Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Hollywood Story



Hollywood, a name that we have come to know so well from the movies we have watched on the screens and the mere mention of it brings to mind the picture of glamour, style, fame and glittering moments on the red carpet. It is no secret that Hollywood is the representation of the motion pictures industry in the United States which many longed (from their screens) to be a part of all that fame and celebrity lifestyle with the glitz and spotlights shining on them.
Hollywood is definitely known for its entertainment hub; with the movie studios and galas taking place in this very location every year.

Located in the central region of Los Angeles, Hollywood is a district with a humble beginning. Starting from an agricultural past, the area slowly bloomed under the direction of H.J. Whitley, who had also became known as the founder, or fondly referred to as the "Father of Hollywood" when he first purchased a 500-acre land and planned for the development and resale of the land. In the age when the real estate business embarked on its early period of boom in late 1887, it was when Hollywood showed signs of minor growth.

The name "Hollywood" was coined by Daeida Wilcox Beveridge, who was also known as the "Mother of Hollywood"; a co-owner of a ranch located in the eastern part adjacent to the district. It was probably inspired by her neighbor in Holly Canyon (now known as Lake Hollywood) and she wasted no time in recommending the name to her husband, Harvey H. Wilcox who then filed it with the Los Angeles County Recorder's office when he sold the property, naming the place "Hollywood".
Daeida Wilcox was a well-established investor in her time, and was coincidentally a friend of Whitley (the Father of Hollywood).

Who would have thought that the place would today be one of the most talked-about place in the world, and even an important representation of the movie industry in the entire country and the world?

Despite the small population they have back then in the 1870, Hollywood became a municipality in 1903 and then eventually merged with the city of Los Angeles in the year 1910 where the film industry started to pave their way in, making them today, the capital of entertainment.
Hollywood is today,  the 7th most dense city in the county of Los Angeles, and is truly a melting pot of multiple ethnicities and diversified backgrounds. Besides entertainment, Hollywood is also varied in its economic sectors and flourished as one of the major retail business hubs in the country.



It is no surprise that Hollywood is home to affluent communities and also buzzing with the movie icons and filmmakers who are often spotted in the district; owing to the fact that the district is also filled with the movie studios. In fact, some of the movie studios have come a long way and have even become part of the historical background which made up the history of the district.

Hollywood Sign
The famous Hollywood sign, located on Mount Lee in Hollywood Hills of the Santa Monica mountains is today a major tourist attraction and it is so famous that it has become an iconic landmark for the city of Los Angeles.





While many would probably dream of standing next to the lettered-sign to capture that jubilant moment of being in Hollywood, it is probably disappointing to learn that the sign is not accessible as it is situated on a rough and steep terrain on the part of the hill and is barricaded with alarm systems set to be triggered upon any unauthorized access which would have the local police notified immediately.

History of Hollywood Sign
It is interesting to note that the sign was initially made to state "Hollywoodland" in a marketing effort to introduce a new housing estate in the hills above Hollywood district of Chinatown, in the year 1923. The sign, in its early state was constructed to be 30 feet (9.1m) in width and 50 feet (15m) in height; along with an approximate of 4,000 light bulbs studs to light up the sign. The intention was to partition the sign into three segments; with HOLLY, WOOD, and LAND to be lighted up individually alternatively and in sequence, before lighting us a whole sign, in a design conceived by Thomas Fisk Golf, the owner of the sign company.
The total cost of the project was about $21,000 at that time, and the sign was initially planned to be placed for only a year and a half, for the duration of the development of the housing project but as fate would have it, the sign was retained and eventually became an iconic landmark sign until this very day following the emergence of the movie industry in the United States which continue to flourish and grow.

The sign has also been through many incidents in which the letter H was destroyed in an accident caused by the sign's official caretaker himself, Albert Kothe when his car crashed off the cliff; destroying the car and the letter, leaving Albert Kothe uninjured.
Following the incident, measures were taken and discussions were made to restore the sign in 1949, between the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the City of Los Angeles Parks Department in a contract which states that the word "LAND" would be removed to reflect the identity of the district instead of the housing estate project. The light bulbs were also removed at the decision of the Chamber of the Commerce who were supposed to maintain the costs of the lighting and hence, the new sign, Hollwood, sans the word "LAND" and lights was constructed and remained until this very day.
This sign was also marked as the site associated with the death of a starlet; Peg Entwhistle in 1932, when she committed suicide by jumping off the letters at the age of 24.


The crowds would usually gather at the peak in the quiet and affluent neighborhood; to catch a glimpse of the iconic sign and to take photos, which led to major traffic congestion in the area, to the displeasure of the local residents. This have raised various issues of controversy over the sign as residents complain about the flocking of tourists to an area which is clearly not designed for crowds and posed much inconveniences to their local community. Furthermore, the steep hilly area with narrow winding turns could pose a safety hazard to large tour buses and vehicles thronging the area.

I could empathize with the sentiments raised with the residents, and hopefully, there would be a good solution to end the residents' woes in the near future.

Hollywood is indeed a place where most dream to be, with its buzz of glamour and glitz, and even I myself could not believe the surreal experience of finally being here; of course, sans the Academy Awards and floor sweeping gowns, but still a memorable experience and yes, the sign is living proof that one is finally here.

*The Academy Awards continue to be held here every year; in the months of February/March since the year 2004.

Hollywood, is truly the capital of Entertainment....and will continue to live it up to its reputation and legacy~



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