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Description

The First Subdivision Tract Map of Hollywoodland

Rare and important early plan of Hollywoodland, showing one of the original subdisision tracts created by the first developer. The concept of a community in the Hollywood Hills named "Hollywoodland" was conceived by S.H. Woodruff and Tracy Shoults in February 1923. The Hollwoodland sign was dedicated in July 1923 and built in 1924.

The map shows the northwestern part of the Hollywood Hills, including Beechwood Canyon and the area to the north, including all of the area south and east of Mullholland Highway (Mullholland Drive), west of Rockcliff Drive and Beachwood Drive and north of Deronda Drive and Linforth Drive.

The present map focuses in on the location of roads and topographical features, and includes a note at the top showing that it was intended "To accompany our letter to Title Insurance and Trust Company under date of January 25, 1924."  This was almost certainly submitted with one of the developer's earliest subdivision submissions for creating the finished and salable homesites.

"S.H. Woodrfuff, along with Tracy Shoults and Harry Chandler (LA Times owner), developed an estate community known as Hollywoodland. Woodruff, an architect and land developer, went so far as to register the name Hollywoodland with the State of California. The area includes thde location of the famous "HOLLYWOODLAND" sign. The sign was erected to advertise a new housing development in the hills above the Hollywood district of Los Angeles. H.J. Whitney, developer of Whitney Heights, suggested to his friend Harry Chandler, the owner of the Los Angeles Times, that the land syndicate in which he was involved make a similar sign to advertise their land. Real estate developers Woodruff and Shoults called their development "Hollywoodland" and advertised it as a "superb environment without excessive cost on the Hollywood side of the hills."

They contracted the Crescent Sign Company to erect thirteen letters on the hillside, each facing south. The sign company owner, Thomas Fisk Goff (1890-1984) designed the sign. Each letter of the sign was 30 ft (9 m) wide and 50 ft (15 m) high, and was studded with some 4000 light bulbs. The sign was officially dedicated on July 13, 1923. It was not intended to be permanent. Some sources say its expected life was to be about a year and a half, but after the rise of the American cinema in Los Angeles it became an internationally recognized symbol, and was left there.

Rarity

We were unable to locate another example of the map, although the Bancroft Library holds a copy of a map witgh a similar title, but different sheet size.