Hollywood Boulevard

How did Hollywood get its name? There are many theories; somewhere between zero and one of them is true. First, the facts: The Wilcoxes, Harvey (1832-1891) and Daeida (née Ida Hartell, 1861-1914), were Midwestern transplants who bought 120 acres of the Cahuenga Valley in 1886. They branded it “Hollywood” and began developing a pious, teetotaling farm community here. (Nice try.) Back then, Hollywood Blvd. was still called Prospect Ave. It became known by its current name in 1901 and was officially changed in 1910 when the city of Hollywood was annexed by Los Angeles. As for the source of the name, there’s an oft-told tale that a woman sitting next to Ida Wilcox on a train told her about her Chicago-area summer home called “Hollywood” – and Ida took note. In his 1938 book History of Hollywood, longtime resident Dr. Edwin O. Palmer insisted that Ida told him this story herself, but that alone doesn’t make it true. It’s equally possible that she was inspired by the California holly growing in the nearby canyons. (Her neighbor Ivar Weid may have had a hand in this.) More recently, a theory crediting H.J. Whitley with the Hollywood name has been aggressively promoted by his great-granddaughter. It’s easily debunked, as Whitley was nowhere near California in the 1880s.