How Hollywood Got To Be Named Hollywood

hollywood sign

A real estate developer from Toronto named Hobart Johnstone Whitley is claimed to be the original namer of Hollywood. He and his second wife, Gigi Ross, supposedly came up with the name while on their honeymoon in California.

Another story claims that a man named Harvey Wilcox from Kansas purchased property in California for the development of homes. His wife Daeida met a woman on a train who mentioned that she had named her Ohio summer home as Hollywood. Daeida liked the name so much that she applied it to these new subdivisions.

The famous hillside sign spelling out “HOLLYWOODLAND” on Mount Lee in Griffith Park was built in 1923 for the purpose of advertising the housing development with that name. It was covered with 4000 lightbulbs and was never intended to last for more than one or two years.

Over time, the sign sustained much damage and deteriorated badly. In 1949, the City of Los Angeles Parks Department took over the responsibility of repairing and rebuilding the sign. “LAND” was removed from the sign, as were the light bulbs.

In 1978, the entire sign was replaced with letters made of steel. Nine donors each gave over $27,000 to fund the $250,000 restoration project to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Hollywood.

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