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#6 - How Did Hollywood Become Hollywood? - 2004-10-13

Hollywood is the center of America's movie industry. It is part of the city of Los Angeles, in the western state of California.

In eighteen-eighty-seven, a man named Harvey Wilcox decided to sell some farmland he owned near Los Angeles. He hoped builders would put up houses there. Harvey's wife thought the name Hollywood would be nice for the new housing development. She liked the sound of the word, although no holly trees grow in California.

At first, Hollywood was just a little town surrounded by orange trees and farms. But new technology would change it forever.

Inventors in the United States and Europe had become interested in the idea of making pictures that moved. Thomas Edison's company showed the first moving picture machine in eighteen-ninety-three. Two years later, the Lumiere brothers of France showed the first simple moving picture in Paris.

American businessmen and artists hurried to explore the possibilities of the new technology. No one, however, suspected that movies would become the most popular kind of art in history.

Soon, theaters around the United States began showing short movies. In nineteen-oh-nine, some of the largest American movie-making companies joined together. They legally stopped other companies from using the new technology. So, independent movie producers moved away from the Atlantic coast, the center of movie-making at that time.

Independent movie producers wanted to go where eastern lawyers would not make trouble for them. They also wanted to go where there was warm weather and sunshine throughout the year. Hollywood was perfect.

The Nestor Company built the first movie studio in Hollywood in nineteen-eleven. Two years later, Cecil B. Demille produced the first long, serious movie in Hollywood. It was called "The Squaw Man."

Director D. W. Griffith also arrived in Hollywood in those early years. He created new ways of using a camera to tell a story through moving pictures.

Soon, the quiet community of farms and orange trees had changed. By the nineteen-twenties, Hollywood had become the movie capital of the world.

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