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History of Hollywood
From its formal incorporation by adoption of a municipal charter on November 28, 1925, the City of Hollywood has transformed itself. Beginning as an undeveloped tract of pine forests, palmetto plants, and tangled undergrowth interspersed with tomato farms and low lying marshland, it has become the second-most populated city in Broward County and the ninth largest city in the State of Florida. Founded by the planning visionary Joseph Wesley Young, a Washington state native and former resident of California and Indiana, the original one square mile of farmland has grown to over 28.87 square miles with a gross taxable value of real and personal property in 1998 of over $5,408,266,000.
Joseph Young first arrived in South Florida in January 1920 to survey several parcels of land that would be suitable for the site of his "Dream City in Florida." His initial vision included a wide boulevard extending from the ocean westward to the edge of the Everglades with man-made lakes paralleling each side of the roadway. One end of each lake would empty into the Intracoastal Waterway and the other would serve as a twin turning basin for private yachts. Also included in Young's vision was the sectioning of Hollywood into districts, a precursor of present day zoning regulations, with a centrally located business district, large park spaces, a golf course, schools, and churches. Hollywood, in Joseph Young's vision, "will be a city for everyone - from the opulent at the top of the industrial and social ladder to the most humble of working people." Unique in Young's city plan was the incorporation of three large circles of land located along his planned principal boulevard. These circles became the sites of a ten-acre park (originally named Harding Circle and later renamed Young Circle), the City Hall complex (originally named City Hall Circle and later renamed Watson Circle), and a military academy (Academy Circle.) Academy Circle, now Presidential Circle, is the current site of a focal commercial structure. Having formerly lived in California, Young chose as the name of his "Dream City" the name of the Southern California town that had once been so attractive to him.
With the formation of the Hollywood Land and Water Company, composed of twenty-six departments covering every aspect of city-building, Joseph Young began earnestly bringing to reality his vision of Hollywood. In February 1921 Young purchased at approximately $175 per acre the first parcel of land that would evolve into present-day Hollywood. Young was successful in attracting numerous potential Hollywood residents to visit and eventually purchase property in Hollywood. By 1925, the Florida real estate market had reached all-time highs with speculators constantly bidding up Hollywood real estate in a frenzy of buying. Construction continued at a rapid pace with the building of the Hollywood Boulevard Bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway at the cost of $110,000. By January 1926, Hollywood numbered approximately 2,420 dwellings with approximately 18,000 people, thirty-six apartment buildings, 252 business buildings and nine hotels either completed or under construction. The city had grown to include 18,000 acres, six-and-a-half miles of oceanfront and an assessed value of $20,000,000. With this phenomenal growth, residents from the neighboring communities of Hallandale to the south and Dania to the north petitioned the legislature and the Hollywood City Commission to permit their annexation into Hollywood.
During this period, construction along Hollywood Beach was rapidly transforming the coastline. Construction was underway on the Hollywood Broadwalk, a unique cement promenade, thirty feet wide, stretching along the shoreline for a distance of one-and-a-half miles and patterned after Atlantic City's famed boardwalk. Hollywood Beach also boasted Florida's largest and best appointed bathing pavilion, the Hollywood Beach Casino located on the Broadwalk, built at a cost of $250,000 and complete with 824 dressing rooms, eighty shower baths, a shopping arcade and an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The "Atlantic City of the South" added more allure with the opening in February 1926 of the Hollywood Beach Hotel, which was situated on an 800-foot expanse of oceanfront property at the eastern end of Hollywood Boulevard. The Hollywood Beach Hotel would rise seven stories in height, include 500 rooms with private baths, contain the world's largest solarium, and boast a private wire connection direct to the New York Stock Exchange for use by hotel guests. It was built at a cost of more than $3,000,000. The hotel quickly became the winter home of many northern industrialists, visiting celebrities, and the site of several of Hollywood's fanciest social affairs.
