September 10, 2023 | Karma Hayes

The Glittering History of West Hollywood: From the Early Days to the Modern Era

Nestled in the heart of Los Angeles County, West Hollywood, often affectionately referred to as WeHo, is a vibrant and culturally diverse city with a rich history. From its humble beginnings as an unincorporated area to its emergence as a hub for entertainment, art, and LGBTQ+ culture, West Hollywood has a captivating story to tell. Join us as we take a journey through time and explore the fascinating history of this iconic city.

The Early Years

The history of West Hollywood can be traced back to the late 19th century when the area was little more than open fields and farmland. It wasn't until the early 20th century that developers recognized its potential as a suburban community. In 1925, West Hollywood was officially founded and incorporated as the "City of West Hollywood."

During its early years, West Hollywood began to attract a diverse group of residents, including actors and artists drawn to the creative atmosphere of Los Angeles. The city's proximity to Hollywood made it an ideal location for those involved in the burgeoning film industry.

The Golden Age of WeHo

The 1920s and 1930s saw West Hollywood become a hotspot for entertainment and nightlife. Legendary venues like the Trocadero and the Garden of Allah Hotel attracted the biggest stars of the era, including Greta Garbo, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Judy Garland. The Sunset Strip, a 1.5-mile stretch of Sunset Boulevard that runs through West Hollywood, became synonymous with glamour and celebrity culture.

However, the city's history also has darker moments, such as the infamous gangster era of the 1930s, when criminal activity and corruption were prevalent in the area. This turbulent period came to an end with increased law enforcement efforts and a changing cultural landscape.

The Birth of LGBTQ+ Culture

West Hollywood has played a pivotal role in the LGBTQ+ rights movement. The neighborhood of Boystown, located in the eastern part of West Hollywood, has been a safe haven for the LGBTQ+ community since the 1960s. The iconic LGBTQ+ bar, The Stonewall Inn, became a symbol of resistance, and the first Los Angeles Pride Parade took place on the streets of West Hollywood in 1970.

Incorporating LGBTQ+ culture into its identity, West Hollywood has consistently championed LGBTQ+ rights and established itself as one of the most inclusive and accepting communities in the United States. The city's rainbow crosswalks, LGBTQ+ community centers, and numerous LGBTQ+ events are testament to its unwavering commitment to equality.

Modern West Hollywood

Today, West Hollywood continues to be a cultural epicenter, known for its vibrant nightlife, art scene, and progressive policies. It remains a hub for the entertainment industry, hosting film festivals, fashion events, and some of the best restaurants and bars in Los Angeles.

West Hollywood's commitment to sustainability and the environment is also noteworthy. The city has implemented numerous green initiatives, including bike lanes, electric vehicle charging stations, and policies to reduce single-use plastics, making it a leader in environmentally conscious urban planning.

The history of West Hollywood is a tale of transformation, resilience, and diversity. From its roots as a rural community to its emergence as a global symbol of LGBTQ+ acceptance, West Hollywood has evolved into a city that embraces progress and celebrates individuality.

As we look back on its glittering history, we can appreciate how West Hollywood has continually reinvented itself while preserving the essence of its vibrant and inclusive culture. Whether you're strolling down the Sunset Strip, exploring the art galleries, or joining in the festivities during Pride Month, West Hollywood's history continues to shape its bright future.


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