Reaching out above the town of Hollywood itself is the well known Hollywood sign high on a hill at the end of Beachwood Drive. The 50 foot high letters used to spell out ‘Hollywoodland’. The original sign was placed in 1923 as an advertisement for a proposed housing development that was never built. Finally, in 1949, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce arranged to repair the deteriorating sign and to remove the last four letters. The site is now protected by high tech infrared cameras with radar-activated zoom lenses.
Hollywood is part of the city of Los Angeles, and is situated northwest of the downtown district. Hollywood’s southern border follows Melrose Avenue from Vermont Avenue west to La Brea Avenue. From there the boundary continues north on La Brea, wrapping west around the city of West Hollywood along Fountain Avenue before turning north again on Laurel Canyon Boulevard into the Hollywood Hills. The eastern boundary follows Vermont Avenue north from Melrose past Hollywood Boulevard to Franklin Avenue. From there the border goes west along Franklin to Western Avenue, and then north on Western into Griffith Park. Most of the hills between Laurel Canyon and Griffith Park are part of Hollywood.
Many of the old landmarks still stand. The intersection of Hollywood and Vine was supposedly the spot were many future stars were ‘discovered.’ Close by is the Capitol Records Building, which looks like a stack of 45 records on a turntable. Many big name artists of the 1950s and 1960s recorded on the Capitol label, and a large mural pays tribute to some of them. Further along Hollywood Boulevard is Hollywood’s most famous and popular attraction: Mann’s Chinese Theatre.
It was here that the tradition of immortalizing movie stars’ foot and handprints in cement began. This was supposed to have started when actress Norma Talmadge accidentally stepped on the wet concrete of the construction site. The Hollywood Walk of Fame, with the names of many show business and movie notables set in the sidewalk is close by. The Hollywood Forever Memorial Gardens provided the final resting place for many of Hollywood’s stars. The mausoleum of Rudolph Valentino and the shrine of Douglas Fairbanks Senior are often photographed.
At present, much of the movie industry has relocated in surrounding areas such as Burbank and the Westside of Los Angeles, but businesses such as editing, effects, props, post-production, and lighting remain in Hollywood.
In 1900, Hollywood had a population of 500 people. Los Angeles, with a population of 100,000, lay was seven miles east, separated from Hollywood by miles of lemon groves
Hollywood was incorporated as a municipality in 1903. Herds of cattle of more than 200 were banned from its dusty dirt streets. In 1904 it was annexed to Los Angeles and a trolley line was laid to connect the two via newly named Hollywood Boulevard.
In the early 1900s, motion picture production was dependent on outdoor light and sunshine. As improvements were made to roads, companies from New York and New Jersey started moving to California because of the reliable weather, longer days, and magnificent scenery.
The first movie studio in the Hollywood area, Nestor Studios, was founded in 1911 by Al Christie for David Horsley in an old building on the southeast corner of Sunset Boulevard and Gower Street. In the same year, another fifteen Independents settled in Hollywood. They were followed by hundreds of others.
In 1913, Cecil B. DeMille, in association with Jesse Lasky, leased a barn with studio facilities on the southeast corner of Selma and Vine Streets which is currently the location of the Hollywood Heritage Museum.
The Charlie Chaplin Studio, on the northeast corner of La Brea and De Longpre Avenues just south of Sunset Boulevard, was built in 1917.
The first Academy Awards presentation ceremony took place on May 16, 1929 during a banquet held in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard. Tickets were $10.00, and there were 250 people in attendance.
In 1927, the era of silent movies ended. From that year until the late 1940s, the Golden Age of Hollywood reigned. The 1950s saw the arrival of television years and movie studios began to produce for TV.
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.
In 1985, the Hollywood Boulevard commercial and entertainment district was officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places protecting important buildings and seeing to it that the significance of Hollywood’s past would always be a part of its future.
Within the past six years, the Hollywood extension of the Metro Red Line subway opened, running from downtown Los Angeles to the Valley, with stops on Hollywood Boulevard at Western Avenue, at Vine Street and at 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.
Modern day Hollywood is a diverse, vital, and active community working to preserve its past. Millions of people from all over the world still make a pilgrimage to Hollywood and experience nostalgia for that bygone, magical era of moviemaking and stardom.