It is notable for its place as the home of the entertainment industry, including several of its historic studios. Its name has come to be a metonym for the motion picture industry of the United States. Hollywood is also a highly ethnically diverse, densely populated, economically diverse neighborhood and retail business district.
Hollywood was a small community in 1870 and was incorporated as a municipality in 1903. It officially merged with the city of Los Angeles in 1910, and soon thereafter a prominent film industry began to emerge, eventually becoming the most dominant and recognizable in the world.
Early history and development
In 1853, one adobe hut stood in Nopalera (Nopal field), named for the Mexican Nopal cactus indigenous to the area. By 1870, an agricultural community flourished. The area was known as the Cahuenga Valley, after the pass in the Santa Monica Mountains immediately to the north.
The name "Hollywood" was coined by H. J. Whitley, the "Father of Hollywood". The name is a reference to the Toyon, a native plant with bright red winter berries that resemble holly. Originally the name "Figwood" was to be used to name the area due to the surrounding number of fig trees. Whitley arranged to buy the 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, Hurd's wife, eastern adjacent ranch co-owner Daeida Wilcox, and others.
An alternate derivation for the name comes from histories on Hollywood, Illinois (now part of Brookfield, IL) and Hollywood, Florida. Mrs. Wilcox was said to have met a woman on a train trip to the East. The woman told Mrs. Wilcox about her lovely ranch in Hollywood, Illinois. Mrs. Wilcox was said to be so enamored of the name that she appropriated it for the property she and her husband Harvey were planning in the Cahuenga Valley, as it was then known. Further research yielded that a parcel of land in Illinois was, in fact named Hollywood and was owned by John D. Rockefeller and his wife, Laura. When their fourth daughter Edith married Harold McCormick, heir to the farming equipment fortune in 1895, John D. and Laura Rockefeller gifted the ranch to her. The lower part of the area known as Hollywood was purchased by a Samuel Gross in 1893 who subdivided the property for housing and development. Mrs. McCormick donated her parcel of Hollywood to the Cook County Forest Preserve District for development as a zoological garden in 1919 and it is now the Brookfield Zoo. Often this story is repeated as Mrs. Wilcox having met Mrs. McCormick, but as the Wilcoxes filed the name with the City of Los Angeles in 1887. when Mrs. McCormick was but 15, the woman Mrs. Wilcox met was her mother, Mrs. Rockefeller, who owned the property with her husband, John D. Rockefeller.,
Daeida Wilcox may have learned of the name Hollywood from Ivar Weid, her neighbor in Holly Canyon (now Lake Hollywood) and a prominent investor and friend of Whitley's. She recommended the same name to her husband, Harvey. H. Wilcox. On February 1, 1887, Wilcox filed a deed and map of property he sold with the Los Angeles County Recorder's office, named "Hollywood, California." Wilcox wanted to be the first to record it on a deed. The early real-estate boom busted that same year, yet Hollywood began its slow growth.
By 1900, the region had a post office, newspaper, hotel, and two markets. Los Angeles, with a population of 102,479 lay 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 was converted into a livery stable, improving transportation for the inhabitants of Hollywood.
Daeida Wilcox Beveridge, the "Mother of Hollywood," gave three lots to the painter Paul de Longpré at Cahuenga Boulevard and Prospect Avenue (Hollywood Boulevard), for cultural enhancement of the town. His extensive flower gardens and mansion with public art gallery became an early tourist attraction in Los Angeles.
Whitley's company developed and sold one of the early residential areas, the Ocean View Tract. Whitley did much to promote the area. He paid thousands of dollars for electric lighting, including bringing electricity and building a bank, as well as a road into the Cahuenga Pass. The lighting ran for several blocks down Prospect Avenue. Whitley's land was centered on Highland Avenue.
Incorporation and merger
Hollywood was incorporated as a municipality on November 14, 1903, by a vote of 88 for and 77 against. On January 30, 1904, the voters in Hollywood decided, by a vote of 113 to 96, for the banishment of liquor in the city, except when it was being sold for medicinal purposes. Neither hotels nor restaurants were allowed to serve wine or liquor before or after meals.
In 1910, the city voted for merger with Los Angeles in order to secure an adequate water supply and to gain access to the L.A. sewer system. With annexation, the name of Prospect Avenue changed to Hollywood Boulevard and all the street numbers in the new district changed.
Motion picture industry
By 1912, major motion-picture companies had set up production near or in Los Angeles. In the early 1900s, most motion picture patents were held by Thomas Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company in New Jersey, and filmmakers were often sued to stop their productions. To escape this, filmmakers began moving out west, where Edison's patents could not be enforced. Also, the weather was ideal and there was quick access to various settings. Los Angeles became the capital of the film industry.
The first studio in Hollywood, the Nestor Company, was established by the New Jersey–based Centaur Company in a roadhouse at 6121 Sunset Boulevard (the corner of Gower), in October 1911. Four major film companies – Paramount, Warner Bros., RKO, and Columbia – had studios in Hollywood, as did several minor companies and rental studios. In the 1920s, Hollywood was the fifth largest industry in the nation.
Hollywood became known as Tinseltown and Movie Biz City because of the glittering image of the movie industry. Hollywood has since become a major center for film study in the United States.
The name "Hollywood" is often applied to any film or TV production location within Greater Los Angeles, whether or not it is actually physically located within Hollywood itself. For example, from the time it relocated from New York in 1972 until its host retired in 1992, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was announced as being broadcast "from Hollywood" when in truth it originated from a studio facility in Burbank. Similarly, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's storied film studio facility, associated with the Golden Age of Hollywood (and today known as Sony Pictures Studios) is actually located in Culver City, a number of miles from Hollywood.
During the early 1950 the Hollywood Freeway was constructed through the northeast corner of Hollywood.
The Capitol Records Building on Vine Street, just north of Hollywood Boulevard, was built in 1956, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame was created in 1958 as a tribute to artists and other significant contributors to the entertainment industry. The official opening was on February 8, 1960.
The Hollywood Boulevard Commercial and Entertainment District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
In June 1999, the Hollywood extension of the Los Angeles County Metro Rail Red Line subway opened from Downtown Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley, with stops along Hollywood Boulevard at Western Avenue (Hollywood/Western Metro station), Vine Street (Hollywood/Vine Metro station), and Highland Avenue (Hollywood/Highland Metro station).
After years of serious decline in the 1980s, many Hollywood landmarks were threatened with demolition. Columbia Square, at the northeast corner of Sunset Boulevard and Gower Street, is part of the ongoing rebirth of Hollywood. The Art Deco-style studio complex completed in 1938, which was once the legendary Hollywood headquarters for CBS, became home to a new generation of popular broadcasters when cable television networks MTV, Comedy Central, BET and Spike TV consolidated their offices here in 2014 as part of a $420-million office, residential and retail complex.
Since 2000, Hollywood has been increasingly gentrified due to revitalization by private enterprise and public planners, and the popularity of Hollywood's celebrity culture.
In 2002, some Hollywood voters began a campaign for the district to secede from Los Angeles and become a separate municipality. 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 ballot. 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.