Historic Landmarks in Hollywood

Hollywood Historic Landmarks

Hollywood, home to one of the world’s most famous signs, symbolizes style and fashion, arts and culture to millions around the world. Griffith Park, the Hollywood Entertainment District, and the Hollywood Wax Museum are all worth a visit. Popular dining establishments are easily accessible, and the Farmer’s Market and Universal CityWalk offer excellent shopping opportunities. Melrose Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard are two popular streets for a walking tour.

The Hollywood Entertainment District is home to a wide variety of dining options. Whether you’re craving gourmet Wolfgang Puck cuisine, an old-fashioned burger Johnnie Rockets-style or upscale sushi, the District has it all.

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Follow the more than 2,000 stars along the Hollywood Walk of Fame throughout the Hollywood Entertainment District and find your favorite stars in film, radio, records, theatre and television.

Hollywood Walk of Fame

The Walk of Fame is a chronological history of the Hollywood-based entertainment industry and honors those who have made significant contributions in the categories of radio, television, motion pictures, recording and live performance.

Historic Hollywood Landmarks

You can explore Hollywood’s historic landmarks by following the historic signs posted around the District. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, along with the Hollywood Entertainment District, installed this historic sign program that marks the location of many of the significant Hollywood landmark structures.

Hollywood is rich in history, both as a location and as the heart of the entertainment industry. What started as a patch of orange groves eight miles west of Los Angeles in the late 1800s, became incorporated into a town of 700 in 1903.

Follow the Historic Signs to uncover some of Hollywood’s fascinating history.

Ambassador Hotel & Cocoanut Grove

3400 Wilshire Boulevard

For decades, the Cocoanut Grove nightclub inside the world-famous Ambassador Hotel hosted some of the most famous names in entertainment and politics, including Frank Sinatra, Howard Hughes, and Richard Nixon, who wrote his famous Checkers speech there in 1952. The Grove, as it was colloquially known, even hosted the 12th annual Academy Awards, where Gone With the Wind was named Best Picture. The hotel was closed in 1989, and the majority of it was demolished in 2006, but portions of the Cocoanut Grove still stand. There were even plans to incorporate the former nightclub into the auditorium of the RFK Community Schools on the site.

Avalon – 1735 Vine Street
Originally “The Palace,” this was the setting of such famous shows as Ken Murray’s Blackouts, The Colgate Comedy Hour, Lawrence Welk Show, This is Your Life, and The Jerry Lewis Show.

Baine Building – 6605 Hollywood Boulevard
The most elegant Spanish Revival building in the historic district.

C. C. Brown’s Ice Cream – 7007 Hollywood Boulevard
Birthplace of the hot fudge sundae.

C. E. Toberman Co. Building – 6780 Hollywood Boulevard
Site of first office of Hollywood’s most prolific builder and philanthropist.

Capitol Records – 1750 Vine Street
The world’s first circular office building that hosted such artists as the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, and Nat King Cole.

Charlie Chaplin Studios

Charlie Chaplin had amassed enough clout by 1917 to open his own studio. Charlie Chaplin Studios, located just south of Sunset Boulevard on La Brea Avenue, was a cutting-edge film production facility that also housed Chaplin’s private residence, complete with a swimming pool, tennis courts, and horse stables. Many of Chaplin’s most famous films were made at the studio, including his first “talkie,” 1940’s The Great Dictator, and 1925’s The Gold Rush, one of the highest grossing films of the silent era. By the late 1950s, Chaplin had virtually retired from filmmaking, and the property changed hands several times in the years that followed. The studio then became the new home of Jim Henson Productions in 2000. To honor Chaplin, a color statue of Kermit the Frog dressed as none other than The Little Tramp was installed at the front gate.

TCL (Grauman’s) Chinese Theatre

6925 Hollywood Boulevard

The most famous movie house in the world, built by Sid Grauman. In 1968, the distinctive structure was designated a historic and cultural landmark in recognition of its significance in Hollywood history. The theater is located on Hollywood Boulevard’s “Walk of Fame,” which commemorates famous movie stars with plaques in the sidewalk. Visitors to Hollywood frequently walk the Walk of Fame and try to visit Grauman’s Chinese Theatre as well, to admire the elaborate decorations, which were most recently refurbished in 2001.

