It looks harmless. Even boring. Just an office building, with names of production companies, which don’t even leave much impact to the average tourist.
Until they know the story behind the street.
8439 Sunset Boulevard, now called Piazze del Sol, used to be the site of Hollywood’s most exclusive brothel, called “House of Francis.” People would go here for a different kind of networking, and whatever happened behind its doors stayed behind those doors.
Today there are still brothels, but they are typically held in private houses.
Gower Street may not be the most popular or well known areas of Hollywood, but it’s played a big role in its history. This humble road was home to the very first motion picture studio was built here, the Christie Studios, founded by Al Christie in 1911. It later became the location of major players like Paramount Pictures, Sunset-Gower Studios (occuping the former lot of Columbia Pictures). The Oz Film Manufacturing Company also used to stand here, before it was bought out by Paramount.
Gower St’s Columbia Drugstore was also the favorite hangout of young movie stars who loved the soda fountain. They would also buy their hometown magazines and newspapers from the vendor outside the store.
So who’s Gower? He was not a producer, or an actor. Actually, he was a farmer who brought in the area’s first farming equipment — back when Hollywood was mostly pastureland. In the 1930s Hollywood actors called the place “Gower Gulch”. It was the height of the Western films and many extras would walk around in their cowboy costumes. A mall named “Gower Gulch” now stands here.
There are easier ways to get pictures of celebrities than to crouch hidden in the bushes. Just go to the restaurants where they hang out. Just be prepared to pay — these celebrity hang outs charge an arm and a leg for their food, though (if you’re lucky) the “view” could be excellent.
Some legendary Hollywood hangouts are Chasen’s and Spago’s. This is where A-list celebrities go for a quick lunch between takes, or meet with reporters for their magazine interviews. Restaurants like Morton’s serve as Hollywood’s unofficial power center. Here agents, producers, and other deal-makers negotiate million-dollar deals.
Some, such as the Hotel Bel-Air, entice their wealthy celebrity clientele with sheer luxury.
Still others are well-kept secrets; modest, inexpensive places like Nate & Al’s Deli or Patrick’s Roadhouse, where the stars go simply because they like the food (or the company).
This is the world’s most famous theater — and a must-see for any Hollywood tourist.
It was first opened in 1927, and since then, it’s been visited by millions of people. There are plans to improve its facilities and turn it into a state of the art entertainment complex. Some are even lobbying to make it the permanent home of the Academy Awards.
Until that happens, guests are already happy to look at the handprints outside, especially since there’s no charge. You can also watch some of Hollywood’s first motion pictures. (The sound quality is incredible, and the screen really makes you think that you’re jumping into another era.)
True Hollywood trivia addicts can look at the full list of handprint ceremonies or even buy the book.