As we all know, Hollywood is not a city. It is a neighborhood, perhaps the most famous one in the world. Here is a short history told through photos. Come back often because there is a lot to add.
The Six Mile House, named for its distance to Los Angeles, was a liquor/wine bar located at the NE corner of Gower and Sunset in the 1880s. Another name for it was La Baig’s Casa Cahuenga.
Sunset Boulevard facing west from around Wilcox, c. 1883.
“Hollywood looking south from near Gower St. and Temple Hill Dr., 1890.
Grading and laying down street car tracks along Prospect Avenue (aka Hollywood Blvd.), circa 1898. (USC Digital Archive)
Two men standing on top of Olive Hill in East Hollywood, circa 1900. The buildings below include the Prospect Park station, a post office and possibly a couple of residences. Today, Olive Hill is where you’ll find the Barnsdall Art Park, including the Hollyhock House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (completed in 1921). (LAPL)
A drive along Prospect Ave. (now Hollywood Blvd.) in 1903. (USC Archive)
Prospect Avenue (aka Hollywood Blvd.) near Cahuenga in 1905.
Hollywood, looking north from Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Avenue. (LAPL 00071592)
A field of Poinsettas in the early 20th century.
Aerial view of Metro Studios in 1921.
The furthest horizontal street at the top of the picture is Melrose; the next horizontal street down is Waring followed by Willoughby then Romaine. Eleanor is the shortened street at the very, very bottom of the photo.
Still with me? I’m barely following myself at this point.
Okay–the vertical (diagonal) street farthest to the left is Lillian; next diagonal street is Cahuenga followed by Cole, Wilcox and Hudson.
While Metro is the main industrial looking complex near the center of the photo, if you look slightly down and left, you will see another square block of what also appears to be a studio lot. This was the Buster Keaton studio, bordered by Lillian, Romaine, Cahuenga and Eleanor.
Whew! Hope all that makes sense.
Hunley’s Theatre, a 1921 built 750-seat movie palace once located at 5115 Hollywood Boulevard (near Normandie). It was designed by Meyer and Holler and erected by the Milwaukee Building Company. The Theatre’s claim to fame at opening was its Robert-Morgan organ, capable of making up to 49 sounds.
In 1924, Otis Hunley, proprietor, sold the theater to W.W. Wetson, the first of many changes inownership.
Over several decades, the theatre remained a mainstream movie house, enduring numerous renovations and name changes. However, as a theatrical venue, it eventually declined due the growing popularity of multi-screen theaters.
In the mid 1970s, what was left of the original building became a gay porn house called the Century Theater, which lasted until the mid 1980s. It might have had a brief life as a private club after the porn theater closed. Oddly enough, no one really seems to recall exactly when the building burned down. As far as I can judge, it was after 1986 and possibly before the Rodney King riots. Today, the site is a parking lot.
Photo is circa 1922. (LAPL)
Somewhere in the foothills, c. 1924 (probably near the Wattles Mansion).
Early homes in the Hollywoodland housing development, circa 1925.
Up ahead and to the right appears to be the Villa Carlotta, located at 5959 Franklin Ave., which was build in 1926. Photo: Water and Power Associates.
Chorus girls at the Music Box Theatre (now the Henry Fonda Theatre) at 6126 Hollywood Blvd, circa 1927. The live stage venue once had a speakeasy.
Hollywood and Vine, circa 1927.
Hollywood and Cahuenga, c. 1928. (LAPL)
Various sources claim that this photo was taken at the Muller Bros. service station, circa 1928, once located at 6380 Sunset Boulevard (site of the CineramaDome). (LAPL)
The Hollywood Storage Co. Building, located at 1025 N. Highland Ave at the corner Highland and Santa Monica Blvd. Back in the day, the building housed radio station KMTR, which belonged to the Los Angeles Evening Herald at the time. Photo is from November of 1929.
A service station and parking garage on Hollywood and Vine, circa 1930. (LAPL)
A view from the Hollywood Hills in 1930.
A postcard view, circa 1932.
RKO studio entrance in 1934. The address reads 780 Gower Street.
Photo was supposedly taken on October 20, 1934. Its caption reads, “Burro ‘resists arrest’ as prowler ‘suspect.’ Officers strain to haul animal into Hollywood Station for ‘booking.’” (LAPL 00094516)
Vine Street near Selma, heading toward Hollywood Blvd., circa 1937. (LAPL)
Highland Avenue heading south after Franklin, circa 1938. (LAPL 00104363)
Hollywood Fashion Dolls — 1939 Saalfield Book.
Hollywood and Vine, circa 1940.
Greetings, c. 1942.
Approaching Franklin while traveling north on Highland Ave. in 1944. (LAPL 00104368)
Interior of Larry Potter’s Jade Dragon Lounge, once located at 6619 Hollywood Boulevard.
A Sunset Boulevard cafe, circa 1940s. I’m not clear as to what the name of the cafe really is. In the 1950s, there was a Sunset Liquor store at 3728 Sunset Blvd. and a Sunset Cafe at 2135 Sunset Blvd. I’m thinking that this joint was at a different locale, possibly closer to Hollywood/West Hollywood.
Les Brown and his Orchestra at the Hollywood Palladium (6215 Sunset Blvd.), c. 1940s. He played there on-and-off from 1944 to 1948.
