I’ve been asked when J. W. Young started calling his city “Hollywood By-the-Sea.” The answer seems to be as soon as he began to publicize his new city. At the time of the first purchases of land in 1920, the available documents show Young named his city as “Hollywood,” which was property owned by the Hollywood Land & Water Company.

What Hollywood, FL looked like in 1920, just palmetto and pines.

What Hollywood, FL looked like in 1920, just palmetto and pines.

At that time the “city” consisted of dry scrub land on either side of the Dixie Highway/FEC railroad tracks.

Dixie Hwy and FEC tracks, looking north, 1922 before April

Dixie Hwy and FEC tracks, looking north, 1922 before April

1921 scenery 6Clearing the land continued through 1920, then the first street, Hollywood Boulevard, and the first 10-acre circle were surveyed beginning in May, 1921.

Certainly by July, 1922 Young’s company newsletter, The Hollywood Reporter, used “Hollywood by-the-Sea Florida” as its subhead. 

Reporter V. 1 No. 2 (No. 1 has not been located) April 15, 1922

Reporter V. 1 No. 2 (No. 1 has not been located) April 15, 1922

This continued throughout the life of the Reporter. Meanwhile, “Hollywood By-the-Sea” was used in the company’s extensive advertising blitz, from ads in the Tallahassee Daily Democrat of December 15, 1921, to a July, 1922 brochure “Facts about Miami and Hollywood-By-the-Sea Florida.”

The January 15, 1923 Reporter indicates that the recently-formed Chamber was named the “Hollywood-by-the-Sea Chamber of Commerce.” Later, a 1927 brochure published by JW Young Properties Inc. used the address Hollywood-by-the-Sea, Florida, with offices in New York at 535 Fifth Avenue and in Chicago at 180 North Michigan Avenue.
One possible source for this pleasing description may have been a 1920 campaign to change the name of Miami Beach to “Miami by the Sea,” according to the Miami Metropolitan Herald of November 19th. The nearby development of Fulford-by-the-sea came along after Hollywood had been well-publicized (and it wasn’t by the sea).
Perhaps both of these sobriquets were inspired by the popular song, “By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea….” published in 1914 (and later sung to me by my grandmother).
Young’s Hollywood wasn’t precisely by the sea initially, but he surely chose the property with an eye on the barrier island just to the east of his land, and very shortly he began to purchase parts of that island, beginning with the section that today is from Johnson to Washington Streets. Next he added sections to the north as far as Sheridan Street, and eventually J. W. Young’s companies owned the entire barrier island from its north tip south, only excluding Hallandale.

Beginning in 1924, residents began writing songs about their city, and all of the songs refer to “Hollywood By-the-Sea.” The first song with that title was by Phil Vitsky, who had been a song-and-dance man in vaudeville before coming to Hollywood to run the Western Union telegraph office. According to Virginia TenEick, Vitsky’s “Hollywood By-the-Sea” was widely played by dance bands and radio stations around the nation.  Just imagine, people around the US singing about Hollywood By-the-Sea since 1924!

Of course, Hollywood, Florida isn’t just a beach, it’s an entire city. To my knowledge, none of the other 16 or so Hollywoods in the USA is on the shore, so our Hollywood surely could claim the distinction of being “Hollywood By-the-Sea”!


Now I’ll return to the monthly format, which in this blog will include events in both October and November.

November 1-11, 1920. Having bought the land, Young was eager to begin developing his future city. As his business at that time was in Indianapolis, Young needed people on hand in Florida, so he sent twelve salesmen and engineers to drive down Carl Fisher’s Dixie Highway to get the ball rolling. Two of these were salesman C. W. Sammons and my father, 25-year-old World War One Navy veteran, A. C. Tony Mickelson. The drive from Indianapolis to Miami down the young Dixie Highway—it was completed only in 1915—took eleven days. Most of the next year involved clearing the land of palmetto scrub.
November, 1920. Warren G. Harding is elected US president. This involves Hollywood as he would visit the city in 1923.

November 19, 1921. According to Virginia TenEick in her History of Hollywood, the Young company’s first sales pavilion was opened on the southwest corner that would become Harrison Street and 19th Avenue. 1st sales pavilion Harrison St.

At right, cars and people surround a large tent that was Hollywood Land & Water Company’s first (of three) sales pavilions. These crowds arrived in the new little city by driving from Miami or from as far north as Palm Beach along the Dixie Highway. The tent seated 350 on built-in benches. Young also brought prospective buyers to his city by bus. All who came were served lunch consisting of an apple, a sandwich, piece of pie, and coffee. Then came the sales pitch couched as a lecture on the beauty and advantages of living in south Florida. Buyers were many and eager.

Late 1921. The first permanent building was erected in Hollywood was completed. This was the company garage, built at the city’s first street corner, 21st Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard.Garage with trucks

It is described in the second issue of the Reporter: “To care for the automotive equipment the Company has built a handsome garage, 66×115 feet which is now in operation.” (April 15, 1922)

Right, Hollywood’s first permanent building, initially a maintenance garage, stands on the northwest corner of 21st Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard. The photo here would have been taken from the FEC railroad tracks. Displayed here are a dozen or so of Young’s working trucks, neatly lined up, driven by a group of the black workers who built Hollywood. Photo dated October 25, 1922.

Two points here: one is to note that April , 1922 was the second issue of the Hollywood Reporter. Therefore, there was a first issue, from earlier in 1922. But no copy of this first issue, V. 1, no. 1, has yet been found.

