Hooray for Cahuenga!
Somehow, it doesn’t have the same ring, does it?
The area now called Hollywood was once known as Nopalera (or Prickly-Pear Field in Spanish) and later as Cahuenga Valley.
Then, in 1896, developer HJ Whitley supposedly asked a local Chinese merchant what he was doing with his wagon-load of timber.
The response came back that he was hauling wood – but in his pidgin Chinese accent, that came out as “I Holly Wood”
Even if it’s not true, it would make a great movie script – and that somehow sums up the whole Hollywood ethos.
Hollywood, a suburb of Los Angeles, has long been synonymous with movie-making .. in fact, by the 1920s, it was claimed to be the fifth largest industry in the US.
It draws visitors from all over the world to gawk at the stars in the footpath on Hollywood Boulevard (Ummm .. Guilty, Your Honour), to snap photos of the Hollywood-and-Vine sign and the Chinese Theatre (Again, Guilty) and to take selfies if there happens to be a red carpet event while they are there (Yes, that was us as well!)
Oh – and to take a photo of the iconic Hollywood sign. Which, by the way, isn’t IN Hollywood.
Instead, it’s above the suburb, on Mount Lee.
And originally, it said “Hollywoodland” – because it was a billboard for an upscale real estate development.
By the way, the “Knickerbocker” sign in the foreground of our picture is the old Knickerbocker Hotel … now an old-people’s home.
What that says about Hollywood, I will leave for you to decide.