Weekend Word Wrap: Hollywood

David K. Israel

Seems the last week we've had so many posts related to Tinseltown, it made sense to me to finish the week with a look at one word: "Hollywood," well, not so much the word itself, but the word-sign, mounted up in the Hollywood Hills.

It all started in the late 1800s, with an agricultural community, when a fella named Harvey Henderson Wilcox bought 160 hilly acres of land in the countryside to the west of Los Angeles.

Though no one can agree on how the word Hollywood became associated with Wilcox's land, one of the more interesting stories has Mrs. Wilcox appropriating the name from a lady stranger she got to know on a train trip who'd frequently referred to a country home she owned called "Hollywood."

Slowly, the agricultural community became a real estate development and it's from that phase that we get the well-known Hollywood sign. Erected in the early 1920s, it originally read "Hollywoodland"—acting as one gigantic advertisement for the development.

There's a fantastic website with a detailed timeline and all sorts of interesting photos of the sign in construction. I'd have posted some of their photos, but they're part of a Flash slide-show. I'd urge you go check it out here, really worth seeing.