West Hollywood, which began as Sherman, a rail yard town, played an integral role in creating the "Hollywood" film industry while it grew up alongside the fashionable Beverly Hills to house the service industries needed by these wealthy neighbors. During Prohibition, the still unincorporated area was the site of the entertainment industry's watering holes and gambling parlors, and nicknames such as the "Sinful Drag," "The Adult Playground," and "Hollywood's Soul" were bestowed upon West Hollywood's world-famous Sunset Strip, where today's visitors can still dance in the footsteps of legends like Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks Sr. As time marched on, the predominantly renter, Jewish, gay, and senior citizen residents of the progressive-minded area determined to step out of the shadows of nearby communities and create a city of their own, an effort that caused some controversy but resulted in the incorporation of West Hollywood in 1984. Since incorporation West Hollywood has been a beacon of hope, drawing refugees from Russia and around the world to its tolerant streets.
Author Bio: Illustrated with more than 200 historic photographs drawn from the archives of the city, the Sherman Library, and area universities, as well as the private collections of longtime residents, this new retrospective pays tribute to the people, places, and events that have shaped the history of this unique community and continue to move it towards the future. Local journalist and historian Ryan Gierach is an active member of the West Hollywood community.
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