Hollywood is a part of Los Angeles, California, and for many years the center of the American motion picture and television industries. It was named by a Mrs. Deida Wilcox, the wife of a Kansas City real estate man, who in 1886 retired with her husband to a huge ranch that stood on the site. In 1891 they began dividing their land and in 1903 the growing community was incorporated as a village, retaining the original name of the ranch, Hollywood. In 1910, Hollywood was annexed to Los Angeles so that it could avail itself of the city's water supply and sewage system.
In the early days of American cinema, the center of film production was New York City (Westerns were shot in the wilderness of New Jersey), with some activity taking place in Chicago and other American cities. Southern California, with its eternal sunshine and variety of terrain, attracted occasional film production. In 1907, Col. William N. Selig, Edison's chief rival, moved part of his company from Chicago to Los Angeles, soon to become the first producer to make films regularly on the West Coast. In 1909 he opened California's first large motion picture studio, on Los Angeles' Mission Road. But the greatest impetus to the growth of Hollywood was provided in 1913 by a man named Cecil B. De Mille. Earlier that year he had entered a partnership with Jesse L. Lasky and glove salesman Samuel Goldfish (later Sam Goldwyn), forming the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company. They purchased the rights to a Western novel, The Squaw Man, and De Mille and (co-director) Oscar C. Apfel were dispatched to Flagstaff, Ariz., to do the shooting on location.
Finding the snow-capped Arizona mountains unsuitable for their story, De Mille and Apfel got back on the train and continued to the end of the line. And that's how they stumbled upon Hollywood. They found the small town to be peaceful and pastoral, surrounded by acres of citrus and avocado groves. They converted a large stable into a studio and began their production, shooting the exteriors in the nearby countryside. Within months, other producers followed, partly because of the inviting climate but largely to escape the long reach of the Motion Picture Patents Company, the huge eastern trust that tried to force all small, independent producers out of the film business.
In 1917 the Patents Company was disbanded by government antitrust action, and Hollywood was well on its way to becoming the movie capital of America and a cosmopolitan Mecca of a rapidly growing show business industry. By 1920, thanks to the phenomenal growth of several major studios and the emergence of the star system, Hollywood was turning out nearly 800 films annually, and its name became a synonym for luxury, glamour, and illusory magic.
Hollywood remained the world's greatest dream factory through the late 40s, when its supremacy began to be threatened by a growing tendency of producers and stars to seek tax shelters by filming abroad. At the same time, the emergence of television as a competitor drastically cut into cinema audiences. This and government antitrust action that forced major studios to divest themselves of their chains of motion picture theaters combined to undermine the financial basis of many large companies. By the early 60s, the era of independent production, based on individual packaging, was firmly established and is now the world´s leading filmproducing place.
Hollywood has no set physical boundaries. Many of the studios are located in other communities, some many miles away. It has always been and will continue to be a state of mind, a dream shared by millions, rather than a mere place where movies are made.