeymoon in 1886, according to Margaret Virginia Whitley's memoir. The name "Hollywood" was used by H. H. Wilcox when he laid out his 160 acre farm in 1887. He had learned of the name from his neighbor Ivar Weid and wanted to be the first to record it on a deed.

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 10 miles (16 km) east through the citrus groves. A sisdf 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.

Glen-Holly Hotel, first hotel in Hollywood, at the corner of what is now Yucca Street. It was built by Joakim Berg, a famous artist backs in the 1890s.

Hollywood Hotel 1905.

The intersection of Hollywood and Highland 1907.

The first section of the famous Hollywood Hotel, the first major hotel in Hollywood, was opened in 1902, by H. J. Whitley, the President of the Los Pacific Boulevard and Development Company of which he was a major shareholder. He 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. His company opened and developed the first residential area the Ocean View Tract.

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

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 in Edendale, 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 (8 km) north to the little village of Hollywood, which was friendly and enjoyed the movie company filming there. Griffith then filmed the first film ever shot in Hollywood called In Old California, a one-reel melodrama set in Mexican colonial-era California in the 1800s. The movie company stayed there for months and made many, many 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, was The Squaw Man, directed by Cecil B. DeMille and Oscar Apfel,[11] and was filmed at the Lasky-DeMille Barn amongst other area locations.

By 1915, the majority of American films were being produced in the Los Angeles area.[12]

Hollywood movie studios, 1922.

Four major film companies — Paramount, Warner Bros., RKO and Columbia — had studios in Hollywood, as did several minor companies and rental studios.


By 1920, Hollywood had become world famous as the center of the United States film industry.

From the 1920s to the 1940s, a large percentage of transportation to and from Hollywood was by means of the red cars of the Pacific Electric Railway.

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 Four Level Interchange 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 median.

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 (180 mm) 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 as a tribute to artists working in the entertainment industry and the first embedded star on the walk—honoring actress Joanne Woodward -- was set in place on February 9, 1960. 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.

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 Pictures 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 San Fernando 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.

Hollywood is served by several neighborhood councils, including the Hollywood United Neighborhood Council (HUNC) [2] and the Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council. [3] These two groups are part of the network of neighborhood councils certified by the City of Los Angeles Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, or DONE. [4] Neighborhood Councils cast advisory votes on such issues as zoning, planning, and other community issues. The council members are voted in by stakeholders, generally defined as anyone living, working, owning property, or belonging to an organization within the boundaries of the council. [5]


After many years of serious decline, when many Hollywood landmarks were threatened with demolition,[13] Hollywood is now undergoing rapid gentrification and revitalization with the goal of urban density in mind. Many developments have been completed, typically centered on Hollywood Boulevard. The Hollywood and Highland complex (site of the Kodak Theater), has been a major catalyst for the redevelopment of the area. In addition, numerous fashionable bars, clubs, and retail businesses have opened on or surrounding the boulevard, returning Hollywood to a center of nightlife in Los Angeles. Many older buildings have also been converted to lofts and condominiums, Cosmo Lofts was the first live/work loft development in the Hollywood area. A W Hotel is currently under construction at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine.

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