After a long hiatus I’m back to work on the blog. My biography of J. W. Young, founder of Hollywood, Florida has been published, Joseph W. Young, Jr. and the City Beautiful is the title. It’s available at the usual book channels.
For more about it see my website
So before the month is over, I’ll quickly cover some events that took place in March. In a way, Hollywood history began in March, 1845 when the new state of Florida entered the union. So when Young arrived in our state, it was nearly 75 years old. Narrowing it down, our county, Broward County, was established just four years before Young arrived, in April of 1915.
Well before that both Dania to the north of future Hollywood, and Hallandale to the south, were established as farm communities along Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Rail Way. While Dania was settled by Danish-Americans, Hallandale was settled by Swedes from Sweden. It was named for Luther Halland who had a connection to Flagler. In March of 1897 Halland sent over to Sweden to invite settlers to southeast Florida, where the farmer would be “safe from frost.” I mention this because people today seem to think that Hallandale has some connection to Holland and the Dutch. One of the Swedish immigrants was Olof Zetterlund, who bought a great deal of the empty land around Hallandale, then sold large parcels to J. W. Young including one mile of the pristine beach island and four hundred acres of upland, in 1921.
Another March event, before Hollywood existed, was the incorporation of Miami Beach, in 1915. It wasn’t quite empty sand dunes as there was a population of 150. By then Carl Fisher had begun his Alton Beach Realty Company, planning to develop an upscale resort (as we would say today). And on March 15, 1919 Fisher announced the construction of his Flamingo Hotel on Miami Beach, facing the bay. This had a direct affect on Young, who would soon hire Fisher’s architects, Rubush & Hunter, to design his first hotel.
So where was the founder of Hollywood, Florida before 1920? Since 1902, Joseph Young had been living in Long Beach, California, a city he loved, and from which he garnered many ideas about city building. In March of 1906, when he was just 22, he was a partner in the Young-Parmley Investment Company, selling real estate, with offices in Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Alamitos Bay. He was also an active member of Elks Lodge 888. Through the Elks Young met other movers and shakers in Long Beach, including Herbert Horkheimer who with his brother operated Balboa Picture Studios making silent films right in central Long Beach. Horkheimer is mentioned in a March 1916 Elks booklet.
The silent film industry was thriving in Long Beach while Young lived there, well before a small development in Los Angeles had become a site for movie-making. For a detailed account of the movie industry in Long Beach, I highly recommend Balboa Films. A History and Filmography of the Silent Film Studio, by Jean-Jacques Jura and Rodney Norman Bardin II. Interestingly, in March, 1920, David Selznick was in Miami Beach making a film called “The Flapper.” Other films were made in Fort Lauderdale. But there is no indication that J. W. Young had any particular interest in movies, nor did he build a sound stage, as someone suggested to me.
Young did build a city, and by March, 1923 it was referred to as “Hollywood by-the-Sea” in a full-page ad in the Miami Times-Union. Also in March of 1923 President Warren Harding came to the infant city of Hollywood for a game of golf and lunch at the handsome Hollywood Hotel (soon renamed Park View Hotel), the one designed for Young by Rubush & Hunter. At the time Young himself was away on business and this particular coup was pulled off by his head of publications, Oliver Behymer, who had known Harding when both were lecturers on the Chautauqua circuit in the middle west. After his Florida visit Harding proceeded on to the Pacific northwest where he died suddenly in August, 1923. He was, of course, succeeded by Calvin Coolidge.
Young had named Hollywood’s streets for U.S. presidents, beginning at the south side of his then holdings with Washington. Young’s north border was apparently somewhat fluid as he was able to add Coolidge Street there after Harding, but
Coolidge was the last president to be represented along Hollywood’s streets.
I’ll end here before the month of March ticks away, and promise more pictures for April.