On September 18, 1926, disaster struck Joseph Young's "Dream City." A vicious hurricane slammed into the South Florida Atlantic coast with Hollywood among its targets. The city was devastated by the hurricane's high winds and surging floodwaters. It claimed thirty-seven lives, uprooted trees, ripped electrical wires down, tore roofs off buildings, and flattened signboards and houses alike. Millions of dollars in property losses were incurred and the seemingly unlimited growth of Hollywood stopped overnight without warning. Again, Joseph Young took up the challenge and led in the rebuilding of Hollywood as head of the Hollywood Relief Committee. During this time of despair, the Hollywood Municipal Band would assemble on Hollywood Boulevard to play rousing marches and other inspirational music as the rebuilding was undertaken. However, the huge task of rebuilding and the financial losses inflicted by the hurricane were enormous and caused thousands of Hollywood's residents to abandon their new found homes and return to northern cities. The population of Hollywood declined precipitously from 18,000 to approximately 2,500 and property values plummeted as former residents sold properties for whatever the real estate market would yield. As a result of the turmoil, the residents of the communities of Hallandale and Dania seceded from Hollywood, refusing to pay municipal taxes to what was now, in essence, a bankrupt municipality.
During this period, Hollywood had also been expanding its residential stock of homes by building new residences in the western reaches of Hollywood in an area that would become the Hollywood Hills section. Young had contracted with the Highway Construction Company of Ohio and its founder, Samuel Horvitz, to begin construction in this area. By February 1927, in the aftermath of the hurricane and the ensuing collapse of the real estate market, construction had ceased as Young found himself unable to meet financial commitments to Horvitz and other lenders.
Undeterred, Joseph Young's vision of his "Dream City" included one last inspiration. While grounded in a speedboat on a mud flat in shallow Lake Mabel one afternoon, Young developed his visionary concept while awaiting rescue from his predicament. His idea was to dredge a deep-water seaport from the shallow lake north of Hollywood to the Atlantic Ocean, so that ships from around the world could dock and disembark eager visitors and tourists to Hollywood. In February 1928, Young's vision became a reality. From that initial predicament, the present day Port Everglades grew from a shallow lake into one of the busiest seaports in Florida.
By the end of the decade, Hollywood's population had risen from 2,689 in 1930 to 4,500 in 1935 and to 6,239 in 1940. In the 1940s World War II came to Hollywood. The military academy site was taken over and converted into the United States Naval Air Gunners' School; the Hollywood Beach Hotel became the United States Naval Indoctrination and Training School; and the Hollywood Golf and Country Club became an entertainment and recreation center for U.S. servicemen. With the end of the war in 1945, new management was installed at the Hollywood Beach Hotel; the hotel repainted and refurbished and building permits were secured to build the largest swimming pool and cabana club in the United States. The city's population continued to grow, reaching over 7,500 in 1945 and almost doubling to 14,351 by 1950. Even two hurricanes in the fall of 1947 failed to deter the city's renewed growth.
Despite his best efforts to promote the new seaport and the City of Hollywood, Young's precarious financial situation caused him to ultimately lose control of his vast Hollywood holdings to a sheriff's auction on the steps of a Fort Lauderdale courthouse in 1930. Young continued to live in his beloved city until April 1934, when he collapsed in his Hollywood Boulevard home and died of heart failure at the age of 51.
In the wake of Young's financial collapse and untimely death, two of his principal creditors formed new corporations in an attempt to renew the growth of Hollywood. Led by Hollywood, Inc., a slow but perceptible growth was re-ignited in Hollywood in the decade of the 1930s. Early in the 30s, construction began on Federal Highway (U.S. 1), the main north-south route to the industrial northeast, from Dania to Hollywood. Construction also began on the Hollywood Hills Inn on the site of the westernmost circle. In 1932, the inn was converted into the Riverside Military Academy and the circle renamed Academy Circle. By 1934, the city added to its recreational facilities with the opening of the Orangebrook Golf and Country Club and Dowdy Field, a local baseball park that later became the spring training home of the Baltimore Orioles for a short while. In 1935, the city added a water softener system to its municipal water plant and the original Fiesta Tropicale celebration was inaugurated.
Continuing its growth into the decade of the 1950s, a $1,000,000 bond referendum providing funds for the construction of Hollywood Memorial Hospital was passed in 1951 after an initial rejection by the city's electorate. The hospital was opened in February 1953, providing 100 hospital beds and a major medical facility for southern Broward County. In 1952, Joseph Watson became Hollywood's twenty-second city manager since the city's incorporation in 1925. During the next eighteen years, Hollywood would know only one city manager. In 1954, Hollywood Boulevard was extended from State Road 7 westward to U.S. 27 along the eastern edge of the Everglades in Broward County. This triggered the westward expansion of the city. The remainder of the decade saw the continued growth of Hollywood as Hollywood, Inc., moved ahead with the development of the Hollywood Hills section and set aside a tract of land for the future Hollywood Mall. In 1958, Hollywood celebrated the opening of the Diplomat Hotel on Hollywood Beach and for years thereafter, the Diplomat Hotel became the temporary residence of many of America's celebrities, entertainers, and dignitaries as they visited, performed, and basked in Florida's warm winter sun.
