The Mystical, Mythical, Magical Land of
Where Movie Magic is Made
Where is Hollywood...and What is Hollywood?
More than a place...not really a place...more of a concept, an idea. Really a catchall phrase for the entire Southern California region that has become the center of all entertainment. It is a Brand name as much as anything else.
Hollywood itself is a neighborhood of the city of Los Angeles, not even a separate city. It is relatively small, only a few square miles. Hollywood proper has about a dozen studios, but only one "major" studio. The rest of the majors are outside of Hollywood in Burbank, San Fernando Valley, Culver City, Westwood.
Hollywood the concpet can be best be described by what the industry calls the "30 Mile Zone" (the TMZ or the "Studio Zone"), a lopsided circle with a radius of 30 miles starting at the cross hairs of the corner of West Beverly Boulevard and North La Cienega Boulevard. It covers much of Los Angeles County and parts of Ventura and Orange Counties. Its area includes all the major and minor studios you have ever heard of those and most of the ones you never knew existed.
Visit the Studios of Los Angeles and the West known as
(click a geographical area for a list of studios)
- Hollywood, West H'wood, East H'wood
- Edendale and Silver Lake
- Culver City
- Burbank and The Valley
- Studio City and Glendale
- Greater L.A City, County and Downtown
- Santa Monica
- Long Beach
- West L.A.
- San Diego, Santa Barbara, and other SoCal areas
- Studio Ranches and Backlots
- The Major Studios
- The Majors
- Poverty Row
- The Tiny and Missing Studios
- The Pioneers and Moguls
A Gallery of Studios Throughout the Years
A Very Brief History of Hollywood
Hollywood was not the place that started the movie industry. It was the place the movie makers came to thrive. Why Hollywood? Why not one of the other previous movie centers? Fort Lee? Jacksonville? Chicago? Why not New York? Why not some other yet undiscovered place? The answer is simple and at the same time complex, as it involved a series of decisions made by the big studios, the city fathers, and the renegade movies makers trying to skirt patent laws.
But why Hollywood? It was an accident.
The first studios in Los Angeles, before they settled in Hollywood, were in a little section called Edendale (now known as Silver Lake) and downtown LA. William Selig moved his big Chicago operation to Edendale trying to find year round sunshine. This was in 1909. His Chicago operation had been around since 1907. American Mutoscope and Biograph had been coming to Los Angeles since 1908 and in 1911 built its first Los Angeles studio where Staples Center now sits. The giant movie distributor Pathe followed Selig to Edendale the same year building its first, small west coast studio. Later that year the New York Motion Picture Company set up its Bison Studio just down the block.
All of this before the first Hollywood studio arrived on the scene.
Once David Horsley leased the Blondeau Tavern at Sunset and Gower for his Nestor Studio, the flood gates opened. Other producers followed, congregating at that corner and, as though an explosion occurred, the repercussion reverberated outward all over Hollywood, and Los Angeles, and Southern California. Studio by studio Hollywood became congested with stages, set, cowboys, bathing beauties, cars, and pavement.
Hollywood, West Hollywood, East Hollywood, North Hollywood. Burbank, Culver City, Studio City, San Fernando Valley. San Diego, Santa Barbara, Northern California.
Read on to find out more about the studios and their stories.
Where Hollywood Began
Of course, Hollywood was not where movie making began in Los Angeles. Movie making began in downtown L.A. and the first California studios were in Edendale and, of all places, San Diego.
But when the first studio was built in Hollywood it began an explosion that, to this day, continues. Hollywood's epicenter was the northwest corner of Sunset and Gower
William Horsely built the first studio at 6101 Sunset Blvd. in an old tavern, the Blondeau. He called it Nestor Studio. Christie Comedies moved right in and shared it with Horsley.
Studios were built across the street, behind it, kitty corner, and down the blocks in 3 directions. The first talkie was shot half a mile east at Warner Sunset. Hollywood's largest, Paramount Studio, is a mile south. Charles Chaplin's personal studio was 2 miles west and Buster Keaton's studio was walking distance south. Universal and Warner Bros are just over the hill, as is Disney. M-G-M and Fox are a few miles to the west.
Over 200 studios are or were in the immediate area. They all radiate out from this place. You will meet them all.
Key Dates in the History of the Studios
in California and the Los Angeles Area
- July 1909 Selig Company in 1909 shoots California's first complete movie ("Heart of a Race Tout") at non-studio location downtown L.A. behind a Chines laundry on Olive St. between 7th and 8th streets
- 1908 Biograph shot at non-studio location downtown L.A. at Washington and what would become Grand St
- Early 1909 William Selig builds California's first purposefully built studio in Edendale
- Fall 1909 Bison 101 (NYMPC) sets up in Edendale
- Late 1909 Essanay establishes a studio in Niles, (now a neighborhood of Fremont), CA
- Jan-Apr 1910 Biograph establishes a non-studio filming location at Grand and Washington. Uses the studio seasonally until 1915
- 1910 Pathe establishes its West Coast Studio in Edendale
- Oct. 15, 1910 California Motion Picture Manufacturing Company of Long Beach builds the first studio owned by a California company
- Dec. 11, 1910 Kalem Co. of Chicago moves production to Verdugo Canyon, Glendale
- 1911 Biograph builds its first L.A. studio at 906 Girard (at Georgia) downtown L.A. and operates seasonally until 1915