Hollywood is a neighborhood located in Los Angeles that’s synonymous with the glamour, money and power of the entertainment industry. As the show-business capital of the world, Hollywood is home to many famous television and movie studios and record companies. Yet despite its glitzy status, Hollywood has humble roots: it began as a small agricultural community and evolved into a diverse, thriving metropolis where stars are born and dreams come true—for a lucky few. For the even luckier folk who live in the Hollywood Hills, away from all the hustle and bustle of Hollywood, you’ll experience what living amongst the celebrities is like in secluded splendor. Welcome to Hollywood, what’s your dream?
In 1853, a small adobe hut was all that existed where Hollywood stands today. But over the next two decades, the area became a thriving agricultural community called Cahuenga Valley. In 1886 when banker and real estate mogul H. J. Whitley, also known as the "Father of Hollywood", was on his honeymoon, he stood at the top of the hill looking out over the valley. Along came a Chinese man in a wagon carrying wood. The Chinese man was asked what he was doing and replied, "I holly-wood," meaning 'hauling wood.' H. J. Whitley had an epiphany and decided to name his new town Hollywood. "Holly" would represent England and "wood" would represent his Scottish heritage.
Whitley opened the Hollywood Hotel—now the site of the Dolby theater, which hosts the annual Oscars ceremony—and developed Ocean View Tract, an upscale residential neighborhood. He also helped finance the building of a bank and was integral to bringing electricity to the area. Hollywood incorporated in 1903 and merged with Los Angeles in 1910. At that time, Prospect Avenue became the now-famous Hollywood Boulevard.
Dine, Hang Out, Shop & Stuff
Walk of Fame
The famous Hollywood Walk of Fame runs along Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. Here, Hollywood's most recognized faces and names are represented by bronze-rimmed stars dedicated and laid in the sidewalk. Honorees include prominent actors, musicians, directors, personalities, and other important people from the areas of motion picture, TV, radio, recording, and live theater/performance. Stars are still being added, and new nominees are announced each June. Today, there are about 2,500 stars on the sidewalks, with a small number added each year.
There’s no night like a Hollywood night and Hollywood Blvd is the place to come. Hollywood Boulevard has been compared with New York's Broadway because of its entertainment and nightlife. However, instead of theaters, Hollywood has extravagant cinemas, such as the Chinese and Egyptian Theaters, built originally by Sid Grauman in the twenties. Catch a show at The Pantages and then visit one of many top-rated restaurants in the area. Hollywood Boulevard is probably most famous for the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Kodak Theatre, which is the home of the Academy Awards, where the Oscars are awarded each year. This street is mostly about the night scene, when these famous places are lit up, and throngs of people come down here to walk around.
Hotels (to stay or hang out)
Hotels in Hollywood aren’t just places to stay; they’re destinations for locals and tourists alike. The Roosevelt is a 1927 landmark and a beautiful example of Spanish colonial design that still welcomes the A-listers who frequented it during Hollywood's heyday. The hotel is at its most dramatic at the discreet Library Bar, The Spare Room (an intimate bar and bowling alley) and around the buzzing pool. Make sure to stop for a meal at the Public Kitchen and Bar and burger joint 25 Degrees. Then the W Hotel, right next to the Metro station, is a glitzy hotel that rolls out the red carpet (literally) with its rooftop pool and lounge, grand spiral staircase, Bliss spa and famous Sunday night jazz in the Living Room lounge. Lastly, Mama Shelter, is a high-design boutique hotel with stunning rooftop views of the city. You can check them out any time you like, but you’ll never want to leave.
Hollywood Bowl - 2301 N. Highland Ave
This gorgeous outdoor amphitheater has been hosting concerts since the LA Philharmonic first played here in 1922. Nestled in an aesthetically blessed fold in the Hollywood Hills, the 18,000-seat venue can bring out the romantic in the chronically cynical. It’s the summer home of the LA Phil (and boozy picnics); as long as there’s no performance, it also doubles as a public park.
Musso and Frank - 6667 Hollywood Blvd.
In operation since 1919, this New York-style restaurant is a true institution in Los Angeles. Still a family business to this day, the restaurant has kept its original character, including including the classic red booths and the wait staff wears the outfits that they’ve worn for decades. Because of its classic style, the restaurant has been featured in many films include Ed Wood, Oceans Eleven and The Day of the Locust.
Farmers Market - Ivar and Selma Avenues (between Hollywood and Sunset)
A tradition and mainstay for almost 30 years, the Hollywood Farmers’ Market is the largest Farmers’ Market in Los Angeles, boasting the largest selection of organic fruit, organic vegetables, local produce, seasonal produce and more. It’s true “Farm to Table” excellence. I recommend parking a couple blocks away on Yucca at a meter. Alternatively, validated parking is offered for $3 in the Arclight parking lot around the corner.
Grauman’s Egyptian Theater - 6706 Hollywood Blvd
Opened in 1922 as an exotic movie palace and kicked off the first-ever Hollywood Film premiere. Since 1998, it has been owned and operated by the American Cinematheque film archive and Netflix is in the process of buying the theater to host events. The Cinematheque will still use the theater on weekends. While the interior was rebuilt in the 1990s as two modern cinemas, using some of the decorative elements of the original theater, the exterior was completely restored to its original 1922 appearance.
