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Today's Hollywood Sign.

Hollywood is a district in Los Angeles, 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, and is often interchangably used to refer to the greater Los Angeles area in general. The nickname Tinseltown refers to 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, 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 of California 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 123,436 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 in Nopalera, named for the Mexican Nopal cactus indiginous to the area. By 1870, an agricultural community flourished in the area with thriving crops of many common and exotic varieties. The area was known to these residents as the Cahuenga Valley, after the pass in the Santa Monica Mountains immediately to the north. Soon thereafter, land speculation would lead to subdivision of the large plots and an influx of homeowners.

In spite of the area's short history, it has been filled with events driven by optimistic progress. As such, the recording of history has not been something of value to the community until recent years. Indeed, even the origin of name of Hollywood itself has been nearly lost to most locals, leaving them to speculate on its origins. One such 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. Another factor leading to confusion has been that two factions have claimed credit for naming Hollywood. Based upon published papers and other documents, it now seems that the name Hollywood was coined by H. J. Whitley,[7] the Father of Hollywood[8]. He came up with the name while honeymooning with his wife, Gigi, in 1886, according to Margaret Virginia Whitley's memoir. Whitley arranged to buy the 500 acre E.C. Hurd ranch and disclosed to him his plans for the land. They agreed on a price and Hurd agreed to sell at a later date. Before Whitley got off the ground with Hollywood, plans for the new town had spread to General Harrison Gray Otis, Mr Hurd's wife, Whitley's wife Gigi, Mrs. Daeida Wilcox, and numerous others through the mill of gossip and land speculation.

Daeida Wilcox learned the plans for the fledgling Hollywood from Gigi Whitley as they coincidentally travelled on the same train from Los Angeles to the upper Midwest. Daeida recommended the same name to her husband, H. H. Wilcox. The couple laid out and subdivided his 160 acre farm which bordered the east side of Whitley's land. On February 1, 1887, Harvey filed a deed and map of property he sold with the Los Angeles County Recorder's office. It is also speculated that Harvey Wilcox would have learned of the name Hollywood from his neighbor in Holly Canyon (now Lake Hollywood), Ivar Weid, a prominent investor and friend of Whitley's. Harvey wanted to be the first to record it on a deed, and did so on his official map. The early real-estate boom busted that same year, yet Hollywood began to grow, slowly.

By 1900, the region 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 vineyards, barley fields, and 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.

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 back in the 1890s.
Hollywood Hotel 1905.
The intersection of Hollywood and Highland 1907.

Construction of the famous Hollywood Hotel, the first major hotel in Hollywood, was opened in 1902, by H. J. Whitley, by then President of the Los Pacific Boulevard and Development Company of which he was a major shareholder. Having finally acquired the Hurd ranch and subdivided it, Whitley had built the hotel to attract land buyers, and was eager to sell these residential lots among the lemon ranches 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 was developing and selling one of the early residential areas, the Ocean View Tract.

Whitley did much to promote the area, including bringing electricity and building a bank, as well as a road into the Cahuenga Pass-- gateway to the San Fernando Valley. Whitley's land was centered on Highland Avenue. Harvey Wilcox had died in 1891, and Daeida remarried a man named P.J. Beveridge in 1893. Their land was centered on Cahuenga Boulevard, which also accesses the Cahuenga Pass by the historid Old Pass Road, part of California's El Camino Real. Each tried attract the town center of Hollywood around their respective streets' intersections with Prospect Ave. The result of this rivalry remains evident to this day, as Hollywood appears to have two centers with a lesser-developed section of Hollywood Blvd between them. Today's Metro Red Line subway has a station in each of these centers: Hollywood/Vine for the Wilcox', and Hollywood/Highland for the Whitley's; separated by a walkable 3/4 of a mile. A result of this rivalry has been that, along with dual-town centers, each faction seemed to write its own history of the founding of Hollywood in their bid for legitimacy. It has become necessary to refer to multiple sources from both sides to derrive the true (or truer) story of Hollywood's proto-Tinsel Town history.

