Finally I did not come to L.A just to make a transit at LAX. I came to visit the City of Angels, aka La La Land. First stop, Tinseltown aka Hollywood.
Dancing with the Stars
In the movie “La La Land“, Mia and Sebastien came to a beautiful planetarium. Griffith Observatory is also the vantage point to look at the City of Los Angeles.
People who have never even been to L.A. can probably recognize the Griffith Observatory, if only because it has appeared in so many different movies and TV shows. Griffith Observatory is southern California’s gateway to the cosmos! Visitors may look through telescopes, explore exhibits, see live shows in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, and enjoy spectacular views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Sign.
On a clear day, you can see right to downtown LA. And yes, these are the same lampposts in the movie!
City of Stars
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is where the stars are remembered or stepped on forever. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce maintains these stars on the pavements along Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street.
To get a star, you must have been featured in or directed a movie, performed on stage, released a music album, or perform/host/product a TV or Radio show. You register a nomination, get 20,000 fan votes or more to qualify, and then hope to be one of the 30 per year to get top votes from the Committee in the Chambers.
Then you pay $55,000 for the ceremony, the installation of and the maintenance of the star. Unless of course if you are Disneyland or if you are the recording artistes of Capitol Records, they maintain their own stars.
The Grandiose Theatres
Of course Tinseltown is all about the movies, and what better to feature their No.1 product is to have the best theatres in the world to premiere them in.
One of the oldest original theatres that is still operating today, the TCL Chinese Theatre is where all the major movies were premiered in the last century. Originally called Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the owners could not resist the real Chinese money and let a Chinese television manufacturer to co-brand the theatre. I always thought it looks more Indochina than Chinese, but the 20s Americans did not know the difference. The forecourt featured the handprints and footprints of many celebrities including Marilyn Monroe.
Just a couple of buildings down from Chinese Theatre is the Dolby Theatre, where they host the Academy Awards (better known as the Oscars) every year since 2001. It has the most state-of-the-art sound and projection technology from Dolby (hence the name) in the world and was purpose built for the Oscars. In earlier days when it first started, it was known as Kodak Theatre, because Kodak sponsored the theatre until 2012 when it went bankrupt. Dolby took over and will sponsor it until 2032.
But the granddaddy on this strip of Hollywood Boulevard is this 1926 theatre called El Capitan. The magnificent office building which fronts the theatre was designed in a Spanish Baroque style and the interior of the theatre is in an opulent East Indian Revival style.
The theatre was nearly destroyed in 1942 by sloppy renovation, but when Disney took over this theatre as their flagship to premiere Disney/Pixar animated movies, they did an amazing restoration work to reveal the original Lansburgh interior decorations. The new restored theatre reopened in 1991.
I Saw the Sign
How can one not see the famous Hollywood sign when you are in Hollywood? Once the signboard of the real estate agent for Hollywoodland, the wooden sign was put up in 1923 and was supposed to last for two years. It has gone through multiple replacements as the wood rotted away. The word “land” was dropped in 1949 and the place was known as Hollywood since.
The world famous sign is now maintained by Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, whom has replaced the letters with metal ones and rebuilt the base with concrete with the help of Mr Playboy Hugh Hefner, who did a fund-raising for the replacement of the sign in 1978.
Soaring to the skies, displaying confidence in Hollywood’s unlimited future, the First National Bank Building, constructed and opened in 1928, brought Art Deco-Gothic beauty to Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. This junction and its surrounding blocks formed the business district of Hollywood and businesses sprang up around it. It’s totally vacant despite commanding space on one of THE marquee intersections in the country.
The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is a 12-story hotel opened on May 15, 1927 and has been a centre of Hollywood life since, including hosting the first Oscars in 1929. Marilyn Monroe had a long association with the Roosevelt. She posed for her first print ad, a toothpaste spot, on the diving board of the hotel pool. And her ghost was purportedly appearing in the mirror of her favourite suite.
The thirteen-story, earthquake-resistant Capitol Records Tower was the world’s first circular office building and it is the base for several recording studios. Although not intended as a tribute to record players, its wide curved awnings and tall narrow tower mimic the appearance of a stack of gramophone records atop a phonograph. The building was commissioned by EMI after its acquisition of Capitol Records in 1955 and was completed in April 1956. Capitol and artist Richard Wyatt Jr. restored his Hollywood Jazz Mural on the south wall of the Capitol Records Building
This is one place of worship that will not welcome you with open arms, unless you are famous. Church of Scientology Celebrity Centres are Scientology churches that are open to the general public but are intended mostly for “artists, politicians, leaders of industry, and sports figures”. Famous members included Tom Cruise and John Travolta, although John was said to have left the church after they had dissuaded his wife from chemo therapy of her breast cancer.
Next Stop >> Beverly Hills and Downtown
Visited Sep 2022
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