Why Hollywood?

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People often ask me what my favorite state in the US is, and there is only one obvious response – California. Most Californians would agree, and be hard-pressed to think it’s because of any kind of pat “state-rioticness.” California is nothing short of every kind of awesome. It is the state that has changed the US and the world technologically as well as culturally. It reeks of natural beauty, from the granite sky-scrapers of Yosemite overlooking the bluest river, tallest waterfalls, and greenest forest I have ever seen, to the always-sunny San Diego, to a desert holding the record for hottest place in the world (and arguably the most beautiful desert as well). In the US, we have the tallest mountain, deepest valley, most beautiful beaches (and women), glorious forests…

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And then there’s Los Angeles. Attracting visitors from around the world, to be left welcomed by a dirty, crime-ridden shit-hole that’s as much big as it is ugly. However, this giant urban mass has somehow managed to birth one of the most well-known industries in the world, known for bright lights, glamour, beauty, fortune, and fame. The industry is named just as frequently by what it produces as much as by where it’s located – Hollywood. But why would such an ugly city attract an industry with practically the opposite image? The answer lies in Logistics.

Almost a century-and-a-half ago, the film industry (then silent films) in the US was dominated by the Thomas Edison’s Motion Picture Co. in New Jersey, who held various patents, and was not afraid to use them. To avoid litigation, filmgoers fled elsewhere, and a film company called Biograph fled west and found a home in Los Angeles, which at the time, like most of California, was filled with orchards and farms.

However, California offered the film industry an ideal combination of factors. Not only did it help film producers escape litigation from the other side of the country, but also offered excellent weather conditions. The lights were not strong at the time, so films often relied on a sunny climate for good lighting conditions. Furthermore, California’s scenic diversity is hard to match, offering mountains, beaches, deserts, valleys, cliffs, islands, urban areas, suburban areas, farms, jungles… and almost any setting a film producer might want; and all within just a few hours distance from Los Angeles. The icing on the cake was the low wages that made the costly process of making a film less so. Biograph spread the news of the location, and as the film industry exploded, so did the urban mass of Los Angeles.

The story of Los Angeles is a complicated one. But at least next time you are driving down the streets of Bel Air looking at the homes of some of the richest celebrities on this Earth, only to have your tire blown out by a gauntlet of pot-holes, it will all make a little more sense.

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