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The Sunset Strip is the name given to the mile-and-a-half (2.4 km) stretch of Sunset Boulevard that passes through West Hollywood, California. It extends from West Hollywood's eastern border with Hollywood at Havenhurst Drive, to its western border with Beverly Hills at Sierra Drive. The Strip is probably the best-known portion of Sunset, embracing boutiques, restaurants, rock clubs, and nightclubs that are on the cutting edge of the entertainment industry. It is also known for its trademark array of huge, colorful billboards.
In the celebrity-studded hills above the Sunset Strip, are some of the most exclusive and coveted residences in Los Angeles and the West Coast. The highest concentration of celebrities living in Los Angeles are in this part of the Hollywood Hills, located just above Sunset Boulevard, from Kings Road, to Sunset Plaza Drive, to Doheny Drive. Homes in this area generally range from $3–15 million, providing incomparable privacy and breathtaking views of the entire Los Angeles Basin.
Some celebrities living in the Hollywood Hills above the Sunset Strip include Halle Berry, Christina Aguilera, Cameron Diaz, Paris Hilton, Rod Stewart, Tim Gaines, Leonardo DiCaprio, Megan Mullally, Keanu Reeves, Keiran Lee, Robbie Williams, Byron Allen, Joey Pollari, Seth Rogen, Ryan Phillippe, Buck Henry, Dido, José Eber, Nicky Hilton, Al Pacino, Jeff Goldblum, Jewel, Brad Garrett, James Franco, Reggie Bush, Dane Cook, Christina Applegate, John Frusciante, James Woods, Morrissey, and Michael Bublé.
As the Strip lies outside of the Los Angeles city limits and was an unincorporated area under the jurisdiction of the County of Los Angeles, the area fell 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 concentration of nightlife than Los Angeles would tolerate, and in the 1920s a number of nightclubs and casinos moved in along the Strip, which attracted movie people to this less-restricted area; alcohol was served in back rooms during Prohibition.
Glamour and glitz defined the Strip in the 1930s and the 1940s, as its renowned restaurants and nightclubs became a playground for the rich and famous. There were movie legends and power brokers, and everyone of significance danced to stardom at such legendary clubs as Ciro's, the Mocambo and the Trocadero. Some of its expensive nightclubs and restaurants were said to be owned by gangsters like Mickey Cohen, earning the Strip a place in Raymond Chandler's 1949 Philip Marlowe novel, The Little Sister. Other spots on the strip associated with Hollywood include the Garden of Allah apartments — Hollywood quarters for transplanted writers like Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, and F. Scott Fitzgerald — and Schwab's Drug Store.
By the early 1960s, the Strip lost favor with the majority of movie people, but its restaurants, bars and clubs continued to serve as an attraction for locals and tourists. In the mid-1960s and 1970s it became a major gathering-place for the counterculture — and the scene of the Sunset Strip curfew riots in the winter of 1966, involving police and crowds of beatniks, serving as the inspiration for the Buffalo Springfield song "For What It's Worth."
In the 1960s and 1970s the Strip became a haven for music groups. Bands such as Led Zeppelin, The Doors, The Byrds, 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. In July 1965 Go-Go dancers also began performing. The Hyatt West Hollywood (now known as the Andaz West Hollywood) became a notable hotel.
In the early 1970s a popular hangout for glam rock musicians and groupies was Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco. The 1979 Donna Summer song "Sunset People" from the album Bad Girls, was about the nightlife on Sunset Boulevard. Also, throughout the 1970s, much like New York City's Times Square, the Strip became a haven for sleaze and prostitution. 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 glam metal and heavy metal scenes throughout the 1980s, hosting groups including Van Halen, Mötley Crüe, Quiet Riot, Ratt, Poison, L.A. Guns, Guns N' Roses and Whitesnake.
With the increase in rents in the area during the 1980s and the decline of the glam 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, where bands are charged a fee to play at clubs, diminished its appeal to groups, other than as an industry showcase. Today the music industry establishment continues to dominate the clubs on the Strip.
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 the hotel industry.
77 Sunset Strip, a successful 1958–1964 TV series, was set on the Strip between La Cienega Boulevard and Alta Loma Road, although the address was fictional as street numbers there run in the 7000-8000s. Less remembered is a second crime drama, Dan Raven, starring Skip Homeier, which aired on NBC during calendar year 1960, also set on the Sunset Strip. Dan Raven featured several celebrities, including Bobby Darin, Marty Ingels, and Paul Anka, appearing as themselves.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip was a behind-the-scenes television drama of a late-night comedy sketch show performed at a fictional theater on the Strip.
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