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.
The Sackett Hotel and Emporium (built in 1888) was the first hotel built in Hollywood and was located on the SW corner of Cahuenga and Prospect Ave, later renamed Hollywood Boulevard.
It was the tallest building in the area, featuring a general store, vegetable gardens on neighboring lots, and an ice cream parlor. Upstairs, the hotel featured 18 rooms with one shared bath. The cost to stay there amounted to $5 a week.
The hotel became a popular place for the area bachelors to meet and it eventually became the site of Hollywood’s very first post office. Following the completion of the Hotel Hollywood in 1902, the Sackett’s business declined and by 1906, the hotel closed for good.
The art deco Creque Building was built on the Sackett Hotel site.
Santa Monica Blvd. looking east from Beechwood Drive, c. 1888.
An ad from 1889.
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)
Hollywood High School on Sunset Blvd., circa 1905. (USC Digital Archive)
The Hollywood Bowl Road, c. 1920s.
The Hollywood Flower Pot in 1920. One source said that the shop was once located at 1124 N. Vine Street while another source said it was located at 1100 N. Vine, which would have been the corner of Vine St. and Santa Monica Blvd. (LAPL 00042105)
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; the 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 is 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 the 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 in ownership.
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 to 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.
The photo is circa 1922. (LAPL)
When silent film star Evelyn Brent first arrived in Los Angeles in 1922, she stayed at the Hollywood Hotel. A short time later, she and her new husband Bernie P. Fineman moved to the Hillview Apartments at 6531 Hollywood Blvd (now 6533).
The apartment building was built in 1917 by Jesse Lasky and Samuel Goldwyn for the specific purpose of providing luxury accommodations for film players. It had a spacious lobby, elevators, garbage incinerators, and a rehearsal space in the basement. It was even said to have had a speakeasy, located either on the ground floor or the basement.
One unusual story occurred in 1923, while Brent was filming Held to Answer. Apparently, she had a nervous breakdown brought on from exhaustion. Because her work on the film had not been completed, Brent offered to return to the studio to finish production but her physician, Dr. Leo Schulman, confined her to bed. So what do you suppose happened next? Director Harold Shaw took a film crew to the Hillview Apartments and shot her remaining scenes in her bedroom.
Sadly, Held to Answer is a lost film.
Source: Evelyn Brent by Lynn Kear with James King.
Out front of the Hillview Apartments in 1924.
Somewhere in the foothills, c. 1924 (probably near the Wattles Mansion).
Early homes in the Hollywoodland housing development, circa 1925.
More Hollywood houses.
Up ahead and to the right appears to be the Villa Carlotta, located at 5959 Franklin Ave., which was built in 1926. Photo: Water and Power Associates.
An FBO silent comedy short utilizing the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Blvd. as a location. 1926.
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)
Hollywood Brown Derby Restaurant located at 1620-28 N. Vine St. Architect: Carl Jules Weyl, 1928.
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)
When Night-Time Comes
by Margaret E. Sangster
When night-time comes to Hollywood,
I think the lady moon looks down,
With kindliness and sympathy,
Upon the silent, resting town.
She, gently swaying in the sky,
Bathes with a healing, silver fire,
The tired city that has wept,
And laughed, and worked, and known desire!
And all the faiths that have been lost,
And all the plans that went awry,
Are giving back to dreaming hearts,
Her benediction from the sky.
For, as the wistful breezes sing,
And as the clouds about her creep,
The lady moon is keeping guard
Above the earth-bound stars who sleep…
The art dec0 Pilgrimage Play Theatre.
The original Pilgrimage Play Theatre interior, circa 1929, before and after it burned down. It was rebuilt in 1931. The site is now the John Amandson Ford Theatre at 2580 Cahuenga Blvd E, Los Angeles, CA 90068. (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. The 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.
The Pig Stand, a brand new drive-in restaurant in 1930. Originally, it was located on the southeast corner of Sunset and Vine. However, according to the 1932 City Directory, it was no longer there. Instead, the directory listed additional Pig Stands in other locations around Los Angeles, including Los Feliz Blvd, La Brea, Pico, Vermont, and Sunset, etc.
The Hillview Apartments in 1930.
The Garden Court Apartments, once located at 7021 Hollywood Blvd., circa 1931. The building was built in 1917 and was the home to many showbiz personalities. By the 1960s-1970s, it was a fleabag residential hotel, earning the nickname “Hotel Hell.”
Now, here is the sickening part: The hotel was given landmark status in April of 1981 in an attempt to save it from demolition. The owner, however, vowed to tear down the hotel in 1982, so he did everything he could to ruin the building even further than it already was — and that is saying something. The city council eventually revoked its landmark status and in 1984, it was torn down. (Photo: California State Library
Here is the Out-of-Door Bowling Alleys, once located on the corner of Ivar and Sunset. In 1931, it was advertised as the first silent, outdoor bowling alley in the United States.
Its proprietors were Arthur Weirich, C.W. Plenksharp, J.N. Combs and A.S. Scuck.
Here’s what the Los Angeles Times had to say about their business:
“The [six] alleys are the regulation length of sixty-three feet from foul line to king-pin and the balls weigh from ten to sixteen pounds with a circumference of twenty-seven inches. The pins also are of regulation size.
“The difference between the regulation game and the new one is the absence of the sound of crashing pins and rolling balls. The pins are built on an aluminum base and are covered with a soundless composition. The balls are coated with rubber. The alleys are laid on reinforced concrete covered with a coating of patent alloy of great hardness.”
The Etude Ethiopian Chorus was part of Franchon and Marco’s “Symphony in Black” prologue at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in 1931.
