Hollywood Walk (Self Guided), Los Angeles

Hollywood, LA's by far most famous district, is a popular destination for sightseeing and nightlife. It is also a historic center of film making. Paramount Studios, the only large film studio still operational in Hollywood, and the iconic Walk of Fame, are just some of the district's major attractions. To see what else the famous area has to offer, follow this self-guided walking tour and find out.
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Hollywood Walk Map

Guide Name: Hollywood Walk
Guide Location: USA » Los Angeles (See other walking tours in Los Angeles)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.2 Km or 3.2 Miles
Author: ashley
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • The Capitol Records Building
  • Knickerbocker Hotel
  • Hollywood Palladium
  • Hollywood Athletic Club
  • Musso & Frank Grill
  • Hollywood Wax Museum
  • Hollywood Museum
  • Crossroads of the World
  • Charlie Chaplin Studios
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame
The Capitol Records Building

1) The Capitol Records Building

One of the most popular landmarks in Los Angeles is the Capitol Records Building on Vine Street. This is the home Capitol Studios’ recording studios and echo chambers.

The building is on the List of Registered Historical Places in Los Angeles. It was designed in 1956 by Welton Beck, who rather shockingly at that time, flew in the face of superstition and gave his building 13 storeys. It was the first circular office structure in the world, but Beck wasn’t too pleased when people said it looked like a stack of records with a gramophone needle on the top.

The “gramophone needle” is actually a slender spire with a light on top that flashes out the word “Hollywood” in Morse code. It was switched on by Samuel Morse’s granddaughter, Leila. The “stack of records” look is created by the curved awning over the windows on each floor.

The rectangular building at the base of the tower was added later and on the south wall is a wonderful mural called Hollywood Jazz, depicting various artists such as Nat King Cole and Billie Holiday. In front of the building are the Walk of Fame stars of some of the artists who recorded at Capitol Records, including John Lennon and the famous Country Music singer Garth Brooks.
Knickerbocker Hotel

2) Knickerbocker Hotel

The Knickerbocker Hotel stands on North Ivar Avenue and today it is a residence for the elderly, but once it played an important role in the lives of several actors and musicians and is reputedly one of the most haunted buildings in Los Angeles.

It was built in 1925 in a Spanish Colonial Revival style by E.M. Frasier and it soon became a popular rendezvous for Hollywood stars. Rudolf Valentino used to drink in the hotel’s bar and tango the night away with a lot of willing partners. Marylyn Monroe used to meet Joe DiMaggio in the same bar and they spent their wedding night in one of the rooms.

Frank Sinatra, Lana Turner, Laurel and Hardy and Elvis Presley all stayed in the hotel during its heyday. It was a lively, swinging place, but it was also the scene of many dramas that eventually led to it being labelled as haunted.

Between 1927 and 1936 Houdini’s wife held a séance on the roof every Hallowe’en, trying to get in touch with the great escapologist who died on the 31st October 1926. In 1943 Francis Farmer, who had been involuntarily committed to a mental institution, hid here before being captured and dragged from the hotel; in 1948 the film director D.W. Griffiths suffered a massive stroke in his room, he died on the way to the hospital. In 1962 Irene Gibbons, a costume designer committed suicide by throwing herself out of her 11th floor window. In 1966 the character actor William Fawley died in the hotel’s lobby.

In 1970 the hotel, which had declined with the rest of the neighbourhood, was renovated and turned into a residence for the elderly. The bar, which was believed to be haunted, was boarded up until the mid nineteen nineties, when it reopened for a brief period as the “Star Theatre Café and Speakeasy”. Among the ghosts said to wander are Rudolf Valentino, Marylyn Monroe and an unidentified man who wanders the corridors. There have also been reports of lights going on and off at odd moments and objects moving by themselves.
Hollywood Palladium

3) Hollywood Palladium

Hollywood Palladium, a theater in Sunset Boulevard boasting a distinctive Streamline Moderne, Art Deco style, has been a listed historic monument since 2016. The theater comprises a spacious 11,200 square foot (1040 m²) dance floor and a mezzanine, and has a floor level room for up to 4,000 people. Reopened after renovation in October 2009, Hollywood Palladium, apart from being a major concert hall, is also often used as a venue for awards shows and celebrity parties.
Hollywood Athletic Club

4) Hollywood Athletic Club

The Hollywood Athletic Club is a nightclub on Sunset Boulevard and it has a fascinating history and a long connection with some of the world’s greatest stars.

The building was designed and constructed by the Meyer and Holler architectural company in 1924. It was commissioned by Charlie Chaplin, Cecil B. de Mille, Lou Chaney and Rudolph Valentino as a gentleman’s sport’s club.

