Over the years, “Hollywood” has become synonymous with Los Angeles. In the heart of Hollywood lies Hollywood Blvd, which is also home to most of the legendary Walk of Fame. Here’s a brief trip through Hollywood’s remarkable history:
c. 500 - Tongva Native Americans settle in the Los Angeles basin. There will eventually be a great number of Tongva living in and around Hollywood, notably in the Cahuenga Pass, which links Hollywood and the basin to the San Fernando Valley to the northwest. The word Cahuenga, which is Spanish, comes from the Tongva word Cahug-Na, meaning “place of the hill.”
1850 - On April 4th, Los Angeles is incorporated as a City. This same year, California is admitted to the Union.
1880s - Agriculture is abundant in the Los Angeles area, including in Hollywood, which is known for citrus, vegetables, and figs. The area is also home to sheep grazing and dry farming.
1881 - Former Senator Cornelius Cole, who represented California from 1867-1873 and was a close associate of President Abraham Lincoln, settles on his “Colegrove” ranch, located and south and east of Hollywood. The land for the ranch was given to Cole by the Hancocks, the owners of Rancho La Brea. Sunset Blvd becomes the northern border of the town of Colegrove.
1884 - The first post office in the Cahuenga Valley - as the area was then known - opens in Colegrove.
1886 - Newlyweds Harvey and Daeida Wilcox head west to the Los Angeles area from Topeka, Kansas, and purchase more than 100 acres of land just south of the Cahuenga Pass, nestled underneath the foothills of what would later become known as the Hollywood Hills. The Wilcoxes intend to develop a new town in the area.
1887 - On February 1st, Harvey Wilcox submits a grid map of his new town to the Los Angeles County Recorder. This is the first official document that bears the name “Hollywood.” Though the exact origins of the name are unknown, it is generally credited to Daeida Wilcox.
1887 - The first post office in Hollywood opens at the southeast corner of Cahuenga Blvd and Prospect Ave (later to become Hollywood Blvd), in the Sackett Hotel.
1891 - Harvey Wilcox passes away, widowing Daeida.
1894 - Daeida Wilcox marries Philo Beveridge, the son of a former governor of Illinois. She continues to plot out the Hollywood subdivision with churches for a library, schools, and the artist Paul De Longpre, who builds a mansion at what is now the northwest corner of Hollywood and Cahuenga Blvds.
1902 - The original 40-room Hollywood Hotel opens at the northwest corner of Prospect Ave and Highland Ave. Today, the Hollywood & Highland Center stands on this spot, and hosts the Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre.
1903 - Hollywood is incorporated as a city, with boundaries encompassing roughly Crescent Heights Blvd on the west, Fountain Ave on the south, Normandie Ave on the east, and the hills between Griffith Park and the Hollywood Bowl.
1903 - The Janes family builds a two-story Queen Anne/Dutch Colonial Revival home on Hollywood Blvd between what is now Whitley and Hudson Aves. Today, it is known as the Janes House and, though it is operated as a nightlife venue, is the last remaining single-family home on Hollywood Blvd.
1905 - The success of the Hollywood Hotel leads to an expansion to 125 rooms and new amenities including a ballroom and chapel.
1909 - The town of Colegrove, just south of Hollywood, votes to be incorporated by the growing city of Los Angeles, mostly to have greater access to water. Colegrove’s main road, Colegrove Blvd, soon becomes Santa Monica Blvd.
1910 - Like Colegrove a year before, the independent city of Hollywood votes to be annexed by Los Angeles. That same year, Prospect Ave is officially renamed Hollywood Blvd.
1913 - The first feature film, Squaw Man, is shot in Hollywood. Its director, Cecil B. de Mille, had his headquarters in a barn located at the corner of Selma Avenue and Vine Street. Today, the structure is known as the Lasky-DeMille Barn and is used as a museum dedicated to Hollywood history and operated by Hollywood Heritage.
1919 - Musso & Frank Grill opens on Hollywood Blvd. Still standing today, it is Hollywood’s oldest restaurant.
