Although Los Angeles is packed with people, it still manages to keep a few things under wraps regarding its name, most prestigious neighborhood, previous celebrity residents — even the recognizable Hollywood sign isn’t what it seems.
There are a few secrets the city has kept from even long-time residents. Here are eight things we bet you never knew about Los Angeles:
The Hollywood Sign Is Not What You Think
Initially constructed for the purpose of advertising suburban real estate, the Hollywood sign that we see today is only part of the original billboard. Harry Chandler, publisher at the Los Angeles Times, decided to invest in a real estate development plan in the area. He and his partner footed the $21,000 bill ($250,000 by today’s standards) to construct a flashing sign which read "Hollywoodland." The Great Recession tanked the real estate plot and the city halted the expensive upkeep of the sign. Some people even wanted to scrap it altogether, but instead, the Chamber of Commerce decided to remove the last four letters (“land”) which made the restoration process more affordable.
You Can Spend the Night With Marilyn Monroe’s Ghost
Marilyn Monroe called one of the Roosevelt Hotel's suites home for two years during her modeling career. Although she died in her home and not in the hotel, it’s said that her ghost has been spotted in her old suite, #1200. In fact, reports of her ghost shocking guests by appearing in the suite’s full length mirror became so detrimental to the hotel’s reputation that management removed the mirror to prevent losing customers. The mirror now hangs in the lobby. Are you brave enough to spend the night in suite 1200?
It’s The Birth Place of In-N-Out Burger
The most popular burger joint on the west coast was born in the Los Angeles suburb of Baldwin Park in 1948 by Harry and Esther Snyder, a husband and wife team. It quickly grew to become the Southwest’s favorite fast food chain. The company, which is run today by the Snyder’s grandchild, Lynsi Snyder, has never gone public, proving just how important quality customer service is to this family-run business. They’re also one of the only fast food joints in the nation to pay their employees more than minimum wage. Animal-style fries and an $11.62 starting hourly wage? We’re sold.
Los Angeles Was Not Always 'Los Angeles'
There’s some (a lot) of dispute over the city’s original name, but what everyone agrees on is that El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reyna de los Ángeles (or some version of that) is a real mouthful. Translated as "The Town of the Queen of Angels," the city was named in the 18th century by Spanish explorers and later adopted by Mexican settlers.
It’s Sitting on A Gold Mine
Actually, it’s more of an oil field than a gold mine, and it translates to big bucks for the city. Sitting on the third largest oil field in the country, Los Angeles was once producing one quarter of the world’s oil. You wouldn’t know it now since the oil production has moved off shore or into centralized locations, but L.A. is still a major player in the nation’s oil production.
Beverly Hills Wasn’t Always so Glitzy
The name alone conjures images of a celebrity-studded Rodeo Drive, luxurious dining and mansions. But it wasn’t all glitz and glamour up in the Hills. The area started out as a cattle and horse ranch in the mid-18th century and was later converted into a lima bean farm.
It Hosts Movie Night in the Cemetery
And not just any cemetery. The Hollywood Forever Cemetery is the final resting place for many of the entertainment industry’s greatest stars. Looney Tunes voice actor Mel Blanc (whose gravestone echoes the famous sign-off line “that’s all, folks”) is buried here alongside George Harrison of The Beatles, Johnny Ramone of The Ramones, actresses Jayne Mansfield and Judy Garland and many more. Cinespia capitalizes on this age-old Hollywood star power by hosting weekly outdoor movie screenings inside the famous landmark — truly an experience not to be missed.
It’s the Land of Area Codes
Los Angeles County has the most area codes in the U.S. The seven areas codes are 213 (the original), 310, 323, 424, 626, 747, and 818. Why so many? The large number of area codes is attributed to an ever-growing population and, back in the day, a soaring number of fax machines, landlines, computer modems, pagers and car phones.