TCL (Grauman's) Chinese Theatre
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

The story of how the idea of immortalizing celebrities in cement originated about has been told in numerous brochures about the location, though it may or may not be true. According to the story, Norma Talmadge, a friend of Grauman’s, got out of her car to check out Sid’s new place. The cement was still wet and she accidentally stepped in it. Mary Pickford’s signature was the first “official” signature in the courtyard. The theater was co-owned by Mary and her then-husband Douglas Fairbanks.

Christie Realty – 6765 Hollywood Boulevard
Home of the Embassy Club, a popular private club that catered to Hollywood’s elite in the 1920’s.

Egyptian Theatre – 6712 Hollywood Boulevard
Sid Grauman’s first Hollywood movie palace where the first movie premiere was held.

El Capitan Theatre

6834 Hollywood Boulevard

The most lavish of Hollywood’s legitimate theatres, which was first to screen Citizen Kane.

The historic El Capitan Theatre was built in 1926, before movies became the entertainment capital’s main export. Instead, it was a theater that hosted some of the most prestigious and well-regarded dramatic plays of the first half of the twentieth century. El Capitan’s 1,550-seat auditorium hosted 120 productions.

Hollywood El Capitan Theatre

It took the release of a small film called Citizen Kane to convince El Capitan to give in to the movies. The El Capitan was renamed the Paramount and undertook a series of interior updates that covered up most of the champagne-era decor that made it famous.

The El Capitan had fallen into disrepair by the late 1940s and had been closed for nearly fifty years before being reopened in 1989 by the Disney company. All of its original aesthetic details were meticulously restored by a team of historical experts. Visitors to Hollywood can watch late-night tv series tapings, concerts, and new movie premieres from inside the El Capitan.

First National Bank – 6777 Hollywood Boulevard
Once the tallest building in Los Angeles.

Guaranty Building – 6331 Hollywood Boulevard
Charlie Chaplin and Cecil B. DeMille invested in this building that attracted tenants like gossip columnist Hedda Hopper.

Hillview Apartments – 6531 Hollywood Boulevard
One of the earliest apartment buildings erected to house actors.

Hollywood Center Building – Hollywood Boulevard and Cherokee Street
The first home of the Screen Actors Guild and of the Writers Guild of America.

Hollywood Plaza Hotel – 1637 Vine Street
Doris Day and Jackie Gleason lived here. Also housed Clara Bow’s “It” Cafe.

Hollywood Professional Building – 7046 Hollywood Boulevard
Building from which Ronald Reagan ran the Screen Actors Guild.

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

7000 Hollywood Boulevard

Site of the first Academy Awards and where Marilyn Monroe did her first film shoot. The Hollywood Roosevelt, one of the most celebrated structures along Hollywood Boulevard, has been one of Los Angeles’ most luxurious vacation destinations for more than a century.

Roosevelt hotel Hollywood

This wonderful historic hotel was the creation of several prominent film industry professionals active in Hollywood during the Roaring Twenties, including actor Douglas Fairbanks and his second wife, movie star Mary Pickford; iconic movie producer Louis B. Mayer; and Sid Grauman, founder of the famed TCL Chinese Theater.

Jane’s House – 6541 Hollywood Boulevard
The last remaining Victorian home on Hollywood Boulevard, which was a school for children of famous movie personalities.

Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company – Vine Street and Selma Avenue
Site where the first feature-length motion picture was filmed in Hollywood, and where Paramount Pictures began.

Johnny Grant Building – 7018 Hollywood Boulevard
Building named in honor of Hollywood’s Honorary Mayor and long-time goodwill ambassador.

