Memorial Day special: Origins of Wilshire and Hollywood Boulevards

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Wilshire Blvd. is arguably the most important boulevard in Los Angeles today, says Kevin Roderick, author of “Wilshire Blvd: Grand Concourse of Los Angeles.” Photo by Mike Schlitt.

On this holiday, Greater LA replays two episodes of our “What’s In a Street Name?” series. Gaylord Wilshire — a land speculator, billboard tycoon, failed politician and inventor — built Wilshire Boulevard, which became LA’s primary escape route from the horse-drawn era. But as the city got bigger, Gaylord Wilshire got smaller. 

A stroll through Hollywood history reveals over 100 years of boulevard branding. But can the “Main Street of the movies” maintain its historic integrity — and keep its small businesses alive — while absorbing billions of private investment dollars?