The best-known song about Hollywood was introduced in the Busby Berkeley-directed 1937 film Hollywood Hotel. Since then it has become the unofficial anthem for the movie capital of the world, and is even played at the annual Academy Awards ceremonies.
A business and residential district in the city of Los Angeles, the core of Hollywood for a tourist is its three fascinating boulevards: Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood Boulevard, and Melrose Avenue. All three are worth seeing. Hollywood Blvd. is known for its entertainment history; Sunset Blvd. for its clubs and nightlife; and Melrose Ave. for its shopping, nightlife, and eclecticism.
Hollywood was founded as an independent city in 1903 and voted to merge with the City of Los Angeles in 1910. That same year also saw the birth of the Southern California motion picture industry when D. W. Griffith relocated his Biograph Company, sparking a westward migration of East Coast filmmakers. As movies exploded in popularity in the 1910s and '20s, the name Hollywood became synonymous with "the Industry." In the decades following World War II, Hollywood's glitz and glamour began to fade as most of the leading film studios moved to other places.
The House Un-American Activities Committee combed through Hollywood in the late 1940s and 1950s and built its “Hollywood Blacklist,” which consisted of screenwriters, actors, directors, musicians and other entertainment employees who were suspected of being affiliated with the Communist Party. HUAC called on hundreds of “suspected” communists with in the industry to testify, many rolled over and named names, but some, like the “Hollywood Ten” refused to incriminate themselves in a crime they did not commit and were arrested. By 1952, the Hollywood Blacklist rejected over 300 people from working in the industry. It was not until the late 1950’s that the blacklist stopped terrorizing Hollywood.
In the 1980s, Hollywood was considered one of the worst neighborhoods in Los Angeles. The 1990s, however, saw the beginning of community redevelopment efforts, and today Hollywood is once again one of the region's most vibrant areas.
Paramount is the only major studio still headquartered in Hollywood, but the area nonetheless remains an important center of the entertainment industry with its myriad production and broadcast facilities. Other affiliated businesses include Sunset-Gower Studios, Hollywood Center Studios, Raleigh Studios, Jim Henson Studios (a subsidiary of Walt Disney Pictures), and KTLA Studios (the local CW affiliate, housed on the original Warner Bros. lot). The other major studios are located to the north in the Universal City-Burbank corridor (Universal, Warner Bros., Disney, ABC, NBC, and DreamWorks). Most of the rest are to the west: Century City (Fox, MGM), the Fairfax District (CBS), and Culver City (Sony).
If you want to see where films are shot, take a tour at one of the major studios: Universal "bundles" a full amusement park with its tour, while several other studios offer smaller, but interesting tours. In reality, most films are shot in warehouses and sound stages in Burbank and elsewhere.
If you want to see celebrities, pack your patience or be prepared to play the role of boulevardier. The chances of bumping into a celebrity are very low (mainly because most of the celebrities who live in Hollywood usually do not go out in public) unless you're willing to do a lot of "hanging out" at expensive restaurants in Beverly Hills, on Sunset Plaza, or in Malibu.
You can easily see where they live by taking a tour or buying a star map for about $10. (Do you remember Tatum O'Neal in The Bad News Bears?) You might also try the Book Soup bookstore or the Viper Room bar, both on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood, or a number of other locations in the area where the stars live their day-to-day lives.
A recommended place to see stars in Hollywood is Griffith Park Observatory, which appeared in Rebel Without a Cause and many other movies.