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Hooray for Hollywood's Unlikely History
Today, Hollywood is such a huge name that the mere mention conjures up ideas of the rich and famous, the movie industry, scripts, producers, actors, and agents. It’s hard to imagine a time when that wasn’t the case. But the strange truth is that Hollywood came about as a way for moviemakers to avoid restrictive legislation that prevented them from making their films elsewhere.
In the early 1900s, the majority of filmmaking occurred in, of all places, New Jersey. The patents to most film cameras and movie-making equipment were held by Thomas Edison, who kept tight control over them and, through them, the people who could make films. Law enforcement, legal threats, and sometimes outright thuggery were used to shut down anyone who tried to make movies without his consent.
To avoid this stifling industry, filmmakers began moving away from New Jersey. By putting plenty of geographical distance between themselves and the Motion Picture Patents Company, they found much greater freedom since the lawsuits and patent disputes were harder to enforce.
So the movie industry moved out west to Hollywood, which at the time was a small agricultural region with no notion of the bright lights in its future. The lack of restrictions, the surrounding dramatic landscape, and the consistently hot, dry weather made filming there a great success.
By 1915 many motion-picture companies had abandoned the east coast in favor of setting up in Hollywood. The town went from strength to strength as the industry grew, and these days the name is synonymous with success and stardom.