Hollywood, Florida may be be the twelfth largest city in Florida with a population of 146,526, but it also has plenty of small town historic charm that makes it deserve a place on Florida Backroads Travel.
Joseph W. Young, Jr. first came to south Florida in 1920 from the state of Washington. He had also lived in California and liked what he had seen of Hollywood, California and the burgeoning movie industry in that state.
He dreamed of creating a motion picture industry on the east coast, and founded Hollywood, Florida in 1920. His timing coincided with the beginning of a real estate land boom that was sweeping Florida.
Unlike many developers of his time, Young had been inspired by professional city planners and decided to design a city that would be not only resident friendly but beautiful. A lot of his ideas came from what he had seen in California and from an Amercian architect and urban planner named Daniel Burnham.
Burnham's work was the major influence on the layout and development of Chicago more than a century ago.
Burnham's famous quote is "Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will not themselves be realized."
Today's Hollywood shows the indelible touches of Young's belief in Burnham's quote. The city has been thoughfully planned with broad boulevards, landscaped traffic circles and architecturally magnificent homes and commercial buildings.
Young originally named his town "Hollywood by the Sea".
Young's own Mediterranean styled mansion was built in 1921 and still stands at 1055 Hollywood Boulevard, the main thoroughfare from downtown Hollywood to Hollywood Beach. The mansion is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
The downtown area of Hollywood is along Hollywood Boulevard east of Interstate 95 and between the railroad tracks and U.S.-1. This district has been redeveloped and is a haven of retail shops and restaurants. It captures part of the small town feeling that makes Hollywood different than many large Florida cities.
Hollywood Beach is at the eastern terminus of Hollywood Boulevard. The focal point of Hollywood Beach is the grand old Hollywood Beach Resort, opened in 1925 and designed to be the centerpiece of Young's new city. It still dominates the oceanfront at the end of Hollywood Boulevard as it leaves the mainland to cross the Intracoastal Waterway.
It doesn't look much different from the 1950s postcard above, but a lot has grown up around it since then
One of the greatest new features north and south of the old hotel resort is the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk. No, that is not a typo. Any oceanfront community can have a boardwalk, but only Hollywood beach has a broadwalk.
This large brick paved thoroughfare runs 2.5 miles along the ocean and is a paradise for runners, walkers, bikers (the pedal kind) and is lined with all kinds of apartments, condos, shops and restaurants.