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a neighborhood of Los Angeles that is generally bounded by Griffith Park and Mulholland Drive on the north, Melrose Avenue on the south, Normandie Avenue on the east, and Sunset Boulevard on the west

map showing boundaries of Hollywood

In the 1870's, the area that is now Hollywood was a thriving agricultural community of orchards and farms growing a variety of crops and exotic plants. In 1886, Harvey Henderson Wilcox, a real estate developer from Kansas, bought 160 acres of land in the area and drew up a grid plan for a community; he filed his plan with the County of Los Angeles on February 1, 1887. He subsequently laid out and paved Prospect Avenue (now Hollywood Boulevard) and began selling large residential lots to wealthy Midwesterners so they could "winter in California." As the community grew, his wife Daeida raised funds to build churches, schools and a library, and within a few years many of the orchards and farms had been replaced with businesses and homes. The City of Hollywood, a name chosen by Daeida Wilcox, was incorporated in 1903.

Although Hollywood enjoyed an early burst of growth, its future was soon in doubt due to lack of a dependable water supply. In 1910, Hollywood residents voted in favor of annexation by the City of Los Angeles so they could take advantage of a new aqueduct being built into that city, as well as the city's sewer system.

The movie industry came to Hollywood in 1911, when David Horsley leased a former tavern at the corner of Sunset and Gower and established the Nestor Company. Other companies soon followed suit, and for decades the name "Hollywood" was synonomous with the movie industry. As the movie studios gradually moved out of Hollywood they were replaced by television and music production houses, and Hollywood is still an entertainment mecca.

The iconic sign that now overlooks Hollywood once said "Hollywoodland" and was erected in 1923 to advertise a housing development in the Hollywood Hills. Over the subsequent years, as the hills were filled with luxury homes, the sign gradually fell victim to time and vandalism. By the 1960's the sign was in such sad state that there was talk of demolishing it. The sign was saved however, thanks to hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.

Hollywood sign

The first stars were installed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1958.

Other sites of interest in Hollywood include Grauman's Chinese Theater (famous for its courtyard full of celebrity footprints), the Hollywood Wax Museum, the Capitol Records building (which looks like a huge stack of records), and Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery (where Marilyn Monroe and many other stars are buried). The Hollywood Boulevard commercial and entertainment district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

Official Websites

Historic LA
Hollywood Chamber of Commerce

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The Robinson Library >> Los Angeles

This page was last updated on February 09, 2019.