Hollywood was finally incorporated as a municipality in 1903. As Daeida Wilcox-Beveridge was an ardent prohibitionist, among the town ordinances was one prohibiting the sale of liquor except by pharmacists. Another that demonstrates the vast difference between today's and early Hollywood was a law 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.[9] The first studio in the Los Angeles area was established by the Selig Polyscope Company in Edendale, with construction beginning in August 1909.[10]

The first motion picture to be filmed in Hollywood was taken on October 26, 1911. Although the movie never really had a name, it was a true piece of Hollywood’s history. The Whitley home was used as its set. The movie was filmed in the middle of their groves on the corner of Whitley Ave and Hollywood Boulevard. The motion picture was directed by David and William Horsley and Al Christe.

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.[11] The first feature film made specifically in a Hollywood studio, in 1914, was The Squaw Man, directed by Cecil B. DeMille and Oscar Apfel,[12] and was filmed at the Lasky-DeMille Barn amongst other area locations.

By 1911, Los Angeles was second only to New York in motion picture production,[13] and by 1915, the majority of American films were being produced in the Los Angeles area.[14]

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. Hollywood had begun its dramatic transformation from sleepy suburb to movie production capital. The residential and agrarian Hollywood Boulevard of 1910 was virtually unrecognizable by 1920 as the new commercial and retail sector replaced it. The sleepy town was no more, and to the chagrin of many original residents, the boom town could not be stopped.


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, 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,[15] 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. The W Hollywood Hotel is now open at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine.

Hollywood neighborhoods and communities

The Hotel Roosevelt has long sat on Hollywood Boulevard near Hollywood High School and Grauman's Chinese Theater.


Local government

Much of the neighborhood of Hollywood that includes most of Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard falls within the 13th District of the City of Los Angeles. Recent city council members include:

Michael Woo: 1985–1993

Jackie Goldberg: 1994–2000

Eric Garcetti: 2000–present

The city agency that spearheads revitalization within the Hollywood Redevelopment Project Area is the Community Redevelopment of Los Angeles located in the House of Blues Building at 6244 Sunset Blvd., #2206, Hollywood, CA 90028.[citation needed]

County representation

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services operates the Hollywood-Wilshire Health Center in Hollywood.[16]

Federal representation

The United States Postal Service operates the Hollywood Post Office,[17] the Hollywood Pavilion Post Office,[18] and the Sunset Post Office.[19]


As of the 2000 census, there were 210,777 people residing in the Community Plan Area of Hollywood. The population density was 8,443 people per square mile (3,261/km²). The racial makeup of the community was 59.84% White (47.27% White Non-Hispanic), 9.44% Asian, 0.13% Pacific Islander, 4.28% African American, 0.62% Native American, 19.10% from other races, and 6.59% from two or more races. 34.51% of the population were Hispanic of any race. 49.63% of the population was foreign born; of this, 46.24% came from Latin America, 32.73% from Asia, 17.80% from Europe and 3.23% from other parts of the world.[20]


Students who live in Hollywood are zoned to schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The area is within Board District 4.[21] As of 2008 Marlene Canter represents the district.[22] Canter announced that she will not seek re-election after her term expires in June 2009.[23]

Elementary schools:

Middle schools:

Hollywood High School and Helen Bernstein High School are public high schools in the Hollywood area.

Christ the King Elementary School is a private school in the area.

For many years, the motion picture Industry had its own private Industry-run institution for child actors, the Hollywood Professional School.

Public libraries

The Will and Ariel Durant Branch and the Frances Howard Goldwyn – Hollywood Regional Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library are in Hollywood.


The Hollywood Bowl, on opening night in 2005.
The Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium.