1922 - Sid Grauman opens the Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Blvd with the world’s first movie premiere - Robin Hood, starring Douglas Fairbanks.
1922 - The Hollywood Bowl, located on Highland Ave in the Cahuenga Pass, opens.
1923 - A sign on Mt. Lee is erected, advertising the new Hollywoodland development in the Hollywood Hills. The sign originally reads “HOLLYWOODLAND.”
1926 - The El Capitan Theatre opens on Hollywood Blvd as a live theatre.
1927 - The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel opens. It was founded by a group of Hollywood icons including Louis B. Mayer, Sid Grauman, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks.
1927 - Sid Grauman opens Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. Known today as TCL Chinese Theatre, it is famous for its front courtyard, which showcases the handprints and footprints of dozens of entertainment icons from over the decades. The first stars to take part in this tradition were Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.
1929 - The first Academy Awards ceremony is held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in its famous “Blossom Room.” The actual ceremony lasted just five minutes.
1938 - The Los Angeles City Council ratifies the boundaries of “Hollywood,” roughly along the same lines as the original 1903 incorporation.
1942 - The El Capitan becomes the Paramount Theatre and begins showing motion pictures.
1944 - The Pacific Electric Railway, known colloquially as the “Red Car,” reaches peak ridership, with 109 million total riders on more than 1,150 miles of track across four counties in Southern California. Hollywood Blvd is a major thoroughfare for the Red Car.
1949 - The Hollywoodland Sign is rebuilt and repaired by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Upon being rebuilt, the last four letters are removed and it becomes known all across the world as the Hollywood Sign.
1950s - Like many urban centers across the United States, Hollywood begins to experience a decline, as Americans begin moving toward the suburbs.
1956 - The Capitol Records building opens on Vine Street. It is the world’s first circular office tower.
1960 - After a demonstration project in 1958 at the corner of Hollywood and Highland, the Hollywood Walk of Fame is officially dedicated on November 23rd, in conjunction with the Hollywood Christmas Parade. The entirety of the original Walk - 1,558 stars - is officially completed the following spring.
1962 - The Los Angeles City Council designates the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce as the primary agent to handle additions to the Walk of Fame.
1962 - The final Red Car trolleys go out of service.
1970 - Hollywood plays host to L.A.’s first gay pride parade, beginning at the intersection of Hollywood Blvd and McCadden Place.
1978 - The Hollywood Sign, having fallen into dilapidation, is completely restored thanks to a successful campaign by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
1980 - Hollywood Heritage, a non-profit historical society, is founded. It has been vital to numerous preservation efforts and is still operating today.
1985 - Much of Hollywood Blvd becomes listed on the National Register of Historic Places, an effort led by Hollywood Heritage.
1986 - Hollywood becomes an official project of The Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), with the adoption of its Redevelopment Plan on May 7th. Though the CRA was dismantled by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2012, the Plan will remain in effect until 2027. The CRA becomes a catalyst for helping to restore and revitalize the heart of Hollywood.
1991 - The Hollywood Farmers Market opens for business on May 5th. It continues to operate every Sunday, rain or shine, on Ivar and Selma Aves.
1994 - The Walk of Fame is extended one block west, from Sycamore Ave to La Brea Ave. This expansion was a project spearheaded by the CRA. Sophia Loren receives the 2,000th star on the Walk.
1996 - The Hollywood Entertainment District B.I.D. is formed, encompassing Hollywood Blvd between La Brea and Highland Aves. Today, it covers a wide expanse of Hollywood and is one of the largest business improvement districts in California.
2001 - The Hollywood & Highland Center opens, becoming a major catalyst for revitalization of the western end of the Walk of Fame. Adjacent to the complex is the Kodak Theatre - now known as the Dolby - which becomes the new, permanent home of the Academy Awards. This marks Oscar’s return to Hollywood for the first time in decades.
2010 - The W Hollywood opens at Hollywood and Vine. A complex including a hotel, residences, and restaurants, it is a catalyst for revitalization of the eastern end of the Walk of Fame.
Thanks to Hollywood Heritage for helping with the historical facts on this page.