Greetings for 2014!


Let me begin with an observation, or perhaps it’s a pet peeve.  Has anyone else noticed that more and more buildings in south Florida are being described as “Art Deco”?  This catchy term which was used to save the mostly International Modern or Streamline Moderne buildings on Miami Beach has now spread like measles, so that buildings that are clearly Mission Revival or Mid-century Modern, or even plain Center-entrance Colonial are now touted as “Art Deco,” chiefly by real estate folks.  Well, once something becomes generic, it loses its glamor, or so let’s hope.

A wonderful reference for anyone interested in American architecture is Virginia & Lee McAlester’s A Field Guide to American Houses. A new expanded edition has just come out which brings the study up to the present date.


J. W. Young did not build any Art Deco structures in Hollywood. He did set standards for architecture in his city, and the styles he preferred were California Spanish Mission Revival, the far-southwest adobe, and the bungalow as interpreted by the Greene brothers of Pasadena. HollywoodCentral-BrCoHistCommColl

Hollywood Central School, designed by Rubush & Hunter, 1925, in the Mission Revival style with its long swooping parapet, bell niche, and emphasized triple-arch entrance with balcony reference above.  Hollywood Historical Society photo.                                                                            bungalows

No photo of the rare adobe style homes in Hollywood has been located.

At right, 3 homes in the California bungalow style on Monroe Street, 1600 block, built in 1924 and still standing. Note the steep pitched roof over a deep porch supported by pillars, with a central dormer above. Hollywood Historical Society photo.

Now to January events:


When Young chose the Hollywood site in 1920, one of the transportation routes through the property was the Inland Waterway, or Intracoastal Waterway. Creating this inland water route took many years, finally reaching Biscayne Bay in January, 1896, according to William Crawford, Jr. in articles and his book Florida’s Big Dig: The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway from Jacksonville to Miami, 1881 to 1935.  Young would later make use of this convenient passageway to bring prospective land buyers to his city. tour boat landing Miami Beach

Young had his own dock on the Waterway in Miami Beach. Here, well-dressed visitors ride on the roof of his tour boat “Hollywood by the Sea,” with others at the stern or inside the curtained windows. Upon leaving Miami, their trip northward will take them through vast expanses of empty land.

Canal, sightseers from Miami on Southland, May 24, 31 billImagine the reaction of the passengers when they arrived at the “dock” in Hollywood, a few boards, pipes, and a hungry group of salesmen in plus-fours waiting to pounce. No doubt there were several of Young’s handsome White buses ready to take the prospective buyers to the built-up parts of the city. This spot might be where Young would build the future Boulevard bridge across the Intracoastal.


Probably the key figure who induced Young to consider south Florida as the setting for his planned city was Carl Fisher of Indianapolis (where Young lived from 1918-24).

Fisher was born January 12, 1874 in Greensburg, Indiana (making him only eight years older than Young). In February, 1910 Fisher and his young wife Jane traveled to Miami by train for the first time, where they bought the Alonso Bliss house, calling it “Shadows.”

On January 23, 1913, according to the Miami Herald, Fisher bought 200 acres of [Miami] beach from John Collins. In 1915 Fisher created the Dixie Highway, to bring motorists from Chicago and all along the route down to his Miami Beach resort.

In January, 1919, another name came into prominence as a creator of south Florida style. This was Addison Mizner, architect of the Palm Beach Everglades Club, which opened at that time.


On or about January 2,1920, J. W. Young with his sales associate Ed Whitson traveled by train from Indianapolis to Miami. On that day Henry Flagler’s southernmost hotel, the Royal Palm, opened for its 23rd season. Perhaps Young and Whitson stayed there.

Royal Palm Hotel Yacht Basin & Miami RiverAt right, postcard caption reads : Royal Palm Yacht Basin and Miami River, Miami, Florida.  Probably from the mid-1920s. The number of yachts suggests that Miami was already a center of wealth when Young was building Hollywood.