By the beginning of the 1960s, Hollywood had over 12,171 single family homes and 2,422 hotel units in addition to thousands of other housing structures. In 1964, the county's tallest cooperative office-apartment building at the time, the eighteen-story Home Federal Tower, was constructed in downtown Hollywood. A spurt of growth during this decade resulted in an increase of the housing stock to 35,045 single-family residences with a similar increase in other accommodations. In the middle part of this decade, Hollywood's municipal boundaries continued to expand from its eastern border on the Atlantic Ocean to new areas of unincorporated Broward County to the west, north, and south. From a population of 22,978 in 1955, Hollywood grew to 35,237 in 1960, almost doubling to 67,500 in 1965, expanding to 106,873 by 1970, and finally reaching over 121,400 by 1975. During this period of explosive growth, Hollywood instituted a growth management program which revised land use controls in an effort to manage and improve the quality and quantity of development so that needed public improvements and services could be coordinated with the barely controllable population growth
Unique to Hollywood is the location of the Seminole Indian Reservation, a politically independent entity, within the corporate limits of the city. In 1971, Hollywood was the site of the "Pageant of the Unconquered Seminoles" which drew the attendance of Native Americans from across the United States. Celebrating the city's Fiftieth Anniversary in 1975, Hollywood adopted the nickname the "Diamond of the Gold Coast." In its anniversary year, Joseph Young's "Dream City" had grown to include over 27,500 single-family residences, 34,581 apartments and other types of residential structures and a population exceeding 125,400 people.
In recent years, Hollywood has continued to add luster to its reputation as the Diamond of the Gold Coast with the opening of the Anne Kolb Nature Center located in Hollywood's West Lake Tract. The center boasts over 1,500 acres of mangrove preserves and is the site of a protected bird rookery and sanctuary as well as a fish nursery ground. On Hollywood's North Beach, a sea turtle hatchery and preserve has been developed. The historic downtown arts district along Harrison Street and the Hollywood Art & Culture Center have become centers of activity in the cultural arts and entertainment communities of South Florida.
Prior to 2000, the four members of the City Commission and the Mayor were elected in citywide elections with the Mayor serving a two-year term and the Commissioners a four-year term. In November 1998, residents' indicated their willingness to consider expanding the number of Commissioners to six, each elected by a distinct district rather than citywide. In March 1999, voters narrowly approved a charter revision to divide the city into six districts; each represented by its own commissioner and expanded the term of the Mayor from two years to four years. The primary and general elections in February and March 2000 were the first held under the new system. In 2010, additional revisions to the Hollywood Charter were approved by the electorate to establish term limits and staggered terms for elected officials. To facilitate the change; the Mayor and Commissioners elected in even number Districts in 2012 will serve a four-year term. They will be eligible for reelection in November, 2016. Commissioners in odd number Districts elected in 2012, will serve a six-year term. They will be eligible for reelection in November, 2018. Individuals are eligible to serve twelve consecutive years as Mayor, and from a particular district as a Commissioner.
The new millennium began with nearly 20,000 new residents choosing the City of Hollywood as their new home over the previous decade.
Hollywood Voters Pass General Obligation Bonds to Fund Citywide Improvements
Along with a surge in new residents came a need for major infrastructure improvements and updates to City facilities. In 2004, voters approved a $54 million General Obligation Bond (GOB) to be invested in public safety and park improvements. Projects included a new public safety complex on Federal Highway, a larger, updated Fire Station #31 on Hollywood Boulevard and 34th Avenue, and a new Public Safety Training and Maintenance Facility at the 3400 block of North 56th Avenue between Sheridan Street and Stirling Road.
The Police Department saw technology enhancements including the addition of new laptops installed in nearly 300 patrol cars, thereby allowing officers to spend even more time out on patrol in neighborhoods through the City.
More than 20 major parks projects were funded by the GOB and numerous neighborhood park upgrades also were installed. A new, modern sports complex, outdoor amphitheater, the Fred Lippman Multi-Purpose Center and the Boulevard Heights Community Center were all also constructed.
