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Hollywood At A Glance

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Hollywood, California went from a thriving agricultural community in the late 1800s to the motion picture empire of today. Not its own municipality, Hollywood is a world-renowned neighborhood of Los Angeles. See what makes Hollywood tick.

Brief History

Called Nopalera in the 1800s after the nopal cactus that naturally grows there, by 1870 the area was a thriving agricultural community for citrus fruit, wine grapes and barley. Developer H. J. Whitley purchased a 500-acre ranch, subdivided it and sold some parcels, developed and sold others. The area became Hollywood. In 1903 residents narrowly voted to become its own municipality, but reversed that in 1910 by voting (again with a small majority voting "yes) to be annexed into Los Angeles, mostly to improve sewer and water issues. Residents attempted to break off from Los Angeles in 2002, but did not get enough votes to do so.

By the early 1900s, all the big motion-picture companies had set up shop in Hollywood. The New Jersey-based Nestor Company was the first to arrive and the first to make a movie in Hollywood. RKO, Paramount, Columbia and Warner Brothers soon followed. Ironically, though, Hollywood had once banned all movie theaters. Once annexed with Los Angeles, who had no such ban, that changed. Other entertainment companies eventually made Hollywood their home, too. Not to be outdone, television station KTLA began broadcasting from Hollywood in 1947 and others soon made their appearance, but have since moved elsewhere. Capitol Records built their notable circular tower in 1956, representing the music industry, and still calls Hollywood home. Other businesses evolved to support the entertainment industry. Hollywood today is a destination point for national and international tourists.


What was once an agricultural area turned into a shiny entertainment gold field. The entertainment industry employs roughly one-quarter of the population of Hollywood. Hospitals, hotels, retail and commercial businesses fill in the gap. The top five employers are hospitals and movie/TV studios:

  1. Kaiser Permanente Medical Center
  2. Children's Hospital
  3. Paramount Pictures
  4. Universal Studios, Inc.
  5. Sunset Grower/Sunset Bronson Studio


Hollywood residents total 86,000, making it a densely populated neighborhood. With a medium age of 31, this is a young, hip place to live. A high percentage of the population is single, a result of the young age of many residents. A result of its history with and proximity to Mexico, nearly half of the residents are of Mexican/South American descent. Non-Hispanic Whites, Asians, African Americans and many other nationalities round out the demographic mix that makes Hollywood so diverse.


Hollywood is famous for the "Hollywood" sign atop the famed Hollywood Hills section of the area, as well as the Hollywood Walk of Fame at The Chinese Theater. Other places of note include Capitol Records, with its historic circular structure, Hollywood Bowl and Madame Tussauds, where incredible likenesses of celebrities made from wax are showcased.


Home to glitz and glamor, Hollywood hosts the Academy Awards ceremonies each February or March honoring the best in movie making. The Hollywood Half Marathon is the newest event, began in 2012 to benefit local youth homeless shelters.

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About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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