30 July 2010
with kind permission of AirPano
2010 is an anniversary year for Hollywood. Exactly one hundred years ago an American film director David Wark Griffith shot there the film In Old California which became the first Hollywood movie. But the history of the place itself had begun much earlier. The first Spanish conquerors appeared on the West Cost exactly in this region. They banished the Indians from their land and settled ranchos on that territory. Then near the ranchos a whole village grew. It was called in the honor of the local flora Wood and Holly, a kind of bush with sharp leaves, and it covers the hills. Movie came there represented by N. Zeling who in the beginning of the XX century purchased the part of the land for his Chicago film company's branch.
And off it went. The film companies became more and more, first, thanks to the immigrants who flooded the USA. So, the Hungarian Adolph Zukor, who began his carrier as an apprentice of furrier, founded Paramount. The German Carl Laemmle, who sold clothes, created Universal. Brothers Warner, who advertized bicycles in their native Poland, founded Warner Bros. And Luis B. Mayer from Minsk, who earned a livelihood by reselling of scrap metal, became the head of Metro-Goldwin-Mayer.
From that moment Hollywood as a rancho stopped to exist and stayed in the past. Banks, restaurants, clubs and many other places which a developing film industry is interested in appeared there. Hollywood was spoken about all over the world. Everyone wanted to go along its streets and to take part in the shooting process; and the most desirable wish of any lady was to become a new star. In its turn, Hollywood had not been able to keep its independence for a long time, because the lack of water made it became a part of Los Angeles.
A famous sign HOLLYWOOD with its huge letters appeared in 1923 on the South slope of Mount Lee at a height of 491 meters with an advertising purpose exclusively. It was the way to announce publicly about itself of the Hollywoodland Construction Company. It was planned that the sign would be there for about 1.5 years, however, owing to the developing of the American Dream Factory and its fame it was decided to leave it.
The inscription was associated with a movie industry so much that in September of 1932 actress Peg Entwistle committed a suicide: she jumped down from the letter "H" as a sign of protest against Hollywood which had repudiated her.
When the inscription was constructed nobody planned its long life that is why the letters made of wood and metallic plates were losing their good state. During another restoration in 1949 it was decided to take off the part of the word «LAND». But in spite of the restoration works the sign's state continued worsening. Finally, the first letter «O» tumbled down and became similar to the capital letter «u» and the third letter «O» was completely destroyed and the sign became «HuLLYWO D».
In 1978 the destroying sign was completely changed. The present letters have the following size: 14 m height and 9-12 m width. This size is little less than in the original version.
Now the inscription on the hill is guarded by the law and it's forbidden to make unauthorized changes. However, there were cases when it happened. So, in January of 1976 the sign became in the state of «HOLLYWEED» as a protest of the public against new Californian law about marihuana. In May of 1987 the students of Californian Technological University changed the sign for «CALTECH» with covering the part of its letters. And in 1993 before the American Football match between Californian University in Los Angeles and South Californian University the sign was changed for «GO UCLA».
In 2000 Los Angeles Police Department installed a security system equipped with movement detectors and video surveillance devices. Now if somebody approaches to the sign less than 50 yards (45.72 meters), the alarm system is on and police comes.
It's curious, but now Hollywood is one of the poorest districts of Los Angeles. Its inhabitants earn in average 20-30% less than those who live in other districts. Besides, the record number of unhappy people live there and it's quite simple to be explained, because hundreds and thousands of sufferers come there in a rush for fame, but only select few can achieve it.
Although at present time Hollywood is formally the heart of American movie industry (now there is only one large movie studio - Paramount, when Warner Bros., Universal and other companies moved long time ago), however, this district is more than just a "land" or a geographical point. The word itself became a common noun and it is one of the symbols of American Dream as well as a peculiar standard for the film creators all over the world.