The Time Before the Sign: The Western Frontier

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Imagine a time when the only stars in Hollywood were found in the crystal- clear night skies arching over rolling hills.

This was the setting for the area’s native people, the Gabrielinos. Later, the Gabrielinos lived on missions for some time but reminders of their culture remain.

Before Hollywood became the world’s entertainment mecca, it resembled other west frontiers – a landscape of farmers, cowboys, prospectors, bandits, and mostly undeveloped land. All land north of Sunset Boulevard, for example, was considered useless for anything but grazing.

With more and more Easterners drawn by the promise of sunny skies and mild, dry weather, the area’s bedrock industry – real estate – soon kicked into high gear.

Subdivisions begat more subdivisions, and by the end of the 19th century Hollywood was taking on the contours of a recognizable town. Thanks to Daeida Wilcox, it also had a name.

In 1887, Mrs. Wilcox, wife of town founder Harvey Wilcox, met a woman on a train trip who referred to her Florida summer home, “Hollywood.” She was so struck by the name that she suggested it to her husband…and the rest is history.