Special events

  • The Academy Awards are held in late February/early March (since 2004) of each year, honoring the preceding year in film. Prior to 2004, they were held in late March/early April. Since 2002, the Oscars have been held at their new home at the Kodak Theater at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue.
  • CINECON Classic Film Festival & Exposition (Annual timing is five days—connected to Labor Day weekend) Classic film memorabilia, expert presentations, author signings, and movie screenings with celebrity guests.
  • The annual Hollywood Christmas Parade: The 2006 parade on Nov 26th, was the 75th edition of the Christmas Parade. The parade goes down Hollywood Boulevard and is broadcast in the LA area on KTLA, and around the United States on Tribune-owned stations and the WGN superstation. [6]

See also

Hollywood history books

  • Gaelyn Whitley Keith (2006) The Father of Hollywood: The True Story (Hardcover), Book Surge, An Company. (ISBN 1-4196-4194-8)
  • Nudelman, Robert & Wanamaker, Marc (2005) Historic Hollywood: An Illustrated History (Hardcover), Texas: Historical Pub Network. (ISBN 978-1893619463)
  • R. Jezek, George & Wanamaker, Marc (2003) Hollywood: Now and Then (Hardcover), California: George Ross Jezek Photography & Publishing. (ISBN 978-0970103611)
  • Gregory Paul Williams (2005) The Story of Hollywood: An Illustrated History (Hardcover), BL Press LLC. (ISBN 0-9776299-0-2)



  1. ^ City of Los Angeles Map - Larger View
  2. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "LA Almanac". Retrieved 2007-05-24. 
  5. ^ Scott (2005).
  6. ^ "Johnny Grant, honorary Hollywood mayor, dies". Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  7. ^ Keith (2006).
  8. ^ ^ "Death Calls H.J. Whitley. Real Estate Man Known as "Father of Hollywood". Pioneer in Many Southland Developments.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-07-17. "H. J. Whitley, pioneer California real estate man and known as the "Father of Hollywood." died yesterday at the age of 83 years and after an illness of more than a year. Mr. Whitley died during his sleep while staying as a guest of his son Ross Whitley at the Whitley Park"
  9. ^ Niver (1971), p. 262.
  10. ^ Robertson (2001), p. 21.
  11. ^ Robertson (2001), p. 21. The facility later became the Hollywood Film Laboratory, which is now called the Hollywood Digital Laboratory.
  12. ^ Feature-length films made in the Los Angeles area before The Squaw Man include From Dusk to Dawn (1913) and The Sea Wolf (1913). American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures.
  13. ^ Eileen Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema, 1907–1915, University of California Press, 1990, p. 160. ISBN 978-0520085343.
  14. ^ Koszarski (1994), p. 99.
  15. ^ Russell Leavitt, In California: A Fading Hollywood, TIME magazine, June 14, 1982
  16. ^ "Hollywood-Wilshire Health Center." Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. Retrieved on March 18, 2010.
  17. ^ "Post Office™ Location - HOLLYWOOD." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on March 18, 2010.
  18. ^ "Post Office™ Location - HOLLYWOOD PAVILION." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on March 18, 2010.
  19. ^ "Post Office™ Location - SUNSET." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on March 18, 2010.
  20. ^ City of Los Angeles Census 2000 Statistical Profile, Community Plan Area: Hollywood
  21. ^ Board District 4 Map. Los Angeles Unified School District. Retrieved on November 24, 2008.
  22. ^ "Board Members." Los Angeles Unified School District. Retrieved on November 24, 2008.
  23. ^ "Two LAUSD board members retire, Friedlander wins Shoah scholarship prize." The Jewish Journal. November 12, 2008.


  • Keith, Gaelyn Whitley (2006). The Father of Hollywood: The True Story. BookSurge Publishing. ISBN 1419641948.
  • Koszarski, Richard (1994). An Evening's Entertainment: The Age of the Silent Feature Picture, University of California Press. ISBN 0520085353.
  • Niver, Kemp R. (1971). Biograph Bulletins, 1896–1908. Los Angeles: Locare Research Group.
  • Robertson, Patrick (2001). Film Facts, Billboard Books.
  • Scott, Allen J. (2005). On Hollywood: The Place, The Industry. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691116830.

External links

Coordinates: 34°06′N 118°20′W / 34.1°N 118.333°W / 34.1; -118.333


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