For more about what was happening in our area when Young first arrived, see my book Joseph W. Young, Jr. and the City Beautiful: A Biography of the Founder of Hollywood, Florida.

January, 1924.  Just three years after Young first envisioned his dream city and began buying the land, his Hollywood Land & Water Company issued a promotional brochure describing their progress.  The brochure said: “A million dollars worth of buildings and public improvements have been completed. A big hotel and golf course are open; there are many miles of paved streets, sidewalks, curbing and parkways completed. 60 families live permanently in Hollywood, which has 15 stores and business places open; electric light and water systems are in full operation. A Chamber of Commerce with 40 members, and a Woman’s Club with 25 members are organized. 20 children are in school.”

Reporter Sept. 1923 back coverAt right: The “big hotel” in 1922-23 was the first hotel built by Young, the Hollywood Hotel, overlooking the downtown circle. It was later called the Parkview Hotel. The handsome, Mission-inspired structure had 100 rooms, including a dining room. From Young’s Hollywood Reporter magazine.

circle park 1922 or 23At left: This view of  Young Circle, then called Central Park or The Circle, is from the tower of the Hollywood Hotel, seen above, looking west to the Downtown area. When Young had my father, Tony Mickelson, first lay out the circle, in 1922, it was a muddy field of green beans grown by a Dania farmer.circle & hotel as gardens

At left is a drawing of Young’s vision for his “Central Park” and the island surrounding the Hollywood Hotel, as a botanical garden, hence the claim of a “park of rare beauty.” None of the plantings actually existed when the drawing was made in 1923.

downtown Jan 1923

At right, downtown Hollywood 91 years ago, in January, 1923. In the foreground, the FEC railroad tracks, in the center distance, the Hollywood (Park View) Hotel. The Boulevard is rock-covered; circle park doesn’t yet have plantings to be seen. At left, Young’s company garage with work trucks (Young’s first building, which soon became shops, and is still standing at 21st Avenue.)

Roden homeThe first 10 homes in Hollywood were built in 1922 by contractor Harry Bastian. Emma and George Roden, Canadians, pictured at left, were the first to purchase a house here. It was at 1901 Madison Street, now gone. But most of the other nine first houses remain in the Parkside area.

The January, 1923 Young company brochure bragged about the city’s utilities, particularly water and electric.  1920s Hollywood was always up to the minute, state-of-the-art.  As in his other developments, Young put in rock-surfaced streets, cement curbs and sidewalks, underground electric lines, city water, and alleys for trash or delivery services. Many homes had covered porte cocheres for automobiles, with garages on the alleys.

J. W. Young's utilities for Hollywood, 1923-25At right, a page from the Young company’s salesmen’s books of photos of the expanding city. Young’s Hollywood Electric Light & Power plant was begun at Buchanan Street and 21st Avenue in 1922. It was sold to Florida Power & Light, which still has facilities there.

Hollywood was fortunate to be sited over at least two underground water sources. The first water plant, completed in February, 1922 was on 18th Avenue between Polk and Taylor Streets (shown here). The plant at the Boulevard and 35th Avenue today was begun in the 1930s.Photo courtesy of the Hollywood Historical Society.

Continuing with January events:

In January, 1926 the Hollywood Beach Hotel, Young’s magnum opus and the eastern culmination of his Boulevard had its opulent grand opening.Beach hotel  lounge

Hollywood Beach Hotel lounge with elaborately painted ceiling beams and pillars, Turkey carpets and upholstered furniture. Note also the large stone fireplace, center left. The area also had a bandstand and a small pipe organ.  No expense was spared as Young sought to rival Flagler’s hotels.


DANIA BECOMES PART OF HOLLYWOOD, BRIEFLY. On January 4th, 1926 the City of Dania, incorporated in 1904, voted to become part of its now larger and seemingly more prosperous neighbor, Hollywood. As Young by that time owned all the land along the waterfront up to and including Lake Mabel (soon to become a port), this in effect put Hollywood on Fort Lauderdale’s border. After the September, 1926 hurricane decimated Hollywood’s fortunes Dania reincorporated itself. But the borders of Hollywood, Dania and Fort Lauderdale have fluctuated a bit since.

