Posted: Tuesday, July 10th, 2018 by Gaelyn Whitley Keith

Over the years I have been asked many times how Hollywood got its name.  To start with I am going to share with you the way my great-grandparents said it happened.  While on their honeymoon in 1886 they rode horses out to the foothills of Hollywood.  They dismounted near the top of the hill to look at the view of the entire valley.  Along came a Chinese man riding in a wagon.  He stopped, got out of the wagon and politely bowed.  HJ Whitley asked him what he had been doing.  The man said in broken English, “Up early. Work hard. Hauly wood.”  The man’s wagon was full of wood he had collected early that day.  With that HJ had an epiphany.  He decided to name the new town he planned to build there Hollywood.  Holly would represent his British roots and Wood his Scottish ancestry.

The next day he road back to Hollywood (Cahuenga) and obtained a verbal contract to buy the four hundred eighty (480) acres from Mr. Hurd.  A handshake was used to finalize the deal.  A picture of the tract of land (subdivision map) that was purchase is above.  The center of the land is Highland and Hollywood Boulevard.  The square on the bottom right is where the Whitley Estate was located and the location where the first Hollywood Studio filmed on October 26, 1911. After securing the land HJ road over to visit with a friend Ivar Weid.  He told Ivar of his plans to build a town and what he planned to name it.  Ivar Weid then told his neighbors Daeida and Harvey Wilcox of Whitley’s plan.  It appears they liked the name too.

Harvey Wilcox purchased his land February 1, 1887.  Below is a copy of the deed recorded with the Los Angeles County Recorder’s Office.  As you can see at that time there was no mention of the name Hollywood.Los Angeles County Recorder  Wilcox Deed 1887Many people have been confused by an advertisement that was printed at some later date as being a recording of the name at the Los Angeles County Recorder’s Office, but that is not what a deed or subdivision map looks like.  In fact, the advertisement shows that the Hollywood Hotel was there in 1887.  It was not. Although the map is artistically appealing it is historically wrong.  

Over the years I have heard a variety of stories of how Daeida Wilcox named the town.  I would like to share them with you.  Since she really didn’t come up with the name I guess she just made up stories she hoped everyone would believe. 

Here is a story I received in an email from one of Harvey Henderson’s relatives:

From:                              RICHARD WARREN WELCH

Sent:                               Friday, February 08, 2013 2:53 PM    

Subject:                          Founding of Hollywood 

Hi. Sorry for not getting back to you, but this has been a crazy week and I fear that things will get crazier next week, so I'll try to answer a couple of your questions now before I get buried. The story is that Daieida was on a train either returning home to Hicksville, Ohio or coming back to California after visiting relatives and she supposedly met a woman from Scotland who mentioned the name "Hollywood" as her supposed home. That's doubtful because the Scottish name would not be Hollywood, but Holywood, which is a village in Dumfriesshires and even if it was the name of a home, even that would probably have been called Holywood. Holly grows wild in Scotland, but I have serious doubts that holly wood would be considered the proper name for a home or a village. Legend 1 shot down.

 
Daieida Wilcox naming Hollywood

The next story comes from a book in 1936. I assume that is why for a long time the Hollywood Bowl had a sign with holly berries on it.   Another claim is that Daeida happened to meet a stranger on a train who lived in an Illinois estate called ‘Hollywood,’ and that was where she got the idea for the name. The Hollywood subdivision dates back to 1893.  Samuel Gross, who marketed lots to Columbian Exposition visitors, developed it.  The original subdivision was in the area south of Washington Avenue.  It appears that the date from this encounter was a little late for Daeida to have used in 1887.The tract north of Washington was owned by Edith Rockefeller McCormick, a gift from her father, John D. Rockefeller, upon her marriage to Harold F. McCormick. 

According to the Hicksville Historical Society Daeida Co-founded Hollywood even before she purchased any land. How is that even possible?  They say she bought the land in 1886 but the Los Angeles County Recorder Office shows she bought it in 1887. http://www.hicksvillehistoricalsociety.org/Daeida%20Beveridge.htm  Summary of Accomplishments:

bullet 1886 — Co-founded Hollywood, California
bullet 1887 — Named Hollywood
bullet 1886–1914 — Led development of community, business, and the arts
bullet 1995 — Induction into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame


The truth is, H J Whitley named Hollywood in 1886.  

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Posted: Saturday, September 16th, 2017 by Gaelyn Whitley Keith

“Col. Griffith lips parted, and from beneath his heavy, well waxed mustache issued salutation and words of praise for the indomitable courage, indefatigable effort and patriotic spirit of Mr. Whitley, whose record of town building along the Northern Pacific Railway and the great territory of Oklahoma made him a national benefactor.  Congratulating Hollywood upon possessing such a citizen, Col Griffith then folded up and pocketed his notes and was seated.

H J Whitley standing under the Hotel Hollywood sign to meet his guests.

