||The Dreamers and the Doers
But with the mixing of water and oil and land speculation for good
measure, movies are what made Los Angeles a city of dreams. Years
before, in 1887, Hollywood was founded — as a temperance sub-division!
Later deprived of its water supply, it became part of Los Angeles.
After D. W. Griffiths’ "Birth of a Nation" in 1914, L.A.
became the "permanent and recognized seat of the motion picture
industry." There was no stopping it!
What came to be known as the “Dream Machine”
was in reality a very down-to-earth business, carefully structured by
companies that called themselves “studios” — mainly
20th Century Fox, Paramount, MGM, RKO, Universal, and Warner Brothers.
These were 30- or 40-acre walled lots once described as “fairyland
on a production line.” The filmmakers claimed L.A. was their home
because of the lighting and the variety of terrains; skeptics said it
was to be beyond the reach of the owners of the patents to Edison’s
| Movie palaces sprung up throughout L.A. and the rest of the country,
many owned (until the government intervened) by the studios. The epitome
of these exotic castles was, many agreed, Grauman’s Chinese,
which opened in 1927.
For some, fame was achieved overnight; for others, gone the
next morning. Films showed Americans the ideal American life that
the film moguls actually invented themselves. Costumes and screenplays
took people out of their day-to-day struggles and introduced them
to Kings and Queens, high adventure on the seas, the Western experience,
the world of the future, and the struggles of the past.
With the movies, the good life was in sight, fame and glory within
an ordinary person’s grasp. The actors they loved and emulated
became movie “stars” who lived in a galaxy the whole country
aspired to. And the whole country changed, as “morality”
battled with “progress.”
Even in architecture, the film industry influence of experimentation
and fantasy was felt.
In the area known today as “Mid-Wilshire”, one grand building
after another was built, some by movie stars for movie stars, and others
as “apartment hotels” to house the players, directors, producers
and crews, and those who came to L.A. to become one of these.
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