YOUNG’S FINAL RETURN. January, 1934.

J. W. and Jessie Young had been living for some time, since about 1927, in the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, and summered near Young’ property in the Adirondacks where Young was building a resort he called Hollywood in the Hills, in Old Forge NY on First Lake. Roosevelt Hotel lobby, NYC, May 2013

Right, lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel in 2013. Built in 1925, the glamorous hotel with its ballroom where Guy Lombardo was band leader, was named for Teddy Roosevelt, of course. The same year my biography of J. W. Young was published, in 2013, the annual meeting of Biographers International was held here.

Hollywood Hills Hotel, Old Forge NY 1940

At left, Hollywood in the Hills, planned as a resort hotel by J. W. Young on First Lake in the Adirondacks. In January 1934 the peeled log walls and the roof were up, but Young did not live to see the building finished. Postcard.

Young had been ill for some time in 1933, so in January of 1934 he and his wife took the train back to Hollywood, where they hoped that the warm sun would cure him. Sadly it did not, and he died the next month, in his home at 1055 Hollywood Boulevard.

For more on Young in New York, see my biography of Young, Chapters 15-17.

Now for some fun:


The name Hollywood for a city is not very original. There are about 18 Hollywoods in the USA, some dating to the 19th century. In the case of Hollywood, Florida, it is generally said that Young named it for the one that is part of Los Angeles, California. Leaving that aside, how did Hollywood, California get its name? I did a good bit of research on that, so I will quote from my book J. W. Young and the City Beautiful: A Biography of the Founder of Hollywood, Florida, page 51. The California site began as a 120-acre piece of land purchased by Horace and Daeida Wilcox in 1883, to develop as “a utopian-like community containing citizens who reflected the Wilcoxes’ own Christian values. They allowed no bars or saloons in their new development. At first it had no name, until Daeida Wilcox took a train back home to the midwest, and met a “well-to-do Illinois woman” who had called her estate “Hollywood” for the verdant holly bushes growing there.  I learned this much from Elizabeth Ellis, author of Hollywood [CA] in Vintage Postcards, when I was in Los Angeles some years ago.  Daeida returned to California to tell Horace that she’d like to name their development Hollywood, even though Horace pointed out that no holly grew there.

Over the next few years I kept poking around, trying to find this Illinois estate and its owner, and one day it came up on the Internet, on a website for the Illinois Hollywood Citizens Association. This property is just north of Chicago and is now part of Brookfield.  And who owned it?  In 1893 it was a gift to Edith Rockefeller from her father John D. Rockefeller upon her marriage to Harold McCormick!  “Well-to-do” doesn’t begin to describe her.

So, to sum up, Hollywood, California was a development named in 1893 by its original developer Daeida Wilcox, who borrowed the name “Hollywood” from an Illinois estate that had been named by its owner, Edith Rockefeller McCormick for the holly bushes that grew there. 

Why did J. W. Young use it?  Because he, like Daeida Wilcox, liked the name.


On January 28, 2014 I will be speaking to members of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce at the Hollywood Historical Society’s Research Center.

On February 20, 2014 I will give a PowerPoint-illustrated talk to members of the Broward County AIA, at 6:00 pm at the Plantation Building Services Department, 401 N. W. 70th Terrace.  Public is welcome, for a small fee.

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  1. Diane Wakelyn Macomber says:

    I love reading all your stories and information about the town where I was born and grew up in. I went to Hollywood Central Elementary School. It was sad to hear when it burned down. It was a beautiful and unique school. I graduated from South Broward High in 1959. My classmates and I meet every 5 years for our class reunions. There are so many of us that started in first grade together at HCES. My father moved to Hollywood in 1925 during a lot of the building boom that you speak of. Would love to meet you some time when I am in Hollywood. I now
    live in Jupiter, FL.

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