How HOLLYWOOD was created

“Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul. I know, because I turned down the first offer often enough and held out for the fifty cents.”, Marilyn Monroe.

Hollywood was born in 1853. It used to be one little adobe hut on a land outside of Los Angeles. 

In 1887, the real estate tycoon Harvey Henderson Wilcox wanted to sell one farmland he had near Los Angeles, on that land, hoping they will build up houses in there. His wife, Daeida, while on a train during a trip, met a woman who told her about  her country home in Ohio, named for the Dutch settlement, “Hollywood”. 

Owners and creators of the Hollywood land at the time.

Daeida liked the name, and called their ranch “Hollywood” right after she returned. She also thought it would be a nice name for the eventual house development. The first official document with the name Hollywood printed on it was produced on February 1, 1887, by Harvey Wilcox. It was a map of the area.

First map of Hollywood, in 1887.
  • Prospect Avenue was the name of the first street in town, but was later changed to Hollywood Boulevard
  • The first part of the famous Hollywood Hotel was built in 1902. 
  • The city was incorporated in 1903. 
  • In 1904 was installed the first new trolley car system. 
  • Finally it is in 1910 that Hollywood was merged with Los Angeles.

Did you know that before Hollywood existed, New Jersey was the center of the film industry in the USA, with the majority of the studios being over there.

Studios started to come to Hollywood in the early 1900s. Thomas Edison owned most of the patents on motion picture cameras , and so he clearly controlled who could make films in Hollywood at the time.

What about the famous Hollywood sign?

It used to say “Hollywoodland”. It was created in 1923 as an advertisement for the new house development. It was supposed to stay just for 18 months, then they just kept it there. It used to be lit up in 3 different segments, “HOLLY”, “WOOD” and “LAND”, and then as a whole.

Hollywood Sign before 1949.


After the rise of Hollywood films and the American cinema, the sign became an internationally recognized symbol. So they decided to leave it there.

In 1949, it was decided to change from it from “HOLLYWOODLAND” to “HOLLYWOOD”, as a better representation of the city, movies and glamour, and also to stop it from being referring to the specific housing development.

With time, the letters deteriorated, and in 1978, it was decided to replace all of the letters by a more permanent structure. The whole sign was completely destroyed, and there was no sign at all for 3 months! 

Thanks to a fundraiser from Hugh Hefner, creator and owner of “Playboy”’s brand, they were able to rebuild the sign. Each letter of the sign was purchased by a celebrity, and still owned to that day by different personalities. 

Today the Hollywood Sign is not lit up anymore. Sometimes at night you might feel like it is but it is just the reflection of the city lights on it. It remains world wide famous iconic symbol, and representation fo the city. 

View of LA city at night from the Hollywood Sign.

I always get excited when I see the sign, wherever I am and whenever I can spot it! It makes my heart beat, remind me of the glamour of the city, and really make me feel the Hollywood dream.

What about you, does it mean anything to you? And did you know it was named after an Ohio city?

Published by gia2244

Actress. Model. Living in LA.

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