Knickerbocker Hotel

1714 Ivar Avenue

Famous hotel from which Queen for a Day was broadcast and where Elvis Presley lived. The Knickerbocker, built in 1925, is one of Hollywood’s oldest hotels, with a history unlike any other in Hollywood. D.W. Griffith, a visionary silent-era director, died in the hotel lobby in 1948. The building was also the site of a rooftop seance on Halloween in 1936, when Harry Houdini’s widow attempted to contact her husband. The strangest event, however, was Irene Gibbons’ suicide. Gibbons worked at MGM as a costume designer, designing outfits for Elizabeth Taylor and Doris Day, among many others. On November 15, 1962, a clearly upset Gibbons told Doris Day that she was in love with actor Gary Cooper before leaping from a bathroom window. Since Cooper’s death in 1961, Gibbons had been severely depressed and revealed that he was the the one man she had ever loved.

Masonic Temple – 6840 Hollywood Boulevard
Neoclassical Revival building where D.W. Griffith’s funeral was held.

Max Factor Building – 1668 Highland Avenue
Original headquarters of the man who pioneered screen makeup. Now the home of The Hollywood Museum.

Montmontre Cafe – 6753 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood’s first nightclub where Joan Crawford was discovered.

Music Box Revue Theatre – 6126 Hollywood Boulevard
One of Hollywood’s oldest theatres that goes back to the silent era, now named for Henry Fonda.

Musso & Frank Grill

6667 Hollywood Boulevard

Hollywood’s oldest continuously operating restaurant. The Musso & Frank Grill, Hollywood’s oldest restaurant, opened in 1919 and was a favorite of writers. In the late 1930s, when William Faulkner was writing for the movies, he was frequently seen drinking at the bar. Regulars included F. Scott Fitzgerald and Raymond Chandler. The restaurant is even mentioned in Chandler’s 1939 crime novel, The Big Sleep.

Musso & Franks Grill
Looking east on Hollywood Boulevard between Las Palmas and Cherokee avenues. The Musso & Franks Grill, Hollywood’s oldest restaurant, is seen above after moving one door east to 6667 Hollywood Blvd.; image via Water and Power

There is also a well-known legend that the silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks and Rudolph Valentino once raced each other on horseback to Musso & Franks, though no one has ever confirmed the story. Because it was Charlie’s favorite, the corner booth next to the sidewalk is known as the Chaplin booth. Martin Sheen or Millie Perkins are more likely to be seated in Booth 1 these days, as the restaurant still stands in its original location and is a celebrity magnet.

Owl Drug & Julian Medical – 6380 Hollywood Boulevard
The finest example of art deco streamline moderne architecture in the historic district.

Pantages Theatre

6233 Hollywood Boulevard

The last great movie palace built in Hollywood that hosted the Academy Awards and Emmy Awards and housed the office of Howard Hughes.

Pantages Theatre
The exterior of the Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Boulevard, shortly after it opened. circa 1930s; image via Water and Power

Raymond Chandler Square – Hollywood Boulevard and Cahuenga Avenue
Corner made famous by Raymond Chandler in his Phillip Marlowe novels.

S. H. Kress Department Store – 6608 Hollywood Boulevard
Frederick Mellinger established his headquarters for Frederick’s of Hollywood lingerie here.

Site of Garden Court Apartments – 7021 Hollywood Boulevard
Magnificent home of some of early Hollywood’s biggest celebrities, including Louis B. Mayer, Rudolph Valentino and Lillian Gish.

Site of Hollywood Hotel

Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue

Hollywood’s first famous hotel and gathering place of the stars. H.J. Whitley designed the historic Hollywood Hotel, which opened in 1902. Whitley was influential in attracting the fledgling film industry to the small southern California town, earning him the moniker “Father of Hollywood.” Many of the era’s biggest stars stayed at the sprawling 125-room hotel, which hosted a ballroom dance every Thursday night.

hollywood hotel
postcard of Hollywood Hotel circa 1930

The building was demolished in 1956 to make way for an office building and shopping center, but in 2001 it was reopened as the Kodak Theatre, which has hosted the Academy Awards every year since. The Hollywood and Highland entertainment complex built around it includes a courtyard dedicated to D.W. Griffith’s 1916 masterpiece Intolerance, which was filmed a few miles east.