A postcard view, circa 1932.
A poster for King Kong (1933) at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. With Fay Wray.
Buster Crabbe bicycling near the corner of Hollywood and Vine in 1933. To the left of Crabbe is the Equitable Building located at 6253 Hollywood Blvd. In the background, the Pantages Theater marquee is visible–barely.
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)
The Hollywood Hotel at the corner of Hollywood and Highland.
Long before a variety of costumed characters began strolling around Hollywood Boulevard looking for a photo op, there was Jack “FDR” Young in 1938, seen here on Hollywood Boulevard.
Highland Avenue heading south after Franklin, circa 1938. (LAPL 00104363)
Christmas time in 1938.
Vine Street at night, facing north from Sunset Boulevard. Notice the Brown Derby neon sign in the distance?
Final touches are being made to the “Muse of Music” sculpture at the entrance to the Bowl. Photo date: July 19, 1939.
Hollywood Fashion Dolls — 1939 Saalfield Book.
Hollywood and Vine, circa 1940.
Hollywood Bowl sign. Photographed on July 10, 1940. Photographer: Otto Rothschild (LAPL 00056080)
Marlene Dietrich, Noel Coward, and Cary Grant attending an evening of live playlets at the El Capitan Theatre (6838 Hollywood Boulevard) in 1940. The special event, entitled “Tonight at 8:30” was a fundraiser for the British Red Cross. (LAPL 00057121)
In 1942, the El Capitan (6838 Hollywood Blvd.) was remodeled and it opened as the Hollywood Paramount Theatre.
Greetings, c. 1942.
Pink’s in 1942, its third year in business. Address: 709 N. La Brea Avenue.
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 the 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. the 1940s. He played there on-and-off from 1944 to 1948.
An overcrowded Pacific Electric Red Car on Hollywood Blvd. in 1946. (LAPL)
I’m guessing that this is Carpenter’s Drive-in, circa 1947, once located on the corner of Sunset and Vine.
Radio star Jane Webb poses on the damaged “H” of the Hollywoodland sign in April 1947, shortly after the sign’s caretaker, Albert Kothe, accidentally wrecked it in a drunk driving accident. Apparently, Kothe (who survived the crash) had driven his car off a cliff above the H. This incident eventually led to the decision by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the City of Los Angeles Parks Department to repair the sign, removing the word “land” from it. (LAPL 00041562) Bizarre Los Angeles
A couple on the corner of Hollywood and Vine, circa 1948.
Hollywood and Vine, 1948. (LAPL 00104370)
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.
Miss Beverly Hills of Hollywood (1949)
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.”
Glamorama Studios, Hollywood California postcard. It reads “Just trying to BUST into pictures.” It was probably produced and sold in the late 1940s to mid-1950s.
Dance instructors showing how it’s done at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in 1952. (USC Archive)
“I still don’t understand why Bwana Devil doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. In many ways, that film turned the whole thing around; it was a catalyst for films today.” — Sidney Pink, Bwana Devil producer, in 1989.
J. R. Eyerman snapped this famous picture at Bwana Devil’s premiere at the Paramount Theater on November 30, 1952. The film was the first American full-length 3D film in color.
The Paramount Theater is better known as the El Capitan. Its address is 6838 Hollywood Boulevard.
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 Hollywood Hotel, formerly located on Hollywood Blvd, between Orchid and Highland. The photo was taken in 1956, a few months before demolition. (LAPL) One of the long time residents, who was upset about the plans to raze the hotel, told reporter Ezra Goodman, “I don’t want to go to heaven. I want to stay here.” (Source: Gregory Paul Williams’ excellent book, The Story of Hollywood: An Illustrated History).
The Capitol Records Building, located at 1750 Vine Street, in 1958. The photo was taken about two years after it was completed. (Associated Press)
Edward Stembridge and gun technician Bob Lane inside the Stembridge gun room at Paramount Studios. The company supplied weapons to movie and TV productions. Photo dated February 5, 1960.
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)
Did you know that the Hollywood Bowl once had a pool of water in front of the stage? It was there to add atmosphere to amphitheater concerts but was drained and eventually removed in the early 1970s to make room for additional box seats. Here is Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1963.
The Cinerama Dome, located at 6360 Sunset Boulevard, under construction in July of 1963. The photo looks northwest.
Photographer: Howard D. Kelly/ Los Angeles Public Library 00104530
Opening night on November 2, 1963. The movie was “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” (LAPL 00028697)
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).
“Once you are a star, you are forever a star.” – Mae Murray in 1964, the year before she died.
Source: Bob Thomas
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.
I’m guessing this photo was taken on Argyle Street, facing east near Sunset Blvd. You can see the Hollywood Palladium and CBS-Columbia Square in the distance. The photo looks to be from the mid-1960s.
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)
A caricature of John Belushi from the movie 1941 on display in 1979. Photographer: Anne Knudsen. (LAPL)
A late night move of the Lasky-DeMille Barn from Paramount Studios to a vacant lot on Vine Street in late October 1979. Bogie’s Liquor store’s address is at 5373 Melrose Avenue. The barn was donated to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s Historic Trust, which envisioned it being a museum devoted to Jess Lasky, Cecil B. DeMille, and Samuel Goldwyn. The building later moved from Vine Street to his current location on Highland Ave., across from the Hollywood Bowl. It’s now called the Hollywood Heritage Museum. (LAPL)
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)
The Ivar Theatre (1605 Ivar Ave.) in 1981. The find out more about the building, click here!
Painting the Hollywood Sign in 1985. (LAPL)