So why can’t preservationists be positive? Why are they always against something? That is a question I am often asked, and a question I see debated more and more in magazine editorials.
Here’s the answer. We are positive. We have a positive vision of a future. Just because we are against demolishing our landmarks does not mean we are not “for” something!
Hollywood Heritage has been in constant conflict with the development juggernaut because for over 20 years we have advocated that Hollywood actually capitalize on its landmarks. Hollywood can be more than a tourist mecca, more than a self-contained new shopping mall, and more than Times Square of billboards and nightclubs. What happened to the idea of keeping a real town, where locals want to live, work, and shop? Why does everything have to be huge, new, and ugly? Why can’t we once again be the “Fifth Avenue of the West”?
Thanks to this organization and its members, the most notable collection of movie palaces in the country has been restored to spectacular effect—the El Capitan, the Chinese, the Pantages, the Egyptian, the Palace, now the Montalban (previously the Doolittle) on Vine St.—even the Cinerama Dome! Who remembers that we read foot-thick piles of EIRs; attended endless hearings; negotiated, threatened and cajoled; and came out repeatedly to the construction sites to see that history was kept?
Thanks to this organization, Holly-wood Boulevard was listed on the National Register as an historic district, and many landmarks have been nominated and listed for national and local status.
Thanks to this organization and its members, the Redevelopment Plan grudgingly recognized historic landmarks, and made regulations limiting demolitions and remodellings. Although many historic building have been demolished, the carnage would clearly have been worse without us. Although the Hollywood and Highland project is thought by many to have landed from Mars, it was redesigned to be less overwhelming and less inward-turning than initially proposed.
We have the creative vision to see that our re-invigorated historic buildings and urban streets will be more agreeable than scaleless and sterile new construction. From Florence to Santa Barbara, authentic towns do come alive, melding the richness of culture with current economic vibrance. We see that historic buildings can be the wellspring for a renaissance along the full length of the Boulevard—like the grand success in Pasadena—and civility might return to our town!
As your president, I am hopeful that more and more people share our view. To that end, I hope to reinstate an office staff this year and win further grants so that our good works can be multiplied in the Hollywood Community.