History of Hollywood
Although it is not the typical practice of the City of Los Angeles to establish specific boundaries for districts or neighborhoods, Hollywood is a recent exception. On February 16, 2005, Assembly Members Goldberg and Koretz introduced a bill to require the State to keep specific records on Hollywood as though it were independent. For this to be done, the boundaries were defined. This bill was unanimously supported by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the LA City Council. Assembly Bill 588 was approved by the Governor on August 28, 2006, and now the district of Hollywood has official borders. The border is shown at the right, and can be loosely described as the area east of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, south of Mulholland Dr., Laurel Canyon, Cahuenga Blvd. and Barham Blvd., and the cities of Burbank and Glendale, north of Melrose Avenue, and west of the Golden State Freeway and Hyperion Avenue.
Note that this includes all of Griffith Park and Los Feliz—two areas that were hitherto generally considered separate from Hollywood by most Angelinos. The population of the district (including Los Feliz) as of the 2000 census was 208,237 . The commercial, cultural, and transportation center of Hollywood is the area where La Brea Avenue, Highland Avenue, Cahuenga Boulevard, and Vine Street intersect Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard. The population of the district is estimated to be about 300,000.
As a portion of the City of Los Angeles, Hollywood does not have its own municipal government, but does have an appointed official that serves as "honorary mayor" for ceremonial purposes only. Currently, the "mayor" is Johnny Grant. Since this is a non-elected, honorary position, Grant has held this position for decades.
1. Hollywood between 1800-1922
1.1 The beginning of Hollywood
There was a time when the only stars in Hollywood were found in the night skies, arching over quiet farms and adobes. Before Hollywood became an entertainment mecca, it was home of pioneers, citrus groves and… stray camels.
The first recorded human residents of 'Hollywood' were the Gabrielino Indians. Writing in his diary of 1769, a Spanish priest noted Indian villages with their brush huts scattered in the canyons. After the first Spanish pueblo of Los Angeles was established, the native Gabrielinos vanished with hardly a trace. "Cahuenga", meaning "little hills" in their language, is one of the few reminders of their founding presence.
Mexico controlled California until the Mexican War of 1947. After the war, Mexican landowners were replaced by farmers from the East, including the new owners of Rancho La Brea (now Hollywood). In 1853, one adobe hut stood on the site that became Hollywood. By 1870, an agricultural community flourished in the area with thriving crops, grain to subtropical bananas and pineapples.
Until the mid-1800, the vast reaches and resources of California belonged to Mexico. When the United States defeated Mexico in the Mexican War of 1847, the original Mexican landowners, with the help of some slippery laws, lost their sprawling estates to farmers from the East. Adobes were replaced with wood frame houses with porches and windmills. Rancho La Brea, in the area now known as Hollywood, wound up in the hands of a family who built a tar refinery. Workers of the tar beds unearthed the bones and teeth of prehistoric saber-toothed cats, woolly mammoths and dinosaurs. The family eventually gave the remarkable fossil beds, known as the La Brea Tar Pits, to Los Angeles County.
During the 19th century, Hollywood was basically a frontier town complete with Westward Ho, pioneers, cowboys and the occasional bandit, straight out of central casting. It also had its share of flamboyant settlers, including one named “Greek George". George arrived in the Cahuenga Valley with a drove of camels imported from Turkey. When the Mexican War broke out, George simply set the camels loose. Somehow it seems fitting that frontier Hollywood should evoke surreal images like this one: hundreds of camels roaming free in the Hollywood Hills right through 1900.
The name „Hollywood has its origin in a Easter summer, home to a Cahuenga Valley ranch. In the middle of a sun-drenched nowhere, a sober, God-fearing man and woman settled in to create a like-minded community. Harvey Henderson Wilcox of Kansas, who made a fortune in real estate even though he had lost the use of his legs due to typhoid fever, and his wife, Daeida, moved to Los Angeles from Topeka in 1883. In 1886, Wilcox bought 160 acres (0.6 km²) of land in the countryside to the west of the city at the foothills, in the Cahuenga Valley at, what is now, Hollywood Blvd. and Cahuenga Ave. He thought it would be a perfect site for a community that would reflect his conservative beliefs, and he built his house smack in the middle of a fig orchard.
Accounts of the name, Hollywood, coming from imported English holly then growing in the area are incorrect. The name in fact was coined by Daeida Wilcox (1861–1914) who travelled by train to her old home in the east. On the train, Mrs. Wilcox met a woman who described her summer home in Ohio named after a settlement of Dutch immigrants from Zwolle called "Hollywood”. Daeida was so elated with the name that she "borrowed" it for her ranch in the Cahuenga Valley; when she returned home she prevailed on her husband to name their property Hollywood. With that simple exchange, one of the most famous towns in the world got its name.
Harvey Wilcox soon drew up a grid map for a town, which he filed with the county recorder's office on February 1, 1887, the first official appearance of the name Hollywood. With his wife as a constant advisor, he carved out Prospect Avenue (later Hollywood Boulevard) for the main street, lining it and the other wide dirt avenues with pepper trees, and began selling lots. Daeida raised money to build two churches, a school and a library. They imported some English holly because of the name Hollywood, but the bushes did not last.
By 1900, Hollywood also had a post office, a newspaper, a hotel and two markets, along with a population of 500 people. Los Angeles, with a population of 100,000 people at the time, lay seven miles (11 km) east through the citrus groves. A single-track streetcar line ran down the middle of Prospect Avenue from Los Angeles, but service was infrequent and the trip took two hours.
Shortly after the turn of the century, the residents of the Cahuenga Valley were faced with three pressing problems. The streets were not getting the attention in proportion to the tax being levied by the county; a lack of school facilities and a growing sentiment for prohibition.
In August, 1903, a petition was submitted to the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors requesting the incorporation of the City of Hollywood. The election for city hood was held on November 14, 1903 with voting lasting until 5:00 PM. After all the ballots were counted, the vote was eighty-eight for incorporation and seventy-seven against. Hollywood became a city of the sixth class with geographic boundaries extending from Normandie on the east, to Fairfax on the west, and from the top of the Santa Monica Mountains on the north to DeLongpre and Fountain avenues on the south.
Hollywood's first laws paint a telling portrait of the culture in those early days. Liquor was prohibited except as a medical prescription; bicycles and velocipedes were prohibited on sidewalks; and horses, cattle and mules were no to be driven through Hollywood streets in herds of more than 200. Herds of more than 2000 hogs or sheep were banned if unattended by a "competent man". Hardly the live-it-up tinsel town it would become in two short decades...
In 1904, a new trolley car track running from Los Angeles to Hollywood up Prospect Avenue was opened. The system was called "the Hollywood boulevard." It cut travel time to and from Los Angeles drastically. City hood for Hollywood only lasted six years. Hollywood’s population had grown too rapidly for the then existing water and municipal facilities. Annexation to the City of Los Angeles would assure the burgeoning community of adequate water, sewage and municipal services.
The election, held in 1910, was an overwhelming victory for annexation. Hollywood became part of Los Angeles.
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