Hollywood was founded in 1857. Accounts of the name coming from imported English holly bushes are said to be incorrect. The name actually came about, the story goes, because the wife of Harvey Henderson Wilcox, a real-estate developer in the late 1880s, was travelling on a train when she met a woman whose home was called "Hollywood." When Mrs. Wilcox returned home she gave that name to her ranch.
Hollywood was incorporated as a municipality in 1903. In 1910, the townsmen voted to become part of the City of Los Angeles to secure a badly needed water supply.
In the early 1900s, motion picture production companies from New York and New Jersey started moving to sunny California because of the good weather and longer days. Although electric lights existed at that time, none were powerful enough to adequately expose film; the best source of illumination for film production was natural sunlight. The first movie studio in the Hollywood area was founded in 1911 by David Horsley for the Nestor Company. In the same year, another fifteen Independents settled there.
Southern California's distance from New Jersey also made it more difficult for Thomas Edison to enforce his motion picture patents. At the time, Edison owned almost all the patents relevant to motion picture production, and in the East, filmmakers acting independently of Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company were often sued or enjoined by Edison and his agents. Thus, filmmakers working in California could work independent of Edison's control, and if Edison ever sent agents to California, word would usually reach Los Angeles before the agents did, and the filmmakers could escape to nearby Mexico.
The famous Hollywood sign originally read "Hollywoodland." It was erected in 1923 to advertise a new housing development in the hills above Hollywood. For several years the sign was left to deteriorate. In 1949, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce stepped in and offered to remove the last four letters and repair the rest. The sign is now a registered trademark and cannot be used without the permission of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, who also manage the famous "Walk of Fame."
The word "Hollywood" is also colloquially used to refer to the film and television industry in Southern California, the term deriving from the famous community.
The Charlie Chaplin Studios, at La Brea and De Lonpre Avenues just south of Sunset Boulevard, was built in 1917. It has had many owners after 1953, including Kling Studios, who produced the Superman TV series with George Reeves, Red Skelton, who used the sound stages for his CBS TV variety show, and CBS filmed Perry Mason with Raymond Burr there. It has also been owned by Herb Albert's A&M Record Company and Tijuana Brass Enterprises. It is currently The Jim Henson Company, home of the Muppets. In 1969, The Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Board named the studio a historical cultural monument.
The first Academy Awards presentation ceremony took place on May 16, 1929 during a banquet held in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Tickets were $10.00 and there were two hundred and fifty people in attendance.
Hollywood and the film industry of the 1930s are described in P. G. Wodehouse's novel Laughing Gas (1936) and in Budd Schulberg's What Makes Sammy Run? (1941), and is parodied in Terry Pratchett's novel Moving Pictures (1990), which is a takeoff of Singin' In The Rain.
The famous Capital Records building, on Vine Street just north of Hollywood Boulevard, is a recording studio not open to the public, but its unique circular design looks like a stack of old 45s.
In November 2002, a measure calling for Hollywood to secede from Los Angeles and form its own incorporated city failed by a wide margin.