We celebrate Hollywood and its great history in these HOLLYWOOD FACTOIDS, which will continue through the end of this week before fading into obscurity. (Perhaps not, if perhaps the call to action at the top and the bottom of this musing is finally heeded).
But have you ever wondered why Hollywood even exists in the first place? I know that when I’ve been dumb enough to be stuck on the boulevard of the same name in Friday night traffic, I’ve pondered that exact thought, though usually with frustration and not curiosity.
Well, hopefully, you’re not in a similar state of gridlock when we tell you we have two people to thank:
Hollywood was laid out as a subdivision in 1887 by Harvey Wilcox, who was a prohibitionist from Kansas. However, real-estate magnate H.J. Whitley transformed Hollywood into a wealthy and popular residential area. Hollywood became a municipality in 1903 and was incorporated into Los Angeles in 1910.
Harvey Wilcox, who has a major north-south street in the area named for him, was, per a HISTORY.com profile, an opportunist who perhaps had a rose-colored glass vision of what he believed could be:
Wilcox, who had lost the use of his legs as a child due to polio, envisioned the land as the perfect site for a utopian-like community for devout Christians, where they could live a highly moral life free of vices such as alcohol (Wilcox was a prohibitionist). Daeida Wilcox called the new community “Hollywood.” Harvey laid out a street map of the settlement, centered on a main street he called Prospect Avenue (it was later renamed Hollywood Boulevard). After filing the map with the L.A. County recorder’s office, Wilcox set about laying out Hollywood’s streets, made of dirt and lined with pepper trees.
But it was Whitley who had the foresight to make Hollywood, well, HOLLYWOOD, per Wikipedia:
Hollywood was then a rural settlement of eighteen families; Whitley envisioned Hollywood “as a thriving suburb of Los Angeles.” He subdivided 400 acres of open fields and gardens into a residential section, and more families came here to live.”
Whitley became a major shareholder, with Harrison Gray Otis and George W. Hoover, of the Los Angeles Pacific Boulevard and Development Company. He orchestrated the opening of the Ocean View Tract and construction of a bank located on the corners of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland.
And think of the kinds of parties that have occurred over the years in Whitley Heights.
That’s reason enough to say hooray. Among other things.
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