In addition to the GOB projects, other exciting things were happening in parks across the City. Hollywood’s first public swimming pool, the Driftwood Community Pool, opened with a splash in the early 2000’s. One of the largest projects to ever come to Hollywood also happened in the mid-2000’s. The ArtsPark at Young Circle transformed the heart of historic downtown Hollywood with a grand redesign of the circle bearing the name of the City’s founder and visionary, Joseph Wesley Young. The ArtsPark opened with a wide array of art, education, recreation and entertainment activities highlighting the cultural vibrancy of the region for the enjoyment of visitors and residents of all ages.
Hollywood voters again approved a $165 Million General Obligation Bond in 2019 to fund additional citywide improvements in Public Safety, Technology and Equipment; Parks, Open Space, Recreational and Cultural Facilities; and Neighborhood Improvements and Resiliency. Construction is currently underway on more than 30 projects, including a new Police Headquarters. The GOB also enabled the City to purchase more than 45 acres of open space to be used and enjoyed for generations to come.
Award-Winning Hollywood Beach
Hollywood Beach would see a rebirth in the early 2000’s as the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk underwent a complete renovation. The oceanfront Charnow Park also received a complete makeover transforming a underutilized facility into a popular beachside recreational amenity that includes state-of-the-art playground equipment, picnic pavilions and an interactive splashpad/water fountain. The beachfront Garfield Community Center added a centralized meeting and banquet location near Hollywood’s historic Paddleball Courts. Between the park and A1A, the new 5-story Garfield Street Parking Garage was constructed to offer ample public parking opportunities for visitors with easy access to the Broadwalk and beach. The undergrounding of utilities and major streetscape beautification would begin in the early 2000’s to encourage economic development and enhance resiliency. These efforts have transformed the barrier island and the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk into a world-famous tourism destination.
Citywide Infrastructure Improvements
Infrastructure improvements began in the late 1990’s with the construction of a state-of the-art Water Treatment Facility on Hollywood Boulevard. In the early 2000’s, the rehabilitation and expansion of the Southern Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant took place. The Plant was expanded to handle wastewater treatment services for multiple neighboring municipalities. The City-wide water main replacement project also began, as did a commitment to the conversion of residential septic to municipal sewer. In 2020, the City installed two additional deep injection wells at the Treatment Plant putting Hollywood on track to comply with state regulations for eliminating ocean outfalls by 2025. Hollywood continues to reimagine its key corridors with millions in public investment, transforming primary thoroughfares into welcoming and attractive outdoor spaces and creating new opportunities for commercial and residential development. Using “Complete Streets” guidelines developed regionally as a way to improve transportation infrastructure for all forms of transit, Hollywood is creating multi-functional roadways that will accommodate bicyclists, pedestrians, transit users and motorists. Through eye-catching landscaping, special street lighting, clearly marked bike lanes, bus bays, crosswalks, wider sidewalks, public art and seating areas, Hollywood is creating rich and vibrant streetscapes, reinforcing each area with unique character, and strengthening adjacent neighborhoods.
Hollywood has earned multiple achievements in the 2000’s including the All-America City award in 2007, the oldest and most prestigious civic recognition competition in the United States. Hollywood has been designated as a Tree City USA for more than 40 years by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to community forestry.
Several City departments earned national accreditations including the Police Department and Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts. The Department of Fire Rescue and Beach Safety received the rating of a Class 1 Fire Department, which is given to less than 1% of departments across the country.
Hollywood Beach and the Broadwalk have been named a top destination by dozens of publications, websites and organizations from USA Today and TripAdvisor to Travel + Leisure and Fodor's Travel Guides. Hollywood Beach has also been designated a Blue Wave Beach by Clean Beach Council.
Reinvestment Activity Puts Hollywood on the Map
Private investment in Hollywood has been booming since in the early 2000’s and that activity has put the City on the map. From the Diplomat Beach Resort Hollywood, Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino with its recent expansion and addition of the Guitar Hotel that can be seen for miles, Hollywood, Florida is known world-wide.
For Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Port Everglades have undergone major expansion, as has Memorial Regional Hospital and the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital making Hollywood a destination for those looking for a great place to live, vacation and work.
In 2015, the City of Hollywood celebrated its 90th birthday with a month-long celebration, culminating 90th Birthday Bash and Concert in the ArtsPark at Young Circle with a concert by the Gin Blossoms. Planning is already underway for a huge centennial celebration in Hollywood in 2025. As the City turns 100, it will be with new and renewed amenities designed to enhance the quality of life and ensure the City’s sustainability into the future.