I recently visited Hollywood with some friends of mine. While there we took some time to walk along Hollywood Boulevard and look at the Walk of Fame. This stretch of sidewalk lined with stars and names for some of the world’s biggest celebrities is one of the most famous images of a tourist attraction in the world. A symbol of both Los Angeles and the film industry, this cultural icon is a fascinating part of Southern California.
The idea for the Walk of Fame was raised in 1953, by a man named E.M. Stuart. The project was meant to raise the national profile of Hollywood, and cement the film industry’s place in the cultural history of the area. This added to the fantasy of Los Angeles that we have been discussing in class, but in a slightly different way. As Los Angeles began to become more and more known for the culture of celebrity and the film industry, the city began to leverage this notoriety for economic gain. The idea that people could attain fame and fortune in Los Angeles drew huge numbers of residents to the city, while the trendiness and wealth of the city drew tourists and visitors.
This culture and idea of Los Angeles is taken for granted today, but the creation of the Walk of Fame happened at a time in which Los Angeles was still forging its own identity, and played a considerable role in that process. Sites like the Walk of Fame can be fun to visit, but they also often carry a hidden significance that is easily missed by the casual observer.