It was a favourite health spa for Johnny Weissmuller, who used its swimming pool to train between Tarzan films. It was also frequented by Douglas Fairbanks, Walt Disney and Errol Flynn, among others. Although it was a “gentleman’s” club, some pretty rowdy parties took place here too and it opened its doors at those times to women: Mary Pickford and Mae West were frequent visitors.

In the years after the building’s closure as a sports club, it became part of the University of Judaism and little by little it fell into disrepair when the university moved into a new building. It was bought in 1978 by Gary Berwin, who carefully restored it to its original beauty.

He also bought a Spanish-style house and bungalows on an adjoining lot and rented them out to stars and companies, such as Island Records. The new Club became famous for its parties where Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Paul Newman and Michael J. Fox were regular guests.

In 1984, Gary Berwin wanted to expand his holdings and put the club onto the market. Joe Jackson (Michael Jackson’s father) put in an offer to buy a part of the complex, but negotiations fell through and Berwin found another buyer. For a brief period during the nineteen nineties it was once again a nightclub, but closed when the lease ran out.

Since 2006, the club has been revamped and now Peter Famulari’s Boulevard3 Nightclub stands on the site. Another part of the building is used as a film set.
Musso & Frank Grill

5) Musso & Frank Grill

If you want to have a good meal in a restaurant that seems to transport you back to the early 20th century, then the Musso and Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard is the place for you.

The restaurant was opened in 1919 and although it has been renovated several times over its ninety-two years, it has kept its original look and atmosphere. You will find here the same oak beamed ceilings, red-leather booths, mahogany bar – and the same wonderful dry Martinis!

It was a favourite haunt of great writers who had been hooked into screenwriting by various unscrupulous movie moguls who used flattery to get them to work for low pay in cramped quarters on their studio back lots. F. Scott Fitzgerald used to drown his sorrows here; Raymond Chandler, William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway met here to grouse about how their great works were being mangled by insensitive directors and to plot revenge on them. Faulkner told his studio head that he wanted to work from home. His boss agreed and after several fruitless calls to his Hollywood apartment, someone remembered that the writer lived in Mississippi!

Charlie Chaplin and his great friend Douglas Fairbanks used to dine here regularly, once they held a horse race on Hollywood Boulevard with Rudolph Valentino, the loser had to pick up the restaurant bill.

Today you can enjoy good home cooking and some rather “daring” Continental dishes such as Bouillabaisse. The menu is extensive and includes fish, sea-food, chicken pot pie, steaks, roasts, pasta dishes and braised ribs. If you want a snack there is a good choice of hot and cold sandwiches, omelettes, salads and soups.
Hollywood Wax Museum

6) Hollywood Wax Museum

Situated on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood Wax Museum is one of the most popular Los Angeles attractions. This well-known museum was opened in 1965. It is argued to be the only museum in the US that is entirely dedicated to celebrities. The museum features replicas of movie stars such as Angelina Jolie, Johny Depp, Kirsten Dunst as well as television stars and personalities.
Hours: Monday-Thursday,Sunday: 9:00 am – 12:00 am, Friday,Saturday- 9:00 am- 1:00 am.
Hollywood Museum

7) Hollywood Museum (must see)

The Hollywood Museum is a fascinating place to learn about the “Dream Factory”, from its beginnings to the present day.

The museum is located on Highland Avenue and is housed in the Max Factor Building. The exhibitions cover 35,000 square feet, spread out over four floors, but for all that the place is filled to overflowing with clothes, art designs, sets, make-up, and special effects.

The entrance foyer has kept its original Art Deco style, with white and rose marble, chandeliers and antique furniture, delicately adorned in gold and silver leaf. On this floor is the exhibition of Max Factor’s make-up studio and a black and white photo gallery with over 1000 photos of stars from the silent movies to the present and stills from films such as The Planet of the Apes (original version) and Jurassic Park.

The basement was once a speakeasy during the Prohibition and a bowling alley. Today it is the “Chamber of Horrors” with a replica of the stage set from the film The Silence of the Lambs. It is rather creepy, as it features the cell corridor Judy Foster walked along to reach Hannibal Lecter’s cell, in which you can see props from the film and the gruesome mask Hannibal was made to wear.

The first and second floors are given over to historical and modern costumes, souvenirs donated by the great stars, movie advertising posters, props, another photo gallery, an example of the 1st Technicolor film and a Roman bed that was used in “Gladiator”.

Why You Should Visit:
Looks like the most touristy of attractions, but if you love movies, this is a treasure of real costumes, props, and memorabilia.
Definitely not geared for very young children, but adults and teens will enjoy it.

Talk to the staff! Many have worked in the business and have great stories to tell.

Opening Hours:
Wed-Sun: 10am–5pm
Crossroads of the World

8) Crossroads of the World (must see)

The Crossroads of the World on Sunset Boulevard was once a thriving shopping centre. Although this is no longer the case today, it is still worth visiting.

