Over the years I have been speaking to audiances around the world on televison, radio talk shows, newspaper interview and at Hollywood Academy Award functions. Many times I have been asked, "How did Hollywood got its name?" To start with I am going to share with you the way my great-grandmother wrote it in her handwriten memoirs. While on their honeymoon in 1886 they rode horses out to the foothills of the Cahuega Valley. 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 was hauling wood. 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 below. 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 visited with a friend Ivar Weid. He told Ivar of his plans to build a town named Hollywood. Ivar Weid then told his neighbors Daeida and Harvey Wilcox of Whitley’s plan.
Many people have been confused by an advertisement printed by the Los Angeles Litho Company which was produced at a later date.
It was added to a pamphlet given away by the bank as an advertisment. Many of the futures on the map are inacurrate. Many of the buildings never existed.
Much of the mis-information that is currently circulating comes from Edwin Palmer. Below is a disclaimer written in the front of the book "Hollywood History" by Edwin O Palmer, Edwin O Palmer Publisher 1936. Unfornately much of his misinformation was counted as a reliable source by authors who published in the 1950's onward.
The truth is, H J Whitley named Hollywood in 1886.