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Hollywood Heights: How Hollywood’s Streets Got Their Names

H.H. Wilcox’s 1887 map of Hollywood courtesy of USC digital collections.

Street names provide a telling story of an area’s development, growth, and history. Real estate promoters and developers give tract streets aspirational titles, monikers that salute subjects or places, or as is often the case, name them after themselves, their friends, and family. Early Hollywood pioneers looking to leave a powerful statement of their accomplishments and importance followed suit, giving the roads and streets through their burgeoning land tracts the names of their closest family members. In this way they provide a telling history of those who built a dusty little farming town into a flourishing entertainment and commercial district, one recognized and celebrated around the world.

The following list describes the history of the majority of streets in Hollywood’s original land tracts that surround major thoroughfares like Hollywood, Sunset, and Santa Monica Boulevards, some of which gained their names in late 1912 after the city of Los Angeles changed some of the street names around the metropolis.

Beachwood Drive takes its name from developer Albert Beach, who purchased acreage in an unnamed Cahuenga Valley canyon in the early 1900s before opening it up to development. Beach would go on to name the canyon and its main street after himself.

Bronson Avenue salutes real estate promoter Marcus Alonzo Bronson, born in Michigan in 1840, who moved to Los Angeles in 1887 and began selling real estate in 1890. He later settled in Hollywood, where he died in 1907.

Cahuenga Boulevard “Hollywood’s back door through the mountains,” derives from the Gabrielino word cahuenga as “place of the mountain,” the top of what we now know as the Cahuenga Pass. Originally a footpath for Native Americans, it later served as part of El Camino Real, the Butterfield stagecoach route, and in 1911, served as the Pacific Electric Railway’s Big Red streetcars route to the San Fernando Valley.

Cole Street honors Senator Cornelius Cole, who moved to Los Angeles in late 1880 after serving as a congressman and United States senator from 1866-1872 and helping to found the Republican Party in California. His 500-acre ranch, named after his wife, Olive Colegrove, originally part of Rancho La Brea, and deeded to him by the Hancock family, encompassed the area between Gower, Seward, Rosewood, and Sunset Boulevard. Living to 102, he died in 1924.

DeLongpre Avenue salutes French-born painter Paul De Longpre, whose Moorish-style residence and gardens at what is now the northwest corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Cahuenga Avenue served as the area’s first tourist attraction. Unable to sell paintings in France or New York, DeLongpre moved to Los Angeles, where Daieda Wilcox fell in love with his work and gave him three lots. The residence served as the Hollywood stop on the balloon route, the 1900s version of the Gray Line Tour taking tourists from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica and back showing off the beauty of the area. Visiting out-of-towners loved strolling the beautiful gardens, purchasing De Longpre’s paintings as a souvenir of their visit to charming estate. After De Longpre’s death in 1911, his home was converted to apartments, and demolished in 1927.

Eleanor Street recognizes Eleanor Brydges, wife of real estate man Seward Cole, the son of former Senator Cole. Born in London, Canada, she moved with her family to the Hollywood area in 1878 when her father, Edward Brydges, opened Southern California’s first commercial rose nursery on 20 acres near Hollywood and Laurel Canyon Boulevards. She died in 1967.

Gower Street takes its name from early resident John T. Gower and his wife, Mary, who owned a 160-acre ranch between Sunset Boulevard and Melrose Avenue, taking a claim in 1869, per his son G.T. Gower, in the May 19, 1922, Los Angeles Evening Citizen News. The elder Gower died in 1901.

HIghland Avenue salutes Highland Mary Mosby Price, wife of real estate developer Thomas Walter Price. Born in 1866, she died in Hollywood in 1901.

C. 1911 postcard of Paul De Longpre’s home, from the California State Library.

Hollywood Boulevard replaced Prospect Avenue as the name of Hollywood’s main street in 1910 after residents approved the town’s annexation by the city of Los Angeles. City leaders believed the name befitted a more upscale tract seeking to become a first-class city.

Hudson Avenue honors Thomas Hudson, a successful real estate man who constructed a large home on Prospect Avenue in 1902, which later received the address 1635 Hudson Ave. Hudson owned eight acres between Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset. In 1917, the home was moved because of the growing commercialization of the area. The August 3, 1917, Los Angeles Evening Citizen News reported that Hudson Avenue was created in 1904 as the land was subdivided.

Ivar Avenue takes its name from early pioneer Ivar A. Weid, a Danish immigrant born in 1837 who owned a ranch adjacent to the Wilcoxes that extended into the canyon originally called Weid Canyon, now the home of the Hollywood Dell and Mulholland Dam. Moving to the Cahuenga Valley in 1883, he operated a stone quarry there by the early 1890s that provided material for several Los Angeles buildings while serving with the Internal Revenue Service. He died in 1902.

Lodi Place recognizes Senator Cornelius Cole’s birthplace of Lodi, New York, where he was born in 1822.

McCadden Place salutes W.G. McCadden, owner of the Rebate Mining Company of Lakeview, New Mexico, who moved to Hollywood in 1901, purchasing 4 1/2 acres on Prospect Avenue one block east of Highland Avenue from real estate promoter H.J. Whitley. McCadden sold real estate, and listed himself in the city directory at McCadden Place as early as 1906. He died in 1935.

Selma Avenue honors Weid’s daughter Selma, who was born in Colegrove.

Seward Avenue salutes Senator Cornelius Cole’s oldest son Seward, named after Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of State and Cole’s mentor, with whom he first studied law. Seward Cole worked as a real estate developer around the Hollywood/Colegrove area. The younger Cole served as the first postmaster and justice of the peace in Colegrove, dying in 1927.

Vine Street takes its name from its start in former Senator Cole’s vineyard down in Colegrove.

Waring Avenue salutes Captain Howard Waring, husband of Senator Cole’s oldest daughter, Ella Lucretia.

Whitley Avenue recognizes H.J. Whitley, who named the street after himself when he opened his Whitley Heights sub-development. Whitley originally owned an eponymously named jewelry store in downtown Los Angeles before beginning his real estate career. Besides Whitley Heights, he also developed the Hollywood Ocean View Tract on the west side of Highland Avenue with M.H. Sherman, Eli P. Clark, Griffith J. Griffith, and F.H. Rindge in 1901, helping ensure the Pacific Electric Railway cars would chug up and down Highland Avenue on their route to and from the San Fernando Valley. He died in 1931.

Wilcox Avenue honors the father and mother of Hollywood, Harvey and Daieda Wilcox. Daieda first gave the subdivision and later the town its name. She fell in love with the sound of “Hollywood” after hearing fellow train passenger Laura Rockefeller mention the name of her estate. Harvey Wilcox employed the name on the tract map he released to the public on February 2, 1887, the beginnings of Hollywood as we know it today. Their 120-acre tract extended from Franklin Avenue south to Sunset Boulevard, Whitley Avenue east to Gower Street. Harvey died in 1891, and his widow, Daieda Beveridge, passed away in 1914.

Willoughby Street honors another son of former Senator Cornelius Cole, Willoughby. He was named United States attorney for the Southern California district in 1894, serving for a short time and later worked as an attorney in Colegrove.

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Very interesting. Thank you for sharing😀

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