The centre was designed in 1936 by Robert V. Derrah, around a central building that looks like an ocean liner with a 55ft spire topped by a revolving globe. Around this a series of cottage-like bungalows, all of different architecture, give the area a village-like atmosphere.

The Crossroads are classed as a Los Angeles Historic/Cultural Monument and are on the National Register of Historic Places, and it is easy to see why. The “Cape Cod” buildings are a group of small structures representing the best of Early American architecture with their tall pitched-shingle roofs and chimneys; the “European Village” are two houses facing each other; they have half-timbering, turret towers and dormer windows; the “Moorish” house has Arabic arches, stenciled geometric designs on the walls and a minaret.

The “Spanish” building has a lovely red-tiled roof, graceful arches and balconies with wrought-iron railings; the “French” building has beautiful stained glass windows, amazing trompe-l’oeil shutters and a fleur-de-lys in bas relief on the chimney. The “California Mediterranean” building has lovely hand-painted tiling and the “Italian” building has Venetian arches, Corinthian columns and a loggia.

The area is surrounded by cobblestone pavements, outdoor seating areas, a wishing well, fountains and even a lighthouse. The beautiful trees include a 100-year-old Valley Oak, fig, peach, walnut and palm trees.

Until the 1960s, these buildings housed a French perfumery, a beauty salon, an Oriental Arts and gift shop, a Spanish cigar-maker, a ladies dress-shop and a handkerchief shop. In 1977, the Crossroads were bought and restored by Morton la Kretz. Today they are the offices of scriptwriters, music publishers, producers, film companies and casting agencies.

Why You Should Visit:
To see an iconic bit of LA architecture featured in many movies and to go back to a simpler time in Hollywood.
If you're interested in buildings with history, it's nice to make a quick stop here.
Charlie Chaplin Studios

9) Charlie Chaplin Studios

When you pass the Charlie Chaplin Studios on La Brea Avenue, you would be excused if you thought that you were on the film-set of an English village.

Charlie Chaplin bought the vast tract of land that had once been an orange grove, in 1917, and built there his studios. The screening rooms, offices and film laboratory were housed in charming English-style cottages. The studios themselves included the back lot with its outdoor sets, twin open-air stages, carpenter’s shed, garages, film vault and dressing rooms.

On the north end of the land Charlie Chaplin built a lovely house which he intended for his own use, although he never lived there in the end and rented it out to various friends. The house had adjoining stables, a swimming pool and tennis courts. He eventually sold the house and surrounding land, and the buildings were demolished in 1942 to give way to a new shopping centre.

Before selling the studios in 1953, Charlie Chaplin turned some of his best films here, including “The Kid”, “The Gold Rush”, “The Great Dictator” and “Modern Times”. Sadly, America was soon to be deprived of its beloved “little Tramp with a Heart of Gold”: during the dark years of the McCarthy Era many Hollywood stars suffered greatly for their mild communist leanings. Charlie Chaplin was considered to be a “Pinko” for his left wing views and when he went to England in 1952 for a short holiday, Hoover, the director of the FBI, had his right to re-enter the United States revoked, and Chaplin settled in Switzerland.

He sold the studios in 1953 to a television company. In 1959, Red Skelton bought the studios and sold them to CBS in 1962. Since 2000 the studios have been the home of the Jim Henson Company and his delightful Muppets.

Charlie Chaplin returned once to the United States. In 1972, he came back with his wife to receive an Honorary Oscar, but he refused to visit his old studios, saying the memory was “too painful”.
Hollywood Walk of Fame

10) Hollywood Walk of Fame (must see)

The Hollywood Walk of Fame is spread out over 15 blocks on Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks on Vine Street. It is the most visited area of Los Angeles with over 10 million visitors every year.

The idea first started in 1952, but the final design wasn’t agreed on until 1956. There are over 2500 stars to be seen and about 20 are added every year. The five-point stars are cast in pink terrazzo and edged in brass. This is then embedded in a dark grey terrazzo block and set into the pavement. A great deal of ceremony is attached to this and the honored person is invited to the ceremony and presented with a small replica to take home.

On the upper part of the star is the person’s name written in brass; on the lower part is a symbol depicting one of the five categories the person falls into: A classic film camera represents films; a television receiver represents television programmes including everything from soap operas to documentary films; the radio microphone is of course for radio broadcasts; the comedy/tragedy masks represent the theatre and live performances, and the phonograph record is for the music world.

These permanent monuments are administrated by the Chamber of Commerce who decides which actor, director, producer, theatre company, musician and even fictional character should receive this honor. One has two choices when visiting the Walk of Fame: either just wander along looking at all the stars, or buying a guide to tell you where your favorite stars are placed.

To enjoy it and to avoid the crazy crowd, go early between 10am-3pm.
If you want to take a snap with any of the people dressing as a character, then be ready to pay cash for it.

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