We are still covering early Hollywood in July, about 1921 to 1924.
Young was ahead of most of his fellow south Florida city builders in that he considered the Atlantic beach a major attraction. He had already experienced beach development while he lived in Long Beach, California from 1905 to 1915, and of course he had a Florida predecessor in Henry Flagler, who put hist grand hotels right on the Atlantic or on the bay front in Miami. So in 1921 while he was just clearing the first square mile in future downtown Hollywood, straddling Flagler’s railroad and Fisher’s Dixie Highway, Young made his first purchase of beach land. This was the central portion of the barrier island that fronted his future city, which he immediately began to advertise as “Hollywood By-the-Sea.”
This 1922 photo from Tony Mickelson’s collection shows J. W. Young and business colleagues in suits and hats, their large expensive autos parked on the dune at the east end of Johnson Street while the men walk down to the Atlantic shoreline. When Young bought the land on the island it was pristine with no roads or even campers. From the Estate of Tony Mickelson.
Immediately Young began to lay out his plans for the beach island, noting that it would take three years to complete them. First to be installed on the long, narrow sand dune would be a “trade mark and publicity feature as in Atlantic City,” a “boardwalk.” Next there would be a “gigantic pier,” followed by a Tent City modeled on the California plan, then a large hotel, and a drive connecting our city to Carl Fisher’s Miami Beach. The “boardwalk” was quickly changed to a Broad Walk, made of pink cement much resembling the similar beach walk in Long Beach CA. (Has Hollywood trademarked our “Broadwalk” I wonder?)
Always in a rush Young wanted to see how his palmetto and sand dunes would translate into a paved and thriving city so he had an artist create an imaginary view of the future “Hollywood By-the-Sea.” Probably his photographer Bobby Yale flew over the site at Johnson Street and took some aerial photos after which an unnamed artist drew up a visionary city of the future.
Hollywood by the Sea. The Dream City a Reality.
Well, sort of. Here is the beach at Johnson Street with the planned swimming casino slightly to the north (bottom center) instead of south, and a wholly imaginary pier.
The drawing below is from the same flier, showing the city from the east. Bottom right is the proposed bathing casino at Johnson Street, which Young did erect. The enormous pier, which was never erected, seems to go out from a street between Johnson and the Boulevard. Keep in mind that the Lakes Section had not yet been created; therefore North and South Lakes do not appear. The larger building in the upper center is the Park View Hotel overlooking Circle Park (Young Circle). As this building did exist it allows us to identify Hollywood Boulevard, and along the horizon, the FEC railroad. The big complex of industry or apartments at the upper right did not exist then, or ever. In fact most of the structures are imaginary. But fun to contemplate.
The home pictured below was the first house to be occupied in Hollywood, by Mr. and Mrs. George Roden of Toronto, Canada, in 1922. It was built by the Harry K. Bastian Company from a design by architects Rubush & Hunter at 1901 Madison Street. The house has been demolished.
Both images from a brochure given to the Hollywood Historical Society by the Boca Raton Historical Society.
Of the other planned attractions, Tent City will be discussed in a later post. As mentioned previously, Ocean Drive/A1A now does connect Hollywood to Miami Beach. As for the planned grand hotel, it was further described as modeled after the Virginia Hotel in Long Beach CA, called one of the most deluxe hostelries on the Pacific Coast, second only to Flagler’s Royal Palm Hotel in Miami. This of course would be the Hollywood Beach Hotel, but in July, 1922, its future site could not be reached by land vehicle at that time. It took three more years to extend Ocean Drive south, and at the same time fill the East Marsh sufficiently to extend Hollywood Boulevard east and then erect a bridge. It’s fascinating to realize that except for the pier which was never constructed, Young had all the other elements in place in the proposed three years, that is, in 1925.
Also in July, 1922 ten-acre Circle Park, now Young Circle, was intended to be a garden with pleasant walks and a music pavilion, a central park to make Hollywood’s citizens proud.
Moving along, by July of 1924 Hollywood was very much an integral part of the Boom. One indication was the increase in property values. Lots on the Boulevard downtown had increased since 1922 from $1,000 to $6,000 and even as high as $11,000 for a 25-foot business lot. On the Dixie Highway’s west side (the main north-south route through Hollywood) a corner lot went from $1,980 to $12,000. On the beach, ocean frontage which began to sell in 1923 at $4,500 was selling a year later for $10,000 to $12,000 and some lots were simply not for sale. A lot facing Circle Park in 1924 was bought for $7,600 and that owner was turning down offers for $30,000 and up. For comparison note that the average annual salary in the U.S. in 1924 was $1,200 to $1,400. By 1924 J. W. Young was earning and spending millions.
Hollywood was being advertised throughout the U.S. with numerous publications. Young’s company had sales offices all over, from Toronto and Boston, to Chicago and St. Louis, Atlanta and Jacksonville, New York, and ….. Atlantic City, New Jersey. In the early Twenties it was still a family resort, and Young enjoyed it so much that he himself spent time there, with a telephone installed in the office on the Board Walk.
Note the Mission Revival-style roof line, Young’s architecture of choice.
[OK, I’ve been trying for 4 hours now to insert a photo of the interior of Young’s office on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Same document, same camera, but it refuses to upload.] The interior photo of the Atlantic City office shows a large room with what could be church pews facing a low stage. Interior columns have a palm frond design on the ceiling. Along the walls are enormous blowup photos of the Park View Hotel, and looking across Circle Park to the same hotel. It’s quite likely that this interior was similar to Young’s office in Miami, and both were designed by his eldest son, John Marshall Young, called Jack.
Young not only had many offices, he also had many companies beginning with Home Seekers Realty and the Hollywood Land & Water Company. He continually expanded his empire by creating related “companies” for various facets of his business, such as Hollywood Securities, Hollywood Light & Power, Hollywood Publishing Company, and Hollywood Insurance Agency. But have you heard of Young’s Hollywood Boat and Transportation Company? Here is its story: Young needed numerous dredges, pontoons and barges while creating the land for the eastern portion of Hollywood. In 1924 he paid $90,000 for a large dredge that worked on North Lake and elsewhere. He then decided it would cost less if he were to build his own barges and pontoons. On the Miami River he found an empty lot where he erected several boat sheds. The largest was 36 feet high, by 100 feet by 40 feet. There he installed the “Hollywood Boat and Transportation Company.”
J. W. Young’s boat works on the Miami River, 1924. In the right foreground is one of the 60-some White touring buses he owned, with doors for each row of seats.
There appears to be the bow of a boat lurking within this shed, not at all resembling a dredge or barge. Young loved boats, and at this time he and wife Jessie lived on an enormous houseboat (before they built the house on Hollywood Boulevard). Now that he had a boat-building enterprise and plenty of money, Young took the opportunity to build a yacht for himself, and why not?
This vessel was 102 feet in length. It had six staterooms with baths, a 40-foot deckhouse, dining room, library, and pilot house, and would require a crew of eight. When it was launched, it would be christened the Jessie Faye.
Unless otherwise noted, images are courtesy of William Schaaf.
Now I’ll take a break until later in August. If you have any photos of Hollywood in the 1920s that you would like to see on this blog, please send them!