The biggest tourist destination in Los Angeles and famous the world over, Hollywood isn’t just the stars embedded in its sidewalks or the iconic sign overlooking the city. While the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema may be a thing of the past, many studios still have their offices and post-production companies there. Home to countless shopping centers full of stores, not only does it have a reputation for retail, but Hollywood is also artistic and cultural, with both mainstream and experimental art galleries, theaters and record labels dotted around the area.
From Small Town America to Global City of Dreams
Hollywood uniquely represents the intersection of the American dream and the magic of cinema. It’s hard to imagine, but until the late 1800s, it was merely acre upon acre of citrus groves. At the end of the 19th century, the newly wealthy Wilcox family bought up many acres there to build a ranch. Interested in town planning, they traced the town into the earth, marking out what would become Hollywood Boulevard, and had houses, churches, and even a library built. Its transformation into the future city of Hollywood mostly came about some years later, with the arrival of a tramway. The beginning of the 1910s was when Hollywood had its first encounter with cinema. The golden light of the West Coast, the varied landscape and the plentiful, cheap land attracted producers and directors. From Metro Goldwyn Mayer to Warner Bros and Paramount, the biggest studios set up shop there. This shift heralded the Golden Age of Hollywood, an era defined by world-renowned film stars on the black and white screen. Next, in the 1960s, tourism was on the rise and studios started investing in hotels and restaurants. However, the area began to slip somewhat in the 1980s, with studios relocating to the suburbs and the area experiencing increased crime.
Nevertheless, Hollywood had its comeback in the early 2000s, showing the world that the brightest dreams never really die.
Hollywood is indisputably the top spot for parties and a major center for Los Angeles nightlife. A prime example is the legendary Chateau Marmont Hotel, known for its signature cocktails and a long history of attracting stars. The halls still resonate with the ghosts of notorious residents such as John Belushi and Jim Morrison, but now it is frequented by the likes of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, Jennifer Aniston and Charlize Theron.
The iconic Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards teem with restaurants and clubs that have cemented the area’s legendary reputation for nightlife. The Whisky a Go Go was once the favorite haunt of rock fans, who came to hear bands like The Doors light up the stage. More recently, in the late 90s, the Viper Room and its owner Johnny Depp welcomed a steady stream of celebrities.
Now the most popular parties are found on cozy terraces or the impressive rooftops towering above Sunset Strip. These include The Tower Bar, Sunset Marquis or the Mondrian Hotel, where influential industry players organize not-to-be-missed events for aspiring stars.
The Most Desirable Place in the World
It might sound like an exaggeration, but this slogan imprinted on walls around Hollywood has the numbers to prove it. In January 2018, and in the presence of Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board announced that LA had welcomed a record 48.3 million tourists in 2017, with Hollywood being the biggest draw. The Hollywood Walk of Fame, Kodak (now Dolby) Theater and Universal Studios are, along with Santa Monica Pier, on the list of top attractions in the region. The RevPAR metric (revenue per available room) was used to measure the average occupancy of hotel rooms and showed that Hollywood beat Pasadena as the most popular neighborhood for tourists.
Pop-up Stores on the Rise
Only a few steps from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Line Friends opened a pop-up store in July 2018, attracting 15,000 people in just a few days. As the pop culture capital of the world, Hollywood is also regularly chosen by bands for their pop-up events. From *NSYNC and Justin Timberlake to Daft Punk, musical tribute showrooms have flourished there in recent years.