Also, I hope these photos are getting across the fact that Hollywood was begun as part of the age of the automobile. I have yet to find any reference to horses in the earliest material on the city. Young’s company owned cars, buses, trucks, steam shovels, dredges, even boats–but no horses. 1921 hollywood blvd 4

Left: Hollywood Boulevard in 1921. Some of Young’s trucks, tractors, and rollers at work building the city’s roads.

Steam shovels RThompBelow right: two of the Company’s steam shovels excavating oolite limestone that was used to surface the roads. Photo gift to Hollywood Historical Society by Ralph Thompson.

The first impression of newcomers to the city in the early Twenties was its  bright, daytime glare. 

Houses were constructed with space for autos, not stables for horses. That was the past, and Hollywood was very much part of the Roaring Twenties, the FUTURE.  If you are watching “Miss Fisher’s Mysteries” you might get a sense of life (on a less grand scale) in Hollywood in the Twenties.

Two other buildings were begun about the same time as the garage.  These were the Hollywood Land & Water Company’s first administration building, and its neighbor, a group of stores.1st office under constr

At right, the first Administration Building under construction in 1922, on the southwest corner of Hollywood Boulevard and 20th Avenue. Originally the offices were on the 2nd floor with shops below. The 2nd floor was removed in the 1920s. Today this is Morningstar’s.

Nov 18 1923 office force 10At left, the Bastian Building, also 1922, and like the Admin Building designed by Rubush & Hunter. 

1st officeBelow, both buildings. 20th Avenue runs between them, as it does today.

A sign for “Sodas” is on the east corner of the Admin building, while Black’s Drugs are advertised on the Bastian Building.

Black’s was Hollywood’s first drug store, followed on this same corner by Yaguda’s and then Iris Drugs.

In October, 1923, the Hollywood Reporter announced that “finishing touches” were being added to the new golf course.

Nov. 15 1922

Nov. 15 1922

At that time, there was really not much to see, but the Reporter wanted readers (hence, buyers) to know that Hollywood had an 18-hole golf course just a few blocks from downtown.

Left, Reporter page, indicating that the photo was by “Fishbaugh.”

Also in October, 1923, the Hollywood Land & Water Company was proud to announce that the all-black city of liberia houseLiberia was formally opened.

I’ve described Liberia extensively in previous blogs, and will note here that the Reporter states that it was developed with water and electricity, land for schools and churches (donated by Young as he did in Hollywood), and now had four homes built and ready for occupancy.

Speaking of electricity, please note that from its earliest days, Hollywood was wired for electricity, with lines underground downtown, and in the alleys in residential sections.

Elec & Water plants 1924 Leonard giftOn October 24, 1922, according the the November 15th Reporter, the city residents celebrated the start up of the big power plant, and “immediately the lights blazed up in the store and office buildings, in the public garage, in the water works, in the light plant, and in the sixteen houses that were occupied at that time.”dixie at night

The Company planned to install street light fixtures all up and down the Boulevard and around the Circle, which would be called the “White Way,” according to the 1922 Reporter. At some point handsome street lights also lined the Dixie Highway from Dania to Hollywood’s south border. As both surrounding towns, Dania and Hallandale, had large amounts of acreage given over to farming (and not requiring illumination), Hollywood all lit up must have stood out like a space ship landing.

2nd sales Pavilion, BoulevardIn November, 1922 the second sales pavilion was erected, a large, open, 2-story frame structure on Hollywood Boulevard at 16th Avenue. This was about as far east as Young could go on the Boulevard at that time while the Lakes Section was still under creation. The top story gave visitors a view of the beach and ocean.

Also in November, 1922 the future Park View Hotel was under construction, Young’s first hotel, designed by Rubush & Hunter.

Reporter Nov. 15 1922 v. 1 no. 9

Reporter Nov. 15 1922 v. 1 no. 9

Originally it was called the Hollywood Hotel, until the hotel on the beach was built, Hollywood Beach Hotel. To prevent confusion, this was changed to the Park View Hotel as it overlooked Circle Park.

In the photo at the bottom of the Reporter page of November 15, 1922, at left, the nearly-completed hotel is described as “Gracefully elongated. Facing the Circle the design is Spanish Renaissance, while toward the sea Moorish effects will add an artistic touch.”  Not visible in the photo of the west facade, the “Moorish effect” is represented by a gold dome off-center to the north.

City is incorporated November, 28, 1925.

From empty scrub land in 1920, J. W. Young had created a thriving city and was ready to hand its management over to others. The city of Hollywood was formally incorporated in November, 1925, then needed officials to run it so the first officials were appointed by the committee that had drawn up the city charter. These commissioners were Joseph W. Young, Jr., his son John “Jack” Young, Ralph Young (no relation), Paul R. John, and David Fessler. This group immediately voted for J. W. Young to be Hollywood’s first mayor.


To celebrate the 90th anniversary of Hollywood’s incorporation, a walking tour of the historic Downtown was held November 1, 2015, with visitors guided along the tour by an illustrated descriptive booklet, prepared by the Hollywood Historical Society with support from the city. I wrote the text, images were lent by the Hollywood Historical Society and HistoryMiami, and Gabriela Milner designed the handsome booklet.

Copies may still be purchased from the Hollywood Historical Society.  Call 954-923-5590 or email HollywoodFLhistory@att.net

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