TCL Chinese Theatre - 6925 Hollywood Blvd
Commonly known as Grauman's Chinese Theatre, this movie palace was built in 1926 on the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame. After the success of the Egyption across the street, Grauman opened a second decided to open another built in an Exotic Revival style of architecture. Over the decades, the theatre has been the site of countless premieres, three Academy Awards ceremonies, and various other events. One of the most famous elements of the theatre are the many concrete sidewalk blocks out front bearing the signatures, footprints, and handprints of stars from the 1920s to the present day. In 2013, the Chinese Theatre partnered with IMAX Corporation to convert the house into a custom-designed IMAX theater seating 932 people and one of the largest screens in the country.
Good Times at Davey Wayne’s - 1611 N. El Centro Ave
Good Times at Davey Wayne’s takes us back to the 1970s via garage. Walk past the knick-knacks to find the portal to this booze-fueled time machine: an old refrigerator. Step through its door and you’re instantly transported to a house party in the era of hard rock, sideburns and shag carpeting. Outside, sno-cones, tiki drinks and tacos get doled out from a repurposed trailer and food stand in the “backyard,” where you'll find seating and the occasional rooftop roller show.
Jumbo’s Clown Room - 5153 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood’s notorious pole dancing club is small laid-back dive has dancers of all body types shaking it onstage to music past and present. It’s not a “strip club” per se; pierced, inked and totally rock ’n’ roll, these chicks don’t get naked, but perform some serious acrobatics onstage in their underwear.
Sassafras - 1233 N. Vine St
Though in the middle of Hollywood, once inside, it’s easy to imagine Tennessee Williams as a regular here. Walk past what looks like a patio on the Bayou to the long bar framed by family heirlooms, and dangling bottles of barrel-aged cocktails in constant rotation. Behind the bar sits a Savannah townhouse—an actual building that was dismantled in Georgia and reconstructed down to the moldings and fireplace.
No Vacancy - 1727 N. Hudson Ave
Located in a restored Victorian house built in 1902, and originally a schoolhouse where Chaplin’s kids attended, No Vacancy’s Prohibition era-inspired ambiance (with a secret entrance) and rotating, 12-item cocktail menu mimic its 20th century-born home. The three-story bar hosts cocktail connoisseurs in its various, dimly lit rooms, which are decorated with red leather and dark wood accents. At the bottom of a red carpeted staircase, a brick-walled courtyard is home to baroque fireplaces that set the tone for the live entertainment -- jazz music, burlesque shows, and tightrope walkers alike.
Capitol Records Building - 1750 Vine St. Louis Naidorf of Welton Beckett and Associates 1956
A city landmark, the thirteen-story Mid-Century Modern tower houses the Capitol Studios, a recording facility, which includes eight echo chambers engineered by guitarist Les Paul and three main studios, A, B, and C. The curved awnings over windows on each story and the tall spike extending upward from the roof of the building resembles a stack of records on a turntable with the spindle pointing skyward. The blinking light atop the tower spells out the word "Hollywood" in Morse Code.
Cinerama Dome - 6360 Sunset Blvd Pierre Cabrol of Welton Beckett Associates 1963
Built in1963, the Cinerama brought a radically new design to movie-going audiences. Fittingly, the first movie to be played here was It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. The Cinerama Dome was declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1998. With its 86 feet wide screen, advanced acoustics and 70mm film capability, the Cinerama Dome is a favorite for film premieres and "event" showings.
Crossroads of the World - 6671 Sunset Blvd. Robert V. Derrah 1936
Called America’s first outdoor shopping mall, Crossroads of the World features a central building designed in the Streamline Moderne style and intended to resemble an ocean liner, surrounded by a small village of cottage-style bungalows. It was designed by Robert V. Derrah and built in 1936. Today most of the spaces now host private offices, primarily for the entertainment industry and it was named a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1974.
The Hollywood Tower - 6200 Franklin Ave. Cramer & Wise 1929
Designed in French-Normandy style the building was originally named “LaBelle Tour.” The name was changed to Hollywood Tower in the 1950s, and was one of the few buildings have survived by the construction of the 101 Freeway. In 1988 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 2010 an extensive renovation produced a beautiful art deco lobby and garden rooftop decks with views of the Hollywood sign and downtown.
Bollman Residence - 1530 N. Ogden Dr. Lloyd Wright 1922
An early example of Lloyd Wright’s “knit-block” method of construction, which his father Frank went on to employ in several other homes around Los Angeles. The home remains in great condition and is totally viewable from the sidewalk in front of the house.
Erlik Residence - 1757 N. Curson R.M. Schindler 1952
This single-floored home is one of Schindler’s last projects and fortunately it’s still in great condition and is mostly viewable from the street.
Wattles Mansion and Garden - 1824 N. Curson Ave Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey 1909
Built by banker Gurdon Wattles as a winter home, this property is now administered by the City of Los Angeles. The front gardens are open to the public. The house and rear gardens are available for events. The setting with it’s beautiful grounds and views of the city is a popular location for wedding receptions. The ‘Jualita’ estate, as it was originally known, has been recognized as "the only remaining intact example of the once plentiful Hollywood estates from the period preceding the film industry, when Hollywood was primarily agricultural and was a wintering home for wealthy Easterners and Midwesterners."
Emerson College - 5960 Sunset Blvd Thom Mayne of Morphosis 2014
A 10-story futuristic complex of aluminum and glass by the Pritzker prize-winning architect is built with sustainable design and community responsibility in mind. The towers facing East and West feature an active exterior skin, which responds to local weather conditions and an the automated sunshade system opens and closes horizontal fins outside the high-performance glass curtain-wall to minimize heat gain while maximizing daylight and views.