Hollywood became synonymous with the greatest film industry in the world when movie studios, a new entertainment medium at the time, all moved to the Los Angeles suburb in the 1910’s when the movie industry was taking off in popularity. Today Paramount is the only major movie studio still in Hollywood as the others have moved to the north or west. With this said it can still be quite fun to visit Hollywood as it is still the symbolic home of the film industry.
Most of the appeal of Hollywood is based on Hollywood Blvd (known for its entertainment history), Sunset Blvd (clubs and nightlife), and Melrose Ave (shopping, nightlife, and eclecticism). Have fun walking among the choas, but just don’t get sucked into any of the scams (an “artist” giving you a CD and then demanding money is the biggest). With that said my sights were:
Hollywood Walk of Fame – Since 1958 over 2600 stars have been laid in the sidewalk of Hollywood Blvd to commemorate famous movie, radio, theatre, and TV personalities. It is fun to walk around and see what names you come across, but it is crowded as 10 million people come here each year. You can check the Walk of Fame’s website for a schedule for upcoming ceremonies (the star is required to attend the ceremony).
Hollywood Sign – Hollywood’s most recognizable landmark is easy to see from the Griffith Observatory (wrote about it last Thursday), but you are not allowed to hike to it anymore. It original was placed in 1923 as an advertisement for a real estate development called Hollywood Land, but was left up (minus the Land part) due to its internationally recognized symbol of Hollywood.
Capitol Records Building – The circular tower is one of the most iconic buildings in LA. Unfortunately, tours of the inside are no longer offered to the general public.
Charlie Chaplin Studios – Built in 1917, as the studios for Charlie Chaplin’s film company, it was constructed in Tudor-style architecture giving it the appearance of a small English village. Many of Chaplin’s most iconic films were filmed here. It is now owned by the Jim Henson Company and now has a statue of Kermit the Frog above the main gate. Sadly, the studio is not open for tours.
Paramount Pictures Studio Tour – Paramount has been using this as a production facility since 1926 and has filmed many notable pictures here. You can take a 2 hour guided tour of the backlot, which is still in use today, for $53, but advance reservation is recommended.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery – This beautiful cemetery is one of Los Angeles’ oldest (started in 1899) and is the final resting place for hundreds of film stars, directors, writers, and other influential figures from the entertainment industry.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre – The most famous movie theater in the world. It opened in 1927 and is home to the cement footprints and hand prints of many of history’s most famous movie stars.
Dolby Theatre – Site of the annual Academy Awards. Half hour guided tours of the theater are available for $19.
El Capitan Theatre – A lavish movie palace dating from 1926 and today owned by Disney.
Hollywood Heritage Museum – This museum has a collection of photographs and memorabilia from old Hollywood. There are lots of other museums, but most of them can be found elsewhere (ie Wax Museum, Ripley’s, etc)