Thousands of people visit Hollywood every year, either for a tour to get a feel for the best things in life or to pursue a career in the world’s largest movie and entertainment industry. From its acclaimed Walk of Fame to being home to the world’s largest film and television industry firms, Hollywood attracts thousands of visitors each year.
The term has inspired several other countries, like Nigeria and India, to name their film industries Nollywood and Bollywood, respectively. But how did this name and location come to be in the first place?
Following the Great Migration, which saw thousands of free blacks migrate from the south to the north in search of a better life, black people began to populate towns that were predominantly white. Despite the fact that some whites disliked it, they had little choice but to live among the blacks or relocate if they could afford it. Los Angeles was no different.
California’s numerous towns and cities, including Los Angeles, were typically not racist places, and white immigrants moved in with their enslaved Africans to work for them during the late 1800s Gold Rush Era. The Great Migration significantly expanded the number of blacks in Los Angeles, and by 1900, the city had over 2000 black residents, making it the state’s second-largest black population.
With its superb Mediterranean-like weather, the black community had doubled to over 4,000 people by the 1920s, which did not sit well with certain elites. As a result, a ‘sacred country’ for whites was established.
In 1923, a group of wealthy landowners banded together to purchase acreage far enough from Los Angeles yet close enough for easy commuting, giving birth to the concept of Hollywoodland. The town was designed to be a segregated community; however, discrimination against blacks was not explicitly stated, but was reflected in the cost of the land and housing project.
H.J. Whitley, an American real estate developer, came up with the idea for the Hollywood community after using the renowned Hollywood sign to promote his Whitley Heights buildings. The sign, originally cost $21,000 and now costs over $300,000, was lit with 4,021 light bulbs and stood 30 feet (9.1 m) wide and 50 feet (15.2 m) high right below Mount Lee.
The sign was lit up at night to attract people and potential buyers to the new settlement, which was supposed to be free of any type of inconvenience. The sign was only supposed to remain on exhibit for a year and a half, but it lingered up for over ten years after Hollywoodland had passed away.
The city grew in importance throughout the Great Depression, but the sign stayed, after becoming home to some of the biggest stars in the film and entertainment industry between 1923 and 1929.
The sign was renovated in the 1970s when the ‘Land’ symbol was removed and 9 celebrities such as Warner Bros., Alice Cooper, and Hugh Hefner each gave $27,700 for a letter, making it the symbol of American entertainment culture and later the industry.
The idea of constructing a segregated safe haven for white individuals who could afford it has been omitted out of numerous documents, despite the fact that this landmark has been widely written about.
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