Sunset Strip

From Academic Kids

The Sunset Strip is a mile and a half stretch of Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, California, that runs from Crescent Heights Boulevard in Hollywood to Doheny Drive in West Hollywood. The Strip is probably the best known portion of Sunset, embracing a premier collection of boutiques, restaurants, rock clubs and nightclubs that are on the cutting edge of the entertainment business, along with huge, colorful billboards that are one of its trademarks.

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Sunset Strip, Los Angeles, California

As the Strip lies west of the Los Angeles city limits and was an unincorporated area under the jurisdiction of the County of Los Angeles, the area was under the less vigilant jurisdiction of the Sheriff's Department rather than the heavy hand of the LAPD. It was illegal to gamble in the city but legal in "the county." This fostered the building of a rather wilder center of nightlife than Los Angeles would tolerate and in the 1920s a lot of nightclubs and casinos went in along the Strip, which attracted movie people to this less restricted area, with alcohol served in back rooms during Prohibition.

Glamour and glitz defined the Strip in the 1930s and the 1940s, with its renowned restaurants and clubs, which became a playground for the rich and famous. There were movie legends and power brokers, and everyone who was anyone danced into stardom at such legendary clubs as Ciro's, the Mocambo and the Trocadero. And some of its expensive nightclubs and restaurants were said to be owned by gangsters like Mickey Cohen. Other spots on the strip associated with Hollywood include the Garden of Allah apartments and Schwab's Drugstore.

By the early 1960s, the Strip lost favor with the majority of movie people. But its restaurants, bars and clubs, continued to be an attraction for locals and out-of-town tourists. In the mid-1960s and the 1970s, it became a major center for the counterculture as Go-Go dancers did their thing at such spots as the Whisky A Go-Go. Bands like The Doors, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield (whose song For What It's Worth was about a police riot in the summer of 1966 against hippies), Love, The Seeds, Frank Zappa and many others played at clubs like the Whisky A Go-Go, the Roxy, Pandora's Box and the London Fog (now the Viper Room, where River Phoenix would later die of a heroin overdose). Also, every important rock band who came to Los Angeles would play at these clubs.

The Strip continued to be a major focus for punk rock and new wave during the late 1970s, and it became the center of the colorful hair metal scene throughout the 1980s. With the increase in rents in the area during the 1980s, however, and the decline of the hair metal scene in the early 1990s, the Sunset Strip ceased to be a major area for up and coming rock bands without industry sponsorship. The adoption of "pay to play" tactics, in which bands were charged a fee to play at clubs like the Roxy, the Whisky and Gazzari's (now the Key Club), also diminished the appeal to rock bands other than as an industry showcase. The music industry dominates clubs on the Strip such as those mentioned above, and only major acts perform at the House of Blues. Thus, during the 1990s, the center of more alternative music activity in Los Angeles shifted further east to areas like Silverlake, Los Feliz and Echo Park.

In November 1984, voters in West Hollywood passed a proposal on the ballot to incorporate and the area became an independent city. Increasingly, the western end of the Strip is occupied by office buildings, mostly catering to the entertainment industry, and expensive hotels. This area seems to have become an adjunct of Beverly Hills only with more nightlife activity, much of it more and more upscale.

Many celebrities can still be seen on the strip, especially on its western end, and quite a few live in the area, the nearby Hollywood Hills and Laurel Canyon.

In the evening, the Strip is a vibrant slash of neon, a virtual traffic jam of young cruisers on weekends and a mecca for people-watchers and celebrity wannabes.

See also: 77 Sunset Strip for the successful TV series.


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