Hollywood is a Paradise Planned

Hello.  I’m back, after a month of travels. More on that later. Now, before returning to my month-by-month-in-Hollywood format, I’m eager to tell you about an exciting honor that Joseph W. Young’s city has received.


In 2013 after many years of research, architect Robert A. M. Stern, Dean of the School of architecture at Yale University, with David Fishman and Jacob Tilove, published a grand tome called Paradise Planned. The Garden Suburb and the Modern City. IMG_1517

This hefty tome of 1,072 pages weighs twelve and one half pounds (I weighed it)IMG_1532.

The authors selected hundreds of cities in both America and Europe, covering the history of the garden city from the 19th century to 1940 with photos, maps, and plans, and detailed scholarly text.

And I’m delighted to say that in a section entitled FLORIDA. A NATIONAL WINTER SUBURB, our Hollywood is given a page and five illustrations.

(courtesy of the Hollywood Historical Society). Hollywood in Paradises Planned 2013


Stern, et al, p. 343. 1. Young’s plan for Hollywood. 2. Hollywood Hotel, later the Park View Hotel, 1923, Rubush & Hunter. 3. Jackson Street in Hollywood, 1924. 4. Aerial view of Hollywood looking east from the 3rd circle. 5. Aerial view of Hollywood looking west from Young Circle downtown.

This is a grand tribute to Hollywood as a city planned in 1920 by one man, J. W. Young, Jr.  The other Florida cities included in that section are Palm Beach as designed by Paris Singer and Addison Mizner starting c. 1921, Coral Gables, begun by George Merrick in 1921, Addison Mizner’s Boca Raton, begun in 1925, Opa Locka (1925), Hialeah (1921), and Miami Springs (1924).

As I have documented in my biography of Young Young cover Joseph W. Young, Jr. and the City Beautiful (McFarland, 2013)  he drew the first plan for Hollywood in 1920, expanding on his earlier plan for Rainbow Ridge in Speedway, Indiana, and influenced by Carl Fisher’s choice of Miami Beach in 1915 for his development. Incidentally, my Young biography was published in 1913, the same year as Paradise Planned, so neither of us had the opportunity to read or cite each other’s texts before publication.

Left, Young’s early plan for Hollywood with Hollywood Boulevard intersected by 2 of the 3 circles, North and South Lake, and the beach island. Heavy line near the center indicates the Dixie Highway paralleling the FEC Rail Road

Hwd plan 1920                IMG_1536

Right, Young’s plan for his Speedway, Indiana development called Rainbow Ridge, with a central circle, 1919. The circle was never implemented. (Photo Courtesy of Marion County Property Assessors Office.)

The authors of Paradise Planned described Young’s plan for Hollywood, and quote his “precisely worked out” strategy: wide boulevard, lakes created from mangrove lowland, a business section, parks, schools, churches, golf course, a “city for everyone, from the ocean to the Everglades.”

They recognize Young’s knowledge of good zoning. They describe the buildings that Young proposed to have built in his central city as “Spanish style,” recognizing that for Young this chiefly meant California Spanish Mission Revival style.

They also note Young’s development of Liberia, “a new town for African-Americans, consisting of forty square blocks around a circular park.”

Liberia planThe circle is named here Dunbar Park, honoring a black poet, Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906).  The arrangement of the ovoid island site for a hotel is the reverse of a similar arrangement in downtown Hollywood, with the hotel island on the east side of the Circle. For more on Liberia see my Young biography pp. 94-95.

If Liberia had had the opportunity to take root, it might well have been only the second all African-American city in then-segregated Florida, after Eatonville.

Oddly enough, there is no mention of Daniel Burnham’s City Beautiful concept, which spread across the US after 1909 and influenced some city planners. For example, the city of Miami had given some thought to becoming a “City Beautiful” around 1915. Young, as I have indicated, considered his Hollywood to be in line with Burnham’s City Beautiful precepts.