I’m guessing that this is Carpenter’s Drive-in, circa 1947, once located on the corner of Sunset and Vine.
A couple on the corner of Hollywood and Vine, circa 1948.
Construction along Hollywood Boulevard in the 1940s. The Pig ‘N Whistle Candy & Bakery had a store at 6301 Hollywood Boulevard (corner of Hollywood and Vine). The address is now a parking lot.
Circa late 1940s.
Sunset and Vine, circa 1950. (LAPL)
Hollywood Blvd at Night from the Hills. Photographer: Bob Plunkett. 1950s.
According to the Los Angeles Times on March 13, 1951: “The biggest single traffic jam in the city’s history stalled an estimated 25,000 automobiles along the length of Cahuenga Freeway, inbound from San Fernando Valley to Hollywood, yesterday morning.
“The cause of it all was a four-family apartment house, which house movers got stuck squarely in the middle of Cahuenga Blvd., at the intersection of Whitley Terrace, a few hundred feet on the Hollywood side of the freeway underpass at the Highland Avenue juncture.”
The 110-ton building began its move during the night to avoid traffic jams, but it had gotten stuck around 5 AM and remained stuck until after 10 AM. (LAPL 00068658)
Facing east on Hollywood Boulevard at Cosmo Street, circa 1952, before the “Walk of Fame.”
Cruising over a Hollywood Blvd. bridge near Bronson in 1952. The Hollywood Freeway (101) was still under construction at the time. (LAPL)
Construction of the 101 in 1953. You can see the Castle Argyle and the Hollywood Tower among the buildings. Source: Life Magazine
Taken in the early 1950s, these businesses were on Vine Street north of Sunset. Coffee Dan’s address was 1511 N. Vine Street while Alexander Stationers’ address was 1519 N. Vine. (eBay)
On February 2, 1954, the Hollywood Ranch Market on Vine Street drops its coffee price from ten cents a cup to five in an act of rebellion over skyrocketing prices. What made them angry enough to slash their prices in half? A pound of coffee had finally crossed over the $1 mark.
It was coffee crisis time across America. On February 7, 1954, the Los Angeles Times wrote about it in their article “Still Higher Coffee Price Predicted.”
According to the L.A. Times:
“Coffee companies…indicated a pound should make 40, 45 or 50 cups of six-ounce size…If 50 cups are taken as an average, the coffee itself costs a restaurant about 2 cents a cup today…
“The rise of approximately 20 cents a pound since Jan. 1 means it is costing the restaurant operator half-cent a cup more to make a cup of coffee, if he makes 40 cups a pound, or two-fifths of a cent if he makes 50 cups a pound.
“If he charges 10 cents a cup and makes 40 cups a pound, he receives $4 for each pound of coffee he brews, not including cream, sugar, service and overhead. If he makes 50 cups a pound, he receives $5 for each pound brewed.”
The coffee drinkers in the photo, left to right, are jazz musician Richard Wilson; night manager Roy McCully; owner Larry Frederick; writer Roger Fair; and newsboy Eddie Levin. (LAPL 00044080)
Vine Street looking north from Sunset Blvd. in 1955.
The Capitol Records Building, located at 1750 Vine Street, in 1958. The photo was taken about two years after it was completed. (Associated Press)
Here’s a good shot of the First Federal building that replaced the Hollywood Hotel before eventually being torn down to make way for Hollywood Highland.
The World of Suzie Wong opened on November 10, 1960, and I’m guessing this photo was taken before Thanksgiving. (California State Library)
Hollywood Blvd. approaching Vine St. in 1964.
At the intersection of Hollywood and Vine.
In front of the (lost) Garden Court Apartments/Motor Hotel, once located at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.
The Barker Bros. Hollywood Building (center right) is still around. Today, it’s the El Capitan Theatre. Far right is the Hotel Roosevelt (partially visible).
Workers preparing for the world premiere of Mary Poppins, which was held at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in August of 1964.
Here is an astounding edit of color/black and white footage of the star-studded premiere. It’s a must-see:
The Hollywood Freeway (U.S. Route 101) near Barham Exit, c. 1964.
The Cinne Arts Theatre, formerly at 5651 Hollywood Boulevard, in 1975. (Photographer: Myron Dubee/ LAPL 00050068).
Benny’s restaurant, Twilight Magazines and Movie Arcade, and Mel’s Salon of Beauty in Hollywood, circa 1977.
According to old directories, Benny’s address was 1639 Wilcox in the 1960s. As for Twilight, it was one of 78 sex shops located in Hollywood in the 1970s. (Mike Mullen / LAPL 00074251)
Prostitutes on Hollywood Boulevard, circa 1977.
A group of approximately fifteen people (mostly women) protesting LAPD arrests of prostitutes along Hollywood Boulevard in 1977. (Photographer: Mike Sergieff / LAPL: 00049738).
The Hollywood Sign in August of 1978.
Photographer: Ken Papaleo/LAPL 00041558
A newly restored Hollywood sign is barely visible on a smoggy day in 1979. The photo was taken above Lake Hollywood in the Cahuenga Pass. (Photographer: Chris Gulker / LAPL 00105384)
Frank Verroca, a struggling actor, picketing on top of the Hollywood sign in 1980 during a Screen Actors Guild strike. (Photographer: Mike Mullen / LAPL 00105385)