on July 22, 2008
The SignTaking a look at the most famous sign in the world seemed to be a proper way of ending this visit to LA. I was moving around the city with a daily pass to the excellent Metrolink system, which includes subways and buses. The Red subway featured four stations with the name Hollywood in them and one called Universal City. No map I had positioned the Hollywood Sign, so I casually chose the Hollywood Vine Station as my first stop in the area. Once there I entered the first shopping mall I saw - it was next to the station - and immediately spotted the sign from the mall's backside.Disappointed from the effortless way the task had been accomplished, I asked five passersby what was the best spot for appreciating the wonder. I chose people that looked as busy denizens in their way from or to their work. Despite their friendliness, none of them could even tell me where the sign was. Obviously, there are no prophets in their own land, I thought while beginning a more careful exploration of the neighborhood.HollywoodHollywood is an integral part of the City of Los Angeles, located northwest of downtown LA. In the past it was the center of the movies industry, while nowadays is mainly a shopping and cultural district; many theaters crowd the area and the Academy Awards ("Oscars") are given here. Hollywood Walk of Fame is a major attraction of the district. A Short History of FameThe name "Hollywood" appeared first on a 1887 map of the Los Angeles area, back then it was an agricultural area. By 1900 there was a small neighborhood called Cahuenga next to the modern avenue of the same name; it was connected to downtown LA with a single-track streetcar that made the seven miles way in two hours.Hollywood was incorporated as an independent municipality in 1903, the next year it was connected to downtown LA by a new trolley car called "the Hollywood Boulevard." In 1910, the denizens voted for the annexation of Hollywood to LA in order to secure water supply from the Los Angeles Aqueduct and sewer systems. Then, Prospect Avenue's name was changed to Hollywood Boulevard and the basis for modern Hollywood was set.In 1906, the Biograph Company filmed the short film "A Daring Hold-Up" in Los Angeles and in 1909 the first studio in the area was established by the Selig Polyscope Company in Edendale. The New Jersey-based Centaur Co., specializing in westerns opened the first studio in Hollywood in 1911, calling it Nestor Studio. The first feature film made in a Hollywood studio was The Squaw Man, in 1914. A year later, most of American films were being produced in the Los Angeles area.After WWII, Hollywood became a television center as well. In 1947, the first commercial television station west of the Mississippi River, KTLA, began operating in Hollywood, while in the 1950s, music recording studios moved into the area. The Capitol Records building on Vine St. just north of Hollywood Boulevard was built in 1956; its design looks like a stack of vinyl records.In 1958 The Hollywood Walk of Fame was created; the first star was placed in 1960; people received a star based on their achievements in movies, theater, radio, television, and music. In 1985, the Hollywood Boulevard Commercial and Entertainment District was officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Nowadays, most major studios are located elsewhere in the Los Angeles region; Paramount Studios is the only major studio still located in Hollywood.In 2005, Hollywood became the first district of the city to enjoy well defined boundaries and records of the municipal activities are kept there as if it was an independent city.The Star SignsThe Hollywood Walk of Fame is ubiquitous; reading the names is highly entertaining, especially so since they do not follow any specific order. However, I could not understand the desire of the stars to have people walking over their names, not to mention possible accidents involving dogs. The most surprising star I found didn't belong to a human, but to Kermit the Frog. The Silent Sign: EpilogueOpened in 2001 on the historic site of the Hollywood Hotel, the Kodak Theatre, on Hollywood Boulevard at Highland Avenue is the new home of the Oscars. The theater is part of the Hollywood & Highland complex, which was the last stage in the revival of the area and of its re-definition as an entertainment area not longer related to the media industry directly.The theater's back entrance is a recreation of the Babylon Gate from D.W. Griffiths' Intolerance. Griffiths was a freemason - as many in the film industry - and Babylon is a longstanding symbol of a valueless society, so praised by them in the form of "relative values." Hollywood's Sign is clearly seen from the square backside, especially from the bridges connecting the building's higher levels. Moreover, the Kodak Theatre itself features many masonic and solar cults motifs, shared by them and related societies. In an exact replica to its masters and of their wicked reality, Hollywood sold its soul and exists only by selling illusions to the masses.
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