LAistory: The Ugliest Building in Los Angeles
In 2007, Curbed LA named Hollywood and Highland the ugliest building in Los Angeles. From many (if not most) angles, they have a point. But In the center of this ode to modern consumerism is a secret, a reference to the glamor and debauchery that are Hollywood's past. It started, as all the best secrets do, a long, long time ago.
In 1916, D.W. Griffith made Intolerance, his response to the widely maligned Birth of a Nation (which basically resuscitated the flagging Ku Klux Klan by portraying them as heroes). At the time of its production, Intolerance was the most expensive movie ever made. Its famous Babylon set was built right on Sunset Boulevard.
The Babylonian part of the movie in particular, was felt to be racy and over the top, with thousands of scantily clad extras, scandalizing the remnants of Victorian social mores and contributing to Hollywood's growing reputation as a den of sin.
Infamy, however, wasn't enough to bring audiences back after Birth of a Nation. It bombed at the box office, causing Griffith's production company to go bankrupt.
The Babylon set was abandoned and fell into deeper and deeper disrepair. In 1919, it was declared a fire hazard and torn down.