ognized, on strolls from the famous actresses as its pillars — and the Knickerbocker Hotel suite where he poorly designed Hollywood & THE STORY OF lived. Highland complex, along with myriad HOLLYWOOD By the 1950s, the decline of historic buildings wiped away. And he’s skeptical that, despite all the Gregory Paul Williams Hollywood was so great that the Chamber of Commerce tried to resusci- talk of Hollywood’s comeback, with BL Press; 416 Pgs.; $49.95 tate the district with the pink-terrazzo new hotels, condos and nightclubs ris- stars of the Walk of Fame, but it ulti- ing from places where klieg lights once By TED JOHNSON mately didn’t halt the exodus of studios beamed, it ultimately will mean much. and shoppers. Nor did the many other As he points out, the exodus continues: ooking like yet another nostal- schemes and projects through the years, Fox’s Wilton Place studios have been L gia-themed coffee table book, Gregory Paul Williams’ “The Story of Hollywood” is instead a ill-fated plans that promised way more that they could deliver. Williams, a puppeteer by trade who torn down, CBS is leaving its Art Deco Sunset studios and the Tribune Co.’s problems cast doubt on the future of its meticulously detailed, anecdote-filled was born and raised near the Hollywood studio, where Al Jolson shot the first urban history of Tinseltown, an ulti- sign, pins much of the blame on talkie, “The Jazz mately depressing tale of how one of misguided and policies Singer.” the world’s most famous places fell of city officials, partic- To u r i s t - m i n d e d into such a state of blight. ularly that of the boosters would certain- As anyone in Los Angeles knows, C o m m u n i t y ly disagree, and why Hollywood, the industry, long ago Redevelopment shouldn’t they? It’s detached from Hollywood, the place. Agency, as opposed to what area leaders have As early as the 1940s there were signs the studios that aban- always done best. “The of seediness, as once-elegant nightspots doned the industry’s Story of Hollywood” moved west to Sunset and Beverly California birthplace. outlines how hype cre- Hills, and Southern California’s auto He points to garish ated the world-famous culture siphoned middle-class residents public art displays — place, then did it in and, to the suburbs. By 1948, a downtrod- like a gazebo at ultimately, may be the den D.W. Griffith could be found wan- Hollywood & La Brea key to reviving its long dering Hollywood Boulevard, unrec- with statuettes of tarnished image.