Hollywood is a neighborhood in Los Angeles, California. Hollywood is also the center of the American film industry, making it perhaps the most potent center of cultural influence seen since Paris dominated the world of fashion, arts, and literature in the 18th and 19th centuries. Hollywood owes its existence to two important features: first, the weather is mild and pleasant for most of the year and second, because of its distance from New Jersey.
New Jersey was the first film center in the United States, owing to the simple fact that Thomas Edison lived in New Jersey and he held many patents regarding the new technology. He and other early film producers formed a powerful monopoly on the East Coast, where they spent much time and effort trying to stamp out the many small independent producers. To evade Edison and his lawyers, a number of these businesses relocated to Hollywood, Los Angeles, where they were to shortly put Edison and his cronies out of business.
The period of 1927 to 1948 was the "Golden Age of Hollywood." Five major studios dominated the industry. The studios created the "star system," in which they heavily promoted their actors and actresses, making them household names while keeping them in ironclad contracts. The system was eventually broken when the actors began refusing to sign the contracts and instead created their own production companies. During this period Hollywood produced hundreds of movies, some of which were great, many more of which were mediocre or worse.
While Hollywood has diminished somewhat in power and influence, it is still home to many of the major motion picture and television production companies, and it still remains a strong exporter of American culture the worldwide.