Some small bloopers in Paradise (pardon the pun) include the description of the city being bisected by “the Federal Highway,” which did not appear in South Florida until the 1930s at which time it ran through Hollywood on 18th Avenue. Later attempts to have US 1 bisect Young Circle were thwarted when city residents resisted. The main–and only–North-South route through future Hollywood when Young bought the land in 1920 was the Dixie Highway, built by Carl Fisher to bring automobile travelers down from Chicago and Indiana to his Miami Beach. The Dixie passed through future Hollywood in 1915.

Another misinterpretation of original Hollywood is the statement that Young intended the third circle as the site of a military academy “before terminating [the boulevard] in the west at Riverside, a radial plan neighborhood where Young intended to maximize the value of his property with a hotel.”

As we know, the second, or middle circle, was planned as City Hall Circle, and so it remains, while the third circle was planned as the site of a grand hotel to match the grand hotel at the opposite end of Hollywood Boulevard, the Beach Hotel. The hotel at the west end was called the Hollywood Hills Inn, built in 1925, and Young called the “radial plan neighborhood” Hollywood Hills, as it remains today.

Hills Inn 1925 as Riverside 1930s  IMG_1542

Left, Young’s Hollywood Hills Inn, constructed in 1925 at the west terminus of Hollywood Boulevard, became the winter quarters of the Riverside Military Academy in 1931. Postcard.

Right, Young’s magnum opus, the Hollywood Beach Hotel, 1925, at the east terminus of Hollywood Boulevard at the Atlantic Ocean. Rubush & Hunter, architects. Postcard.

When the national Depression ended the Boom in Hollywood, the Hills Inn stood empty until 1931 when General Sandy Beaver bought it as the winter home of his boys school, the Riverside Military Academy from Gainsville, Georgia.

But these are minor quibbles compared to reading about our Hollywood together with so many other beautiful cities on two continents. Given the scope of this major work, which will be a classic reference on the subject of cities and city planning, it is a great honor for J. W. Young’s Hollywood to be included.  When visitors to the Hollywood Historical Society tell me, as they often do, that they love Hollywood because it is so beautiful and so friendly, I tell them that it was planned that way, back at the beginning in 1920.


Now for a specific June reference. My calendar indicates that on June 4, 1942, the Battle of Midway Island began. This refers to a major naval battle of World War Two, where the US Navy ships and planes overcame the Japanese, and the tide of the war turned in our favor.

It always seems strange to me that for so many people World War Two seems to come to a close with Normandy and the eventual capitulation of the Nazis in 1944, when in fact the US remained at war another year. In some ways the war in the Pacific is more relevant to Hollywood since we were a Navy town for a short time between 1943 and 1944,when the Navy set up training schools in our two major hotels (pictured above) and our streets were filled with young men in white.

Naval Air Gunners mag. 1943

Left, “MUZZLE-BLAST,” a newsletter put out by the Naval Air Gunners School while in residence at the Hollywood Hills Inn/Riverside Military Academy. Dated August 6, 1943. Collection of the Hollywood Historical Society.

In fact the Navy trained in in towns and cities all up and down Florida’s long–and exposed–coast.  As a child I remember following the Pacific battles island to island, and when Japan surrendered in August of 1945, everyone went out in the streets, banging on kitchen pots and pans, and celebrating throughout the night.

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3 Responses to Hollywood is a Paradise Planned

  1. Robert Malec says:

    Another great article. Thank you for sharing your research on my home town. I look forward to reading more about Hollywood.

  2. Diane Wakelyn Macomber says:

    Thank you for all your thorough research of my home town also. My Dad, William Edward Wakelyn, Sr. moved there in 1925 and also helped build a lot of the buildings in that day. I share a lot of your memories and love learning some that I wasn’t aware of. Please continue to share these treasures with all of us.

  3. Wonder if you are interested in writing about the history of Historic Hollywood Beach Resort. You can find article about the history of the historic resort at http://www.historichollywoodbeachresort.com/our-hotel/history-of-hollywood-beach-resort.html

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