The stars may work at the movie studios in Hollywood and the Valley, but most of them live in the posh residential neighborhoods of L.A.'s west side: Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, Brentwood, and the Malibu Colony.
Sunset Boulevard, one of the world's most famous streets, was born as a route between those two divergent worlds. The Boulevard still links the sometimes gritty, urban streets of downtown Hollywood to the lush, green, residential avenues of Beverly Hills.
A drive west along Sunset allows you to experience a little of both worlds.
The name Sunset Boulevard has become a part of Hollywood legend, the inspiration for countless songs, movies & TV shows.
But what about the real Sunset Boulevard?
Sunset Blvd is a long, winding thoroughfare which begins in downtown Los Angeles, near Olvera Street (the birthplace of the city), and runs westward over 20 miles to the blue Pacific.
Along the way, Sunset Boulevard passes through Hollywood (just two blocks south of Hollywood Boulevard), then becomes the Sunset Strip as it passes through West Hollywood, weaves its way through Beverly Hills and Bel-Air, and finally winds its way through the rustic foothills of the Santa Monica mountains, to finally end at the Pacific Ocean near Malibu. Over the course of those 20 miles, the boulevard's personality undergoes several radical transformations...
Let's take a trip west along Sunset...
There are dozens of Hollywood attractions located along the 20 miles of Sunset Boulevard. Here is an overview of some of those points of interest, beginning on Sunset's east side, near the Hollywood Freeway, and heading west to the Strip:
addresses are on the south side of Sunset Boulevard.
Farther west, but still east of the Hollywood Freeway, was KCET Studios (4401 Sunset Blvd.) in Hollywood, which offered a free guided tour of its historic lot. Unfortunately, they sold the studio in 2011.
5746 Sunset Boulevard (at the SE corner of Van Ness) in Hollywood is the former location of the
Fox Network / KTTV Studios,
where they taped "Maude," "One Day at a Time"
and "The Jeffersons."
However, Fox moved to the West Side,
and a large new school was built on the site. But the Hollywood
connection hasn't completely disappeared. For most of its later
seasons, the TV show "Glee", shot their outdoor high school scenes at this school.
next door is KTLA
Studios (5800 W. Sunset Boulevard) at the
SW corner of Van Ness; it's the oldest TV station in Los Angeles, and was
formerly the old Warner Bros Studio, where Hollywood's first
talkie, "The Jazz Singer", was filmed in 1927. (The exterior of the studio showed up recently in the movie "Walk of Shame".) (323) 460-5500
east of Gower Street is the gated entrance to Sunset
Gower Studios (1438 Gower
Street), formerly the original studio for Columbia Pictures,
and now an independent studio where a number of popular TV shows are filmed,
including "Dexter". (323) 467-1001
the southwest corner of Gower & Sunset (between Gower & El Centro,
across Gower from the Sunset-Gower Studios) is a small Western-themed shopping
center named "Gower Gulch,"
complete with an "Assay Office," and simple stores. This center
took its name from the unique history of this Hollywood intersection, where
a number of movie studios were once clustered. So many movie
extras used to hang out in the area in search of work, dressed in cowboy
costumes, that the area was nicknamed "Gower Gulch."
little to the west, at El Centro Avenue, is Columbia Square
(6121 Sunset), a smallish CBS studio, which, during the radio era, was the site of countless radio broadcasts, such as The Jack Benny Show and the Burns & Allen show, often done before live audiences. Until recently, the studio contained
the CBS network's local affiliates: KCBS TV (Channel 2), & KNX
This landmark is currently being redeveloped as an ongoing project; the
existing buildings have been retained, with new structures being built
around them. (Don't confuse this with the much larger CBS
TV City, at Beverly & Fairfax.) (323)
6215 Sunset (just two blocks east of Vine) is the Hollywood
Palladium, which used to feature a giant
figure of bandleader Lawrence Welk
waving his baton (his TV show was broadcast from here). It opened in 1940
as a Big Band dance club, with a Frank Sinatra concert. Its huge dance
floor could hold 4,000 people. Over the years, the giant auditorium hosted
countless Hollywood awards ceremonies, including the Grammys, the Emmys,
and the Golden Globes. Many rock acts have played here including The Rolling
Stones, the Grateful Dead, the Who, David
Bowie and the Clash. In 1973, Chuck
Berry kicked a guitarist off the stage here
for playing too loudly; he didn't know it was Keith
Richards of "The Rolling Stones"...
In 2008, they finished a multi-million dollar renovationof the old
building, bringing it up to date as a modern venue. (323)
the corner of southwest Sunset & Vine is Pacific's unique Cinerama Dome
theatre, as well as the more recent ArcLight thratres (6360 Sunset
Blvd). (323) 466-3401.
About half a mile west, and on the other side of the street, at Las Palmas, is the unique Crossroads
of the World center. (6671
Sunset ) (323) 463-5611.
next door to Crossroads is the Blessed
Sacrament Church (6657 Sunset), where
Bing Crosby was
heading west, and as you pass Highland you'll see the famous Hollywood High School
on your right side (1521 N. Highland Avenue.) Hollywood High
boasts an incredible number of celebrity alumni, from Judy Garland
and Lana Turner
to Carol Burnett.
At 7373 Sunset (in the same rough part of Hollywood) stood a Denny's restaurant which, for one reason or another, seemed to attract a celebrity/rock & roll crowd in the early AM hours, after wild Saturday nights. The "Go Go's" supposedly chose their name while dining here, while Peter Frampton, Blondie, and Van Halen have all dropped by now and then. Maybe it's the fact that Denny's never closes... Unfortunately, this one did. The space now houses an Aroma Bakery Cafe. (323) 876-6660
La Brea & Fairfax, you'll come to GUITAR CENTER and its "Rock Walk"
(7425 Sunset), featuring the handprints of world-famous
guitarists such as Chuck Berry
and Van Halen
immortalized in cement. (323) 874-1060
At 7439 Sunset (right next to Guitar Center) is The Sunset Grill, the formerly dingy little diner in a bad neighborhood which Don Henley sang about in his grim 1985 song of the same name. Fortunately, the area has improved a lot (you're far less likely to spot the "working girls" and "basket people" Henley sang about), and the Grill itself has been gentrified. But the menu still boasts low prices.
from the Sunset Strip, you enter the green world of Beverly Hills. At 9641
Sunset Boulevard, in Beverly Hills, is the "Pink Palace," the
Beverly Hills Hotel,
with its fabled Polo Lounge. (310) 276-2251
across the street from the Pink Palace (at 9650 Sunset) is
the Will Rogers
Memorial Park which has made the headlines due to the antics of
(Not to be confused with the much larger Will
Rogers Ranch.) (310) 285-2536
About two miles west of the Beverly Hills Hotel, and just a few blocks north of Sunset (near UCLA), is the wonderful
Hotel Bel-Air (at
701 Stone Canyon Road) in Bel-Air, home away from home for
Presidents, stars and royalty. (310) 472-1211
About seven miles farther west, as you near the ocean, at
14523 Sunset Boulevard (on the right side of the street) ypu'll find the entrance
to Will Rogers State Historic
Park, in Pacific Palisades, former ranch home of the cowboy humorist.
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