When the Spanish arrived in California and passed through the region that is present-day Hollywood, American Indians were life in the region, taking shelter in the canyons dispersed among the Santa Monica Mountain range. Within the first 100 years of the European arrival, most of the Indians of California had disappeared, having been decimated by disease, moved off to missions, or killed by the Spanish conquerors.
The region that is Hollywood was divided by the Spanish government into two areas. The western portion became Rancho La Brea and the east, Rancho Los Feliz. The region was an agricultural community that continued to flourish during the entire period of Spanish and Mexican rule and into the mid-eighties. In 1846, California became a U.S. territory after the Mexican American War and in the 1880s, the ranches were divided again, with large plots of land being put up for sale.
How Can This Be?
Judy Garland started out as a child actor and grew up to became a legend. In spite of all of the acclaim she received for her incredible singing voice and other gifts, she became one of Hollywood’s saddest figures.
As the story goes, a man by the name of H.J. Whitley called the region Hollywood while on his honeymoon with wife Gigi in 1886. That same year, Whitley bought a 500-acre portion of the former Rancho La Brea from a set of landowners, including one H.H. Wilcox. Whitley had plans to establish a town on the plot and when filing the selling of the land with the Los Angeles County Recorder, H.H. Wilcox recorded the name Hollywood on the deed.
Slowly but certainly, the town developed and by 1900, there was a newspaper, two markets, and post office. Just 10 miles east of Hollywood was historic Los Angeles, with a population approaching 102, 500. The land between consisted of barley fields, vineyards, and lemon and orange groves. A single streetcar line ran between the two communities but service was limited and a one-way trip took nearly two hours. A livery stable was later opened in Hollywood, greatly improving transportation available.
H.J. Whitley, known as the father of Hollywood, was the chairman of the Los Pacific Boulevard and Development Company and in 1902, began construction on the Hollywood Hotel. Whitley spent thousands of dollars to increase the area. He purchased more land and divided it into residential plots and installed electric lighting in a large part of the town.
The city was incorporated in 1903 and in 1910, it was annexed to the City of Los Angeles following a water crisis in which an adequate water supply for Hollywood was unable to be secured. When annexation was complete, the former Prospect Avenue of Hollywood was renamed Hollywood Boulevard.
The film industry actually began operation in Greater Los Angeles prior to the search for a home in Hollywood. Construction on the first studio began in 1909 in Edendale under the name of Selig Polyscope Company. The first motion picture filmed in Hollywood use H.J. Whitley’s home as its set. While the film never had an official name, it became a true piece of Hollywood history.
A number of filmmakers and movie producers relocated from the East Coast in an attempt to save money. An organization operating out of New Jersey, The Motion Picture Patents Company, had control over the motion picture industry on the East Coast and was regarded as detrimental by many of the less and independent film activities in the region. These filmmakers were free to set their own production and distribution standards without concern for the oppressive enforcement of patents on filmmaking equipment by relocating to Hollywood.
The first Hollywood studio was opened by the Centaur Company, a New Jersey-based operation with desires to make westerns. They initially rented a roadhouse on Sunset Boulevard which they later converted in 1911, naming it Nestor Studio. The first feature-length film created entirely in Hollywood was The Squaw Man, a Cecil B. DeMille film made in 1914.
By the year 1911, Los Angeles was the second-largest motion picture production city in the country, with New York retaining its top ranking. By 1915, Los Angeles had taken the top spot and most of the films in America were produced in or around Los Angeles, with four major studios-Paramount, RKO, Columbia and Warner Brothers-and several smaller companies and rental businesses calling Hollywood home. Hollywood went from a sedate suburb to a booming business hub within a span of just 10 years between 1910 and 1920.
Today the Hollywood film industry is positioned across the world. In this 21st century, the major business centers of filmmaking are concentrated in United States, India and China. Hollywood is a district in Los Angeles, California that is located in west-northwest of Downtown Los Angeles. The word Hollywood is often used as a connotation for the cinema of United States which is popularly known as the Hollywood film Industry due to its fame and cultural individuality of film studios and movie stars.
In 1918, H.J. Whitley commissioned the building of Whitley Heights, a hillside residential center above Hollywood Boulevard that would become the first celebrity community. Many of the industry’s biggest early names called the Heights home, including William Powell, Tyrone Powers, W.C. Field, Rudolph Valentino, Carole Lombard, and Jean Harlow, among others.
The world-famous Hollywood sign was erected in 1923, originally as an ad of a residential community which was being developing in the hills above Hollywood. It originally read "Hollywoodland.” H.J. Whitney had used a similar sign when constructing Whitney Heights in 1918 and was him to suggest the use of this a sign for the new residential development. The popularity of the second sign resulted in it becoming a permanent fixture. Originally intended as a temporary structure, the sign deteriorated over time and was refurbished in 1949. At this time, the “land" portion of the sign was removed.