Site of NBC Radio City – 1500 N. Vine Street
Site where NBC’s West Coast headquarters were once located and where many famous radio shows originated with stars like Bob Hope and Jack Benny.

Site of Paul DeLongpre Home – Hollywood Boulevard and Cahuenga Avenue
Hollywood’s first tourist attraction housed a famous French artist.

Site of TAV Celebrity Theatre – 1529 Vine Street
The Merv Griffin Show, Jeapardy, The Dating Game and Hollywood Squares all originated here. It was ABC’s first West Coast Studios.

Site of the Vine Street Brown Derby

1628 Vine Street

The most famous restaurant of its day was where all the power players hung out, and where Clark Gable proposed to Carole Lombard. During Hollywood’s Golden Age, celebrities and dealmakers frequented the Brown Derby restaurants. There were franchises in Beverly Hills, Los Feliz, and the original location on Wilshire Boulevard at one time. However, it was the location at 1628 N. Vine Street that had the greatest impact on film history.

Brown Derby Vine Street Hollwood
Brown Derby on Vine St. just south of Hollywood Blvd during the 1950s; image via Facebook

Hundreds of caricatures of movie stars adorned the walls, and many of them could be seen dining there on any given night. Clark Gable took a break from filming Gone With the Wind in 1939 to propose to Carole Lombard in one of the booths. The Cobb Salad, named after owner Bob Cobb, is also said to have originated at the Hollywood Brown Derby. Despite being iconic, the Hollywood location closed in 1985, and only a portion of its facade remains today.

Site of Wallich’s Music City – 1501 Vine Street
The famous music store that was first to display records in cellophane and first to have demonstration rooms.

Studio Building – 6554 Hollywood Boulevard
An example of Spanish Colonia Revival architecture with Churrigeresque detail.

Taft Building

1680 Vine Street

Hollywood’s first high rise building, built in 1924 once housed the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. The intersection of Hollywood and Vine was once popular with prostitutes, but it is now home to the Taft Building, a 12-story office building where some of the silent era’s biggest stars wrote and conceived their films. A.Z. Taft Jr., a local businessman, constructed the town’s first high-rise in 1923 to accommodate the burgeoning film industry. The newly constructed Taft Building housed all of the movers and shakers, including Charlie Chaplin and Will Rogers. Despite the fact that the Taft Building is mostly occupied by practitioners and small business owners today, it has become a part of the burgeoning Hollywood revitalization. A 5-star W Hotel is being built around the Taft and is set to open on December 9, 2009.

The Broadway Department Store – 1645 S. Vine Street
The famous department store that was first to introduce women’s slacks.

The Cherokee Building – 6646 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood’s first retail building designed to cater to motorists, with a motor court.

Vine Street Theatre

1615 Vine Street

Lux Radio Theater and Your Hit Parade were both broadcast from this theater.

Vine Street Theatre
Vine Street Theatre (today the Montalbán Theater) located at 1615 North Vine Street; image via Water and Power

This theater is frequently confused with other Hollywood theaters, most notably the Hollywood Playhouse at 1735 Vine Street, which became famous as the Hollywood Palace TV show venue in the 1960s. One block to the north, that theater still remains. The Ricardo Montalban Theater has even been confused with the nearby former Jerry Lewis Theater and El Capitan Theater.

Warner Pacific Theatre – 6423 Hollywood Boulevard
Warner Bros. crown jewel flagship theatre, where Carol Burnett was an usherette in the 1940’s.

Stay in Hollywood

The Renaissance Hotel, located adjacent to the Hollywood and Highland Center, outperforms the competition with its spectacular view, glamorous design, and spacious rooms. Twist, the popular luxury restaurant, serves fresh sushi and California-fusion cuisine. Check into the famed Roosevelt Hotel to wander back to your room after a night of partying at Teddy’s or any of the other fashionable bars inside its walls.

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