Hello again, and sorry for the year-long interruption. In the interim I completed the manuscript for my biography of J. W. Young, the founder of Hollywood, Florida, and sold it to McFarland & Company, Inc., publishers. The book, Joseph W. Young, Jr. and the City Beautiful. A Biography of the Founder of Hollywood, Florida, is in the process of being designed and edited. I will certainly announce the publication date as soon as I have it.
The blog’s new format will focus for now on facts about early Hollywood.
1920. Young buys the empty land between the city of Dania and the farming community of Hallandale with the intention of creating an entire city. From the start he has the plan of his dream city in mind.
Picture this: a strip of land with nothing on it but palmetto and jack pines, between two small farm communities. Occasionally a steam locomotive puffs through, heading south to Miami with its load of passengers. Running parallel to the tracks is a narrow, rough strip of road only completed five years earlier, in 1915. This is the Dixie Highway. On it automobilists come bumping along in their flivvers and runabouts, drawn by the promise of adventure in the tropical city of Miami and its new neighbor, Miami Beach.
Now picture a tall, stout, dark-haired man dressed in heavy boots and hiking gear walking all over this rough acreage, particularly the area between the tracks and the Inland Waterway. Beyond the waterway is a pristine sand island of dunes, mangrove and sea grape, and beyond that the blue Atlantic Ocean.
This is not isolated wilderness. The small farm community to the north is already incorporated as the city of Dania and has well-built one and two-story frame dwellings and stores, even a bank. Farther north is the larger city of Fort Lauderdale with its beautiful New River, which bills itself as “The Gateway to the Everglades.” The two Miamis are only ten miles south and growing fast, with tall buildings and paved streets, very cosmopolitan and finance oriented, and eager to attract new investors.
The dark-haired man has a plan He, J. W. Young, has been developing properties for over a decade, in California, Arizona, and Indiana. Now he wants to create an entire city, a beautiful city filled with comforts for its citizens, along the lines of the City Beautiful movement begun in Chicago in 1909 by renowned architect and city planner, Daniel Burnham. In Indianapolis Young learned about what auto racer, entrepreneur and headline-maker Carl Fisher was doing, creating the resort of Miami Beach on the barrier island across the bay from Miami. To get people to his resort Fisher brought the Dixie Highway into existence in 1915 so that Midwesterners could drive from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and thereabouts to his Miami Beach. Young was one of those captured by Fisher’s lures (he took the train in 1919). Convinced that south Florida is the coming place, Young buys the empty land between Dania and Hallandale as the site for his dream city. He calls it Hollywood simply because he likes the name.
Young’s creation did not begin simply as a housing development that expanded to become a city. Instead, Hollywood was a planned city from its earliest beginnings.
1921. The hundred-foot-wide Boulevard is the first element to be started, leading from the Dixie Highway and Florida East Coast railroad tracks eastward through Young’s intended Downtown area to the ten-acre Circle Park (today’s Young Circle).
Surveying the city boundaries, the Boulevard, and the streets continues through 1921, and by summer of 1922 twenty-five miles of paved streets and fifty miles of sidewalks are in place. These are in the Downtown and Central sections (Central is today’s Parkside). The Lakes section has yet to be drained.
1922. Lots sell quickly and individuals and contractors begin to build homes, but there is a serious need for temporary housing for visitors and prospective buyers. Young anticipated this even before clearing his land, and by summer of 1922 the Hollywood Hotel is under construction, situated on its own four acres intersecting the Boulevard, just to the east of Circle Park. The site is now occupied by a Publix and other shops. The hundred-room hotel was designed by the Indiana architects Rubush & Hunter. Still paying close attention to what Fisher was up to Young hired the same architects that had designed Fisher’s ten-story Flamingo Hotel that opened in late 1919 on the Biscayne Bay side of Miami Beach. Rubush & Hunter were soon deeply involved in building design for Hollywood.
Young’s publicity describes the Hollywood Hotel (soon renamed the Park View Hotel) as gracefully elongated, of Spanish Renaissance design facing the Circle and with Moorish effects such as a dome on the ocean side. Lights encircling the dome can be seen for miles around at night over the cleared land, beckoning to travelers on the Dixie to turn up the Boulevard and investigate the new town and this handsome attraction.
In May, 1922 Young’s publicity notes that there would not be any light or telephone poles on the streets of the city. Instead, in the business section (and later on the beach) all wires are underground. Elsewhere the poles are in the alleys between the streets.
To be continued.