If you live in Manhattan, on Friday, January 26, when you grabbed your morning coffee and picked up your New York Times, there it was on the front page - the feature story by Jennifer Steinhauer - Hollywood, the Sequel. In approving tones you'd discover this isn't the crass end of the earth. Why, Hollywood and Highland is sort of like Times Square (as already noted in these pages). The subhead is, of course, "Less Shabby, More Chic." Just as New York cleaned up Times Square so we've done the same thing out here. After all, David Malmuth, a developer who brought the Kodak Theater, home to the Academy Awards, to Hollywood, also oversaw the renovation of the New Amsterdam Theater in Times Square. Gee, we might catch up to New York.
But the place was a mess -
For decades, tourists deposited themselves at one of the most famous intersections in America - Hollywood and Vine - and looked around in puzzlement, wondering what exactly they were supposed to be seeing.
The surrounding Hollywood neighborhood had fallen into such miserable disrepair that its main consumers were people seeking drugs or tattoos. Many entertainment companies were long gone. Crime was rampant, incomes were depressed, and people who labored in the industry that gave the neighborhood its fame were nowhere to be found.
But in a few weeks, work will begin on a luxury hotel and a collection of $1 million condominiums at Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, joining a skyline of condos and trendy new hamburger and sushi outposts rising among the mid-20th-century architecture.
That Los Angeles neighborhood, which had been promised a comeback for a good 40 years, seems to have finally achieved it, a cross-continent bookend to the transformation of Times Square in New York, with one key difference: Los Angeles residents, not just tourists, have found reasons to go there and live there.
Yep, people actually live here and hang out here. Isn't it amazing? We might actually develop some sense of urban life, and Los Angeles will no longer be "a thousand suburbs in search of a city," as is always said. At least that seems to be what's happening in the twenty-five square miles that is Hollywood - 222,694 of us do live here.
In any event, the article is rich in detail of how this place got itself back together again. New Yorkers are urged to think of it as another success, like what was done with their Times Square.
The Times item online also offers a pop-up gallery with a handful of simple photographs. On file at this site are eighty pages of photographs with far more detail - not to mention the architectural studies and the seasonal items.
Still, we're not New Yorkers -
Now cruising east on Hollywood Boulevard toward a sea of glittering lights, the sleazy motels and tattoo parlors begin to give way to Starbucks and a Virgin Megastore, and the hopelessly chic Geisha House, a giant emporium of oyster shooters and sashimi "igloo style," and the sort of people who spend a good chunk of their week in Pilates classes.
The graphic on the door just changed again. It's still Hollywood. And some of us like the old sleaze.