Welcome to Awakenings

Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Hollywood Founded on Christian Principles?

This Day in History: February 1, 1887

The origins of Hollywood can be seen as ironic
as Hollywood is now synonymous with sin and entertainment.
Source: en.wikipedia.org
The visions of Hollywood today mirror nothing of those of its founders, Harvey Henderson Wilcox and his wife, Daeida. They were devout Christians who envisioned the land as the perfect site for a utopian-like community ... utopian in the sense people could live a highly moral life free of vices such as alcohol. Wilcox was thought to be prohibitionist, thus his intolerance to sale and usage of alcoholic beverages.

It was on this day, February 1, 1887 when Harvey Wilcox officially registers Hollywood with the Los Angeles County recorder’s office. 

(ca. 1887) - Drawing of the first map of Hollywood, issued by real estate agent H.H. Wilcox in 1887. Tracts and lots are numbered on the map. The Hotel Hollywood inset never was built as shown. Wilcox' residence is another inset. His office was located at 34 North Spring Street, where people could inquire for particulars concerning the development. Various other sites are listed at right and numbered accordingly on the map. Railroad routes are also included. At left is the Pacific Ocean.
For a little background, the name was inspired by a Chicago friend of Daeida's. Harvey, having been been crippled from a bout of polio since the age of 13, never let his affliction interfere with his spirit to be successful in life. Since he had already made a fortune in real estate in Kansas prior to the move to California it was not unusual for him to invest in land. The purchase: 160 acres located in the Cahuenga Valley. The Cahuenga Valley was located in the foothills to the west of a once sleepy settlement known as Los Angeles.

(ca. 1880) - The Cahuenga Valley Railroad,
a steam railroad built in the 1880's to provide access to Hollywood.
The locomotive/passenger car is shown on Hollywood Boulevard, then Prospect Avenue.
Harvey set about laying out the streets of the community he and his wife had in mind. At that time, the streets were dirt so they were lined with pepper trees. Main street was named Prospect Avenue which later became Hollywood Boulevard. As Harvey sold lots, Daeida worked to raise monies necessary to build churches, a school and a library. Harvey Wilcox died young at the age of 59 never realizing his dream, leaving behind a 28 year old widow.

Why didn't the dream survive with focus on a community thriving as envisioned by Harvey and Daeida Wilcox?

The land purchased by Harvey Wilcox was only seven miles from Los Angeles, which at the time of his death was no longer a sleepy settlement. Los Angeles had grown aggressively with the expansion of the railroad. In 1900, nine years after Harvey's death, Hollywood's population was 500 as compared to Los Angeles busting 100,000. Hollywood and Los Angeles were connected by a single-track streetcar running down Prospect Avenue. Transportation was slow so it took two hours to make the seven-mile trip with service being infrequent instead of on a regular schedule. To add to the dilemma, Hollywood was facing an inadequate supply of water. As a result, the community of Hollywood voted to consolidate with Los Angeles in the year 1910.

(ca. 1900) - View of Cahuenga and Prospect (later Hollywood Blvd.) and
a streetcar car with Santa Monica on its side.
Pacific Electric: The main depot circa 1910.
Shortly after the consolidation, a fledgling motion-picture industry began growing exponentially. The mild, sunny climate and varied terrain of Southern California was perfect, moviemakers had found their ideal setting. This was the beginning of Harvey Wilcox’s dreams of a sober, conservative religious community fading into the background. As the Senses of Cinema changed in style and appearance, Hollywood became known throughout the world as the gilded center of an industry built on fantasy, fame and glamour. Alcohol? Well, it flows about as fluently as the water, maybe more so on many occasions!

Nestor Studio, Hollywood's first movie studio, 1912
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org
Hollywood Boulevard from the Dolby Theatre, before 2006
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org

Image Source:

Early Views of Hollywood (1850 - 1920)