“Whitley! Whitley!” from all sides, brought Mr. H. J. Whitley reluctantly to his feet, his large, smooth face radiant with blushes for the Col. Griffith’s compliments, and looking extremely young for his six feet two and broad square shoulders.  Mr. Whitley chided the genial Colonel for protesting too much and again made clear that the Colonel’s great gift and other benefactions made him the outstanding citizen of Southern California; and then explained no one could accomplish great things unless environed by the cooperative spirit of “such great men as we have with us tonight, when all things are possible.  As Mr. Whitley took his seat, General Sherman was called for, and removing his arm from the back of Mr. Sandison’s chair, he raised his portly person to state that his speech of the evening might be summed up in five words; and with a sweeping gesture that encompassed both ends of the table he said: “Behold what God hath wrought” and resumed his seat.  Mr. deLongpre was introduced and complimented Mr. Whitley.”

Reference: History of Hollywood by Edwin O Palmer page 116 (1938)

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Posted: Tuesday, July 18th, 2017 by Gaelyn Whitley Keith

WALKING TOUR OF HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD!

What was it like to witness Hollywood's transformation from a tiny suburb of Los Angeles to the glamorous film capital of the world?  On this tour, you will learn the history of Hollywood from around 1885-1960, and have a chance to peek inside some of the hidden gems on the boulevard.

Join us to learn the story of how Hollywood transformed from a sleepy little town of orange groves into the center of the world's entertainment industry...in less than 50 years!  Take a walk back in time to visit the homes, shops, theaters, offices and restaurants that define Hollywood's historic identity.

You'll visit the oldest residential home on Hollywood Boulevard, visit a theater that hosted star-studded premieres during Hollywood's golden age, and sip a drink where Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks unwound after a long day of filming, and where writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway wrote classic American novels.

Our destinations include:

  • Hollywood's first and most famous movie theaters
  • The oldest remaining residence on the Boulevard
  • The longest continuously-operating restaurant in Hollywood
  • Architecturally iconic buildings
  • Hollywood's premiere shopping district during its Golden Age

Along the way you'll see how the story of Hollywood is still unfolding as the modern-day artists and creatives continue to reinvent their neighborhood while honoring its storied past. 

Saturday, July 22 at 10:00 a.m.

(tickets available now)

  • Friday, July 28 at 10:00 a.m. (tickets available now)
  • Saturday, August 5 at 10:00 a.m. (tickets available now)
  • Friday, August 11 at 10:00 a.m. (tickets available now)
  • Friday, September 29 at 10:00 a.m.

For more information, click HERE

To purchase tickets, click HERE

For BID Activities Calendar, click HERE

A Program of the Hollywood Business Owners Alliance

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Posted: Tuesday, September 12th, 2017 by Gaelyn Whitley Keith

Photo by Flora Chou/L.A. Conservancy

Holly Hill Terrace Residence 

Located in one of Hollywood's most historic residential neighborhoods, plans for the development included height restrictions to guarantee that every home retained a view of the city below.  This residence is located in one of Hollywood's most historic residential neighborhoods, Whitley Heights. Whitley Heights was the last project of developer H. J. Whitley. He developed the area from 1918 to 1928 as an upper-middle-class, single-family residential neighborhood designed to resemble a Mediterranean hillside village. The concept of a hillside development was new to Los Angeles at the time, and the plans included graded roads, retaining walls, and flights of pedestrian steps. Height restrictions guaranteed that every home retained a view of the city below, and architectural design guidelines ensured that the neighborhood homes maintained the appearance of Mediterranean-style villas. This house on Holly Hill Terrace is designed in the Mediterranean style, featuring an L-shape plan that follows the unique configuration of the lot and an exterior clad in smooth-finished stucco. Over the years, this home has remained largely intact, with the exception of a two-story veranda added in 1941. The Conservancy holds an easement protecting the home's historic façade. It is one of two easements held by the Conservancy in Whitley Heights, along with a residence on Milner Road.

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Posted: Thursday, July 13th, 2017 by Gaelyn Whitley Keith

Chamber Plans a Celebration of Hollywood Anniversaries this September! Since announcing our Anniversary Celebration, we have learned of more anniversaries! The Hollywood Chamber will recognize more milestones at a star-studded evening celebration which will include food, drinksand historic photos on display. Although we are still working on the date and location for the event, we do have these reasons to celebrate:

 

• HJ Whitley named Hollywood 130 years ago
• Hollywood Bowl opened 95 years ago
• Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel opened 90 years ago
• The Montalblan Theatre opened 90 years ago
• TCL Chinese Theatre opened 90 years ago
• IATSE Local 706 is created 85 years ago
• Fanicifull Gift Baskets opened 30 years ago
• Musicians Institute opened in Hollywood 40 years ago
• Belmont Village opened 15 years ago
• Jackie “Pink Lady” Goldberg was a pink newborn 85 years ago
• Ana Martinez started handling the stars 30 years ago
• Leron Gubler took the helm of the Hollywood Chamber 25 years ago
• Vivian Kish started with the Chamber 20 years ago
• And Vin di Bona got his star on the Walk of Fame 10 years ago and will help us Emcee the event!

Help us add to the list by sending us your epic anniversary date and we will announce it in the next update! Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information on sponsorship and/or if you are celebrating a milestone anniversary this year!

The Chamber issued a request for proposals for new holiday decorations on Hollywood Blvd. The Chamber is considering ways to bring back decorations to the famous boulevard. 

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