Sightseeing in Hollywood

Few places attract tourists looking for sightseeing hotspots as much as Hollywood does and it’s no wonder as the district is loaded with movie, television, radio and music myth and mystery. Hollywood resides in Los Angeles, California and is just outside of the downtown area. It’s noted as the historical center of the movie industry in the United States and the term is often used to refer to the industry. The district of Hollywood caters as much to the famous as those coming to see them so the experience is truly unique.

Hollywood Walk of Fame

The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a sidewalk that stretches along Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street and is dotted with more than 2000 stars featuring the names of celebrities honored by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. The Walk of Fame began as part of a Hollywood Improvement Program in the 1950s to get some public support for the region and increase business for local companies. Construction officially started in 1958 and was officially dedicated in 1960. Initially the project failed as this strip of Hollywood was filled with prostitutes and drug addicts. In 1978 to revive the effort new rules were adopted which required the honoree to appear at a ceremony and then pay a $2500 fee to maintain their star. This seemed to work and the program is now a great success and has expanded beyond its original borders.

Hollywood and Vine

The intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street is the center of the Hollywood Walk of Fame and once the center of the movie industry but since then most companies associated with production have moved to locations with more land with the exception of the Capitol Records Tower which still resides on the intersection. The intersection and the surrounding area used to be full of tourist destinations and celebrity hotspots but most of those were torn down to make way for newer, bigger buildings. The city is currently looking to restore some of the old luster to the area.

Capitol Records Tower

Capitol Records is one of the big four music companies and was originally located in the Capitol Records Tower on the corner of Hollywood and Vine.  Founded in 1942 by Johnny Mercer with help from Buddy DeSylva and Glenn Wallichs. The Capitol Records Tower is one of the most easily recognizable landmarks in the region with a 13 story tower that proclaims to be earthquake resistant and was the world’s first circular office building. The building resembles a large stack of vinyl records on a turntable. Take note of the light at the top of the spire, it blinks out the word Hollywood in Morse code. The tower no longer serves as the company’s headquarters but still is used as a recording studio with the rooms specifically designed by Les Paul to minimize noise and vibration.

Hollywood Sign

The Hollywood Sign is probably the most famous landmark in the region and perhaps more recognized than any other in the country. Created as an advertisement in 1923 the sign originally read HOLLYWOODLAND and was meant to draw attention to a housing community. The sign fell into disrepair but was so noted that in 1949 the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce had the LAND portion removed and vowed to maintain the sign, but they decided to eliminate the light bulbs and the sign again began to fall apart. In 1978 a movement spearheaded by Alice Cooper garnered enough money to replace the sign with a more permanent steel version. Contrary to some legends, only one person has committed suicide by jumping from the sign, Broadway actress Peg Entwistle in 1932.

Hollywood Bowl

The Hollywood Bowl is a noted outdoor amphitheater that hosts numerous live musical performances throughout the year. The Hollywood Bowl opened in 1922 on a natural amphitheater knows and Daisy Dell. Throughout the years the Bowl has gone through a number of changes and seen numerous bands come and go. The largest audience at the bowl turned up in 1936 to hear opera singer Lily Pons. Check the website to see what musical entertainment will be featured during your visit.

Paramount Studios

Paramount Studios was originally known as Paramount Pictures Company and they released films created by the Famous Players Film Company and Lasky Feature Play Company. The three companies would later merge and fall under the moniker of Paramount. Studio tours currently run daily, Monday through Friday, and feature a two our guided tour that provides visitors with historical information and behind-the-scenes views of their favorite television shows and movies. Advanced reservations are required as space is limited so be sure to call to save your spot.

Universal Studios

Universal Studios Hollywood also offers studio tours but adds a little more drama to the adventure. On the Universal Studios Hollywood tour you’ll see the wreckage of the War of the Worlds as seen through Steven Spielberg’s eyes, visit Wisteria Lane from the Desperate Housewives, meet Normal Bates at the Bates Motel, watch special effects from the Fast and the Furious, check out the set from King Kong and run into famed monster of the deep, Jaws. Universal Studios Hollywood has found a way to bank upon their movie history by creating an entire theme park that is full of thrills and chills and amusement park rides and shows that will keep you busy and entertained all day long.

Grauman’s Chinese Theater

Grauman’s Chinese Theater was once the main draw for the entire region, serving as a cornerstone for Hollywood since its opening in 1927. The grand opening was the most spectacular theater opening with thousands lined up just to catch a glimpse of their favorite celebrities. Artifacts were transported from China and Chinese artisans came to craft many other pieces of ornamentation. Grauman owned the theater with his partners, Howard Schenck, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. The Grauman Chinese Theater was declared a landmark in 1968 and continual restoration has occurred since to maintain its appearance. Grauman began a tradition of imprinting star hands and feet and a few other body parts in concrete but it’s the coveted Forecourt to the Stars that holds the imprints of the upper echelon of celestial bodies.

The Sunset Strip

Sunset Boulevard’s mile and a half stretch between Hollywood and Beverly Hills is nicknamed The Sunset Strip and is the most noted stretch of land on the street. It’s packed with clubs, restaurants, boutiques and other entertainment that draw crowds for night time fun. The strip is noted for its huge billboards which were initially designed to catch the attention of producers but now hawk just about everything. If you’re looking to spot a rock star or famous musician then The Sunset Strip after dark is your best bet.
Creative Commons License photo credit: changrs