Hollywood is probably one of the most famous cities in the world today. Ask anyone and they will tell you that the name is synonymous with motion pictures.
It started out as a small agricultural community in 1870, known as the Cahuenga Valley. Hollywood was incorporated as a municipality in 1903 and merged with the City of Los Angeles in 1910. Soon thereafter a motion picture industry began to emerge, eventually becoming dominant force in the world.
The city was given its name by real estate developer Hobart J. Whitley’s wife in 1886.
The first motion picture studio in Hollywood was built by the Nestor Motion Picture Co. on the corner of Sunset and Gower. Nestor Studios merged one year later with the Universal Film Co.
The first feature film made in Hollywood was “The Squaw Man” directed by Cecil B. DeMille in 1914. This first screen version was the legendary director’s first movie assignment. The Squaw Man went on to become the only movie successfully filmed three times by the same director. DeMille made a silent remake in 1918, and a talkie version in 1931.
The Hollywood sign is a must see for any visitor to Hollywood. The sign, erected in 1923, originally spelled out “Hollywoodland” and was an advertisement for a housing development in the Hollywood Hills. It was declared a historical landmark in 1972 and today it stands as the most recognized symbol in Los Angeles.
Grauman’s Chinese Theater is the most famous movie theater in the world where almost every giant premiere of the last one hundred years has taken place. In front of the theater you will find hundreds of hand and foot prints of some of Hollywood’s finest preserved in cement. Many are inscribed with personal notes to Sid Grauman who opened the theater.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame features 2,488 stars. Most celebrities pay a $25,000 sponsorship fee before their star will be placed on the Walk of Fame.
Madame Tussauds wax museum originated in London and has branched out to a number of cities including Hollywood. It was founded by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud and was formerly known as “Madame Tussaud’s”; the apostrophe is no longer used.
The displays are rotated regularly so you will never know who you will encounter during your visit.
Every major artist worth their weight in salt has played at the Hollywood Bowl. It’s an outside concert venue that is shaped like a bowl and fits snug in the Hollywood Hills. Everyone from Frank Sinatra to Motley Crue have played at the Bowl.
The easily recognizable Capital Records Tower constructed in 1956 was the first circular office building. A little known fact about the Capital Records Tower is a blinking light at the top that spells out Hollywood in Morse code.
The building that houses today’s Hollywood Museum at 1660 North Highland at Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood was originally purchased by Max Factor, legendary make-up artist to the stars, in 1928, just before the Great Depression. It was not until 1935 that it was finally opened. Famed architect S. Charles Lee designed it in the so-called Hollywood regency art deco style. Lee was celebrated for his design of many of the grand motion picture theaters in Los Angeles as well as hotels and other signature buildings in the city and elsewhere in California.
Through Max Factor this became much more than an elegant building. For the first time in history movie stars, women of high society and working women were all able to go to a public place for their make-up without the stigma that was commonly associated with women who wore make-up in those days.
Combining the historic with the new, Hollywood offers something for everyone visiting this land of dreams. Touristy, shabby, chic, metaphoric; it is a must see at least once in a lifetime.