​Almanac: The birth of Hollywood

And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: February 1, 1887, 128 years ago today . . . the perfect day for a genuine Hollywood premiere.

For that was the day landowner Harvey Henderson Wilcox handed Los Angeles County officials a map of his proposed new real estate project . . . a place he called "Hollywood."

hollywood-map-620.jpg
Natural History Museum, Los Angeles County

By the early 1900s, Hollywood was being annexed by the nearby City of Los Angeles.

And, with its mild climate and pleasant scenery, Hollywood quickly became the new home of silent moviemaking.

Not to mention the home of a promotional sign for a 1920s real estate development called "Hollywoodland."

The sign eventually was shortened to read simply "Hollywood."

With time, Hollywood came to refer to the movie industry as a whole.

And, feeding on itself, Hollywood sometimes depicted Hollywood in a less-than-flattering light -- as in the 1950 film "Sunset Boulevard," with Gloria Swanson playing an embittered and delusional former silent star:

Joe Gillis: "You're Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big."
Norma Desmond: "I AM big. It's the pictures that got small.

Despite the occasional put-down, Hollywood the industry is STILL big, with its films earning just over $10 billion here in the United States last year . . . though some in the business fret that revenue is down roughly five percent from 2013.

As for Hollywood, the PLACE, it remains a major tourist attraction, featuring (among other things) the Walk of Fame along Hollywood Boulevard -- the street Harvey Wilcox originally called Prospect Avenue all those years ago.


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