To anyone who knows Hollywood history the month of September suggests the disastrous 1926 hurricane. As the storm hit on September 17-18, I’ll have more to say about it in the next post. Before that, let’s look at the state of the new city prior to that storm.
If you have come to the Research Center of the Hollywood Historical Society you have seen the hundreds of photos of the growth of Hollywood from bare land in 1921 to a city with a downtown business section, solid homes in the Central and Lakes sections, six major hotels and numerous apartment buildings, a beautiful railroad station, and autos, trucks and buses by the hundreds. The first residents had moved into their Hollywood home in 1922. Late in 1925 Young had his development incorporated as a city, which then had a mayor, city commission, police and fire departments, a handsome public school, and so on. I mention all this because it is sometimes difficult to envision how rapidly Young’s city grew. I’ve had people suggest to me that the Beach Hotel was lit by candles, and that in 1926 there were no permanent structures and everyone was living in tents. This is a long way from reality. As there were some 25,000 people in Hollywood by 1926, that would have been an awful lot of tents.
An article by D. C. Nevin the The Hollywood Reporter of September, 1923 (“The Growth of Cities”) points out that Hollywood had been “artificially determined and located,” that is, planned, as few other cities had been. Nevin calls Hollywood by-the-Sea a modern made-to-order city with all that is best in city planning, and designed to glorify the natural beauty of the landscape. Nevin was one of Young’s best lecturer/salesmen so he might be expected to praise his employer, but he was correct that Hollywood was planned from the start. A somewhat less biased reporter who called himself “Rambles” nosed around the city and observed light and water plants–so much for candlelit hotels. And an editorial in the same September 1923 issue mentions businesses such as the Hollywood Builders’ Supply lumber yards and the Concrete Block and Tile Mill–there go the tents–and went into detail about the forthcoming railroad station which was to extend over 425 feet along the FEC tracks with a main building sporting a tower, and side wings. The architects’ drawing, by Rubush & Hunter, is included in this issue of the Reporter.
Central tower of the Hollywood railroad station on the FEC tracks, designed by Rubush & Hunter and begun in 1923. The first passenger train stopped here April 6, 1924. The entire drawing stretched over several pages in the magazine.
From the Hollywood Reporter, v. 2, no. 9, Sept. 1923
J. W. Young. Each August 4th Hollywood residents can celebrate the birth of the city’s founder, Joseph W. Young, Jr., born in 1882 in what was then Washington Territory. His progress to and after the creation of Hollywood is described in my forthcoming biography Joseph W. Young, Jr. and the City Beautiful. A Biography of the Founder of Hollywood, Florida (McFarland & Company Publishing, Inc. Due Fall/Winter). In honor of the recent Founder’s Day, here is a description of Young in August, 1923, “The President of the Hollywood Company, The Moving Spirit Behind the Organization.” Stating that “the personality of the president is inseparable from the organization he controls,” the author calls Young “a vital, energizing, directive force. He continues that Young is not only the city’s builder but also the originator, planner, and financier, and notes that the “beautiful vistas and magnificent buildings that now greet the visitor” are a tribute to the “contagious enthusiasm of one man’s ideals.”
If prospects for Hollywood were so good in 1923, they were even better in September, 1926. Then the hurricane hit.
More about that in the next post.
Hollywood Reporters courtesy of William Schaaf.