This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Why there is no such place as Hollywood

If I told you that there was no such place as Hollywood, you might nod and agree (if you have seen many movies) or you may point to an area in California where, yes, indeed there is a place where people live. Please let me clarify.

I lived in Hollywood in my younger days, and while I was there I spent a fair amount of time (while looking for work) pondering where, exactly, I was. That is to say, legally, what my address was. The legal address for anyone living in "Hollywood" is the City of Los Angeles. There is no mayor of Hollywood. There is are no Hollywood police. Hollywood is not, and has never been, its own city or town. It's just a section of Los Angeles. Try sending a letter to a friend in Hollywood, but instead write to them in Los Angeles. It will get there just fine.

And it gets more confusing. Because places like Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and Burbank are real places, different from Los Angeles. They have their own mayors, and police. So, as you travel around the greater Los Angeles area, you have to look closely.

In the San Fernando Valley, Burbank is its own city. But Sherman Oaks, Encino, Van Nuys, Canoga Park, Woodland Hills, Tarzana, etc. are just parts of the City of Los Angeles. If you get a ticket in Burbank, you get the ticket from the Burbank Police. In Sherman Oaks, it's courtesy of the LAPD.

Once upon a time, all of these little communities were separate, and were hoping to some day grow up to be real towns and cities. Then came the Owens Valley Aqueduct in 1913. Financed by the city of Los Angeles, it brought in a much-needed steady supply of water. But in order for a community to tap into this supply, they had to annex to Los Angeles. Very few places refused, and those who annexed tried to hang onto their original names.

Drive around LA and you will see the original names of communities still proudly displayed on signs. People still call their communities by names that have been meaningless for 100 years. My personal favorite is Winnetka, which is another place where I lived, in the San Fernando Valley. Of course, it's really Los Angeles, but most people refer to it as Canoga Park. But the United States Post Office there says "Winnetka, California", as if it really exists.

By the way, when I moved back to Phoenix, I had to get in the habit of telling people that I had lived in LA. When I lived in LA, I never said that.
Post a Comment