When Spanish explorers first entered the area now known as Hollywood, Native Americans were living in the canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains. Before long, the Indians had been moved to missions and the land which Hollywood now occupies was divided in two by the Spanish Government. Acreage to the west became part of Rancho La Brea and settlements to the East became Rancho Los Feliz.
By the 1870s an agricultural community flourished in the area and crops ranging from hay and grain to subtropical bananas and pineapples were thriving. During the 1880s, the Ranchos were sub-divided. In 1886, H. H.Wilcox bought an area of Rancho La Brea that his wife then christened “Hollywood.” Within a few years, Wilcox had devised a grid plan for his new community, paved Prospect Avenue (now Hollywood Boulevard) for his main street and was selling large residential lots to wealthy Midwesterners looking to build homes so they could “winter in California.”
Prospect Avenue soon became a prestigious residential street populated with large Queen Anne, Victorian, and Mission Revival houses. Mrs. Daeida Wilcox raised funds to build churches, schools and a library and Hollywood quickly became a complete and prosperous community. This location of prime real estate was later named “Hollywoodland” in 1923.
In 1911, the Nestor Company opened Hollywood’s first film studio in an old tavern on the corner of Sunset and Gower. Not long thereafter Cecil B. DeMille and D. W. Griffith began making movies in the area drawn to the community for its open space and moderate climate.
The Hollywood sign soon became an American cultural icon of movie stars and film location so it became an official landmark and the “land” was dropped in 1949.
Hollywood tidbits and facts:
In 1906, a streetcar line was constructed in the Hollywood district down the middle of “Sandy Road”. This lane was known as the “Rose City Line”. The establishment of the streetcar route facilitated the growth of the suburb of Hollywood.
In 1923, Harry Chandler, a real estate agent and investor built the famous Hollywood Sign to advertise the area “Hollywoodland”. The total expense for this advertisement was $21,000. Initially, it was built to last only for eighteen months. However, as of today, the Hollywood Sign has lasted for eighty years.
In 1939, four thousand twenty-watt bulbs were put to illuminate the signboard and a caretaker was appointed to maintain the same. The part of land, which included the “Hollywood” sign, was sold to the city of LA.
The alphabets of the signboard began to fall down. To restore the same, in 1978 an auction of the alphabets was held by Hugh Hefner, founder of the magazine “Playboy”. This auction was held for a period of three months. Alice Cooper, American rock singer, sponsored the alphabet “O”. Gene Autry and Paul Williams sponsored the alphabets “L” and “W” respectively.
In 1995, a trust known as “Hollywood Sign Trust” was set up to maintain the Hollywood sign.
Hollywood is just as interesting to visit today and the city’s culture and crazy crowds makes for interesting people watching.