The History of "The Creative City"
West Hollywood's history goes back to the 1780s when what is now know as the
Sunset Strip emerged as one of the principal routes connecting el Pueblo de Los
Angeles to ranchos further west and the Pacific Ocean. In the 1880s, Mexican
Dons began to sell their land to settlers from the Midwest, East Coast and
The railroad moved into Los Angeles in the 1890s, significantly accelerating the
development of the region. The main railroad yards for the Los Angeles Railroad
were located in the town of Sherman - now known as West Hollywood.
In the early 1900s, the town of Sherman chose not to incorporate into the City
of Los Angeles and became notorious for the disrepair of its streets and the
availability of liquor during Prohibition. Sherman thrived as a hub for rail
access and benefited from the emergence of the movie industry in nearby
In the 1920s, Sherman became known as West Hollywood, emphasizing its
relationship to its famous neighbor. West Hollywood remained unincorporated; and
because of loose land-use regulations and the repeal of Prohibition, the Sunset
Strip became the home of many glamorous nightclubs such as the Trocadero, the
Mocambo and Ciro's. Sunset Tower (now the Argyle Hotel) and many smaller
courtyard buildings were home to such notable people as Frank Sinatra, Charlie
Chaplin, Howard Hughes, Katherine Hepburn and Marlene Deitrich.
By the 1950s, the glitz of Las Vegas had eclipsed the glamour of the Sunset
Strip. However, in the 1960s, Sunset Boulevard revived itself as the home of a
thriving new music industry. The glamorous nightclubs of the 1950s were replaced
by a new generation of clubs including Whisky-a-Go-Go and The Roxy. The
entertainment industry soon became vital to the economy of West Hollywood.
As early as the 1950s, the design and decorating industry had also found a home
in West Hollywood in the area near Beverly and Robertson Boulevards. In the
early 1970s, the original site of the railroad yards was cleared of light
industrial use. The 750,000 square foot Pacific Design Center was built in 1975,
and it became the anchor for the burgeoning Avenues of Art & Design.
Spurred by a desire for greater local control, a coalition of seniors and the
area's growing gay and lesbian population joined together to fight the threat to
end rent control under Los Angeles County government; West Hollywood became
incorporated as a City in 1984. In the last decade, the City has undertaken
projects to strengthen its economy, including revitalization of the City's East
Side and approval of the Sunset Specific Plan to guide and promote quality
development along historic Sunset Boulevard.
Information provided by the Cultural Heritage Advisory Board for more
information, call (323) 848-6475 or visit the City of West Hollywood website at:
http://www.weho.org (External Link)