Culver City, California is “The City Where Hollywood Movies are Made.” This is because over 11,000 Hollywood movies and TV shows such as Jeopardy have been produced here in the last 100 years.
There’s no escaping the massive impact the movie industry has had and continues to exert on this city of barely 40,000 people at the southern edge of Los Angeles County. Both Culver City and Hollywood, which is barely eight miles to the northeast of Culver, are twin centers of the U.S. film industry.
Those traveling by road to Culver are welcomed by colorful road signs proclaiming “Culver City. The Heart of Screenland.” The city name is emblazoned on graphics representing a reel of film, hence making it hard not to make the connection between Culver City and movies.
Culver City celebrates the 100th year of its incorporation as a city on Sept. 20, 2017. It was founded by and is named after real estate magnate Harry H. Culver, a Nebraskan who migrated to Southern California to sell real estate. Culver announced his plans to build what would become Culver City in 1913. He, also, created the advertising slogan that made Culver famous: “All Roads Lead to Culver City.”
Culver City is located within Los Angeles County and occupies an area of just 13 square kilometers. The population is about 60% white (British and German descendants mainly); 20% Latino, 15% Asian (mostly Filipinos) and 10% African American.
Entertainment in Culver City
With so much emphasis on Culver’s role in the U.S. film industry, it’s inevitable that visitors first head to places associated with movies and TV. A top draw among tourists is the Sony Pictures Studio Tour, which is run by Sony Pictures Entertainment, the city’s largest employer.
The Sony Pictures Studio Tour is a two-hour guided walking tour that gives visitors a behind-the-scenes peek at a studio, where hundreds of popular movies and films have been made. Movies by the hundreds have been produced on the lots of Sony Pictures Studios (originally MGM Studios) and at the city’s two other studios: Culver Studios and the former Hal Roach Studios. Of the trio, once famous as “The Heart of Screenland,” only Sony Pictures Studios remains in operation.
The movies made by these three include classics, such as The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind and the original King Kong, while contemporary films include E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Raging Bull, City Slickers, Spider-Man, Killers and Moneyball. Culver City itself has “starred” in many Hollywood films. It was the location for productions of films like The Wonder Years, Bewitched and CHiPs.
Other Interesting Sites
Besides movies, Culver offers a host of other sites for the adventurous tourist. There’s the STAR Eco Station, which is an environmental science museum, a rescue center for 200 species of exotic wildlife and a haven for endangered and illegally trafficked animals, confiscated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Culver City Car Show held in the summer showcases hundreds of hot rods classic and cars from all over California. The 13 th Annual Cruisin’ Back to Culver City Car Show was held on May 7, 2016.
The historic Kirk Douglas Theatre, formerly named the Culver Theatre, is a performing arts center and theater. Most of the exterior has been preserved despite a multi-million dollar restoration project. This storied playhouse saw its heyday during the golden era of Hollywood and is renowned today for hosting stage productions.
Formerly owned by John Wayne, the storied Culver Hotel is an icon in downtown Culver City. The hotel’s been home to a galaxy of stars since it opened in 1924, including Ronald Reagan, Clark Gable and Greta Garbo. The cast of both Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz lived in the hotel while their movies were filming. This historical landmark was built by Harry H. Culver.
A pair of unique museums is well worth visiting. The Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum holds the largest collection of objects, documents and memorabilia on African-American history and culture in the U.S. On the other hand, the Wende Museum features a collection of visual art and artifacts from the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the German Democratic Republic.
Entertainment. With 3,200 employees, Sony Pictures Entertainment is the city’s largest employer. Its operation in Culver City includes motion picture production, TV production and distribution.
Operations for the western half of the U.S. are handled from the National Public Radio (NPR) office in Culver City. NPR operates as a national syndicator to a 900 public radio stations in the U.S. The headquarters of the NFL (National Football League) Network are located in Culver City. The network broadcasts NFL games to the world plus NFL-related content and documentaries.
Technology. Information technology and security company Symantec Corporation operates an office in Culver City, offering security and IT products. Beats Electronics, formerly Beats by Dre and now a division of Apple, Inc., operates out of the city. Its main products are headphones and speakers.
Higher education in Culver City is available at two institutions: West Los Angeles College and Antioch University Los Angeles (AULA).
Also called West L.A. College or WLAC, West Los Angeles College is a public community college offering two-year courses. Its campus is located at the western Baldwin Hills, which is just right next to Culver City. It offers Associate’s degrees, 18 vocational programs and 25 transfer programs.
AULA is a non-profit private liberal arts school located in Culver City. It is a campus of Antioch University based in Ohio, a private university with five campuses in the U.S.
Head for Culver City if you see yourself in the movie-making industry. Sony Pictures remains a force to contend with in the film industry and the entertainment industry remains at the heart of Culver City’s economy.
However be prepared to spend, since Culver City isn’t among the least expensive places to live in the US. The good life comes at a price and you’ve got to figure out if the price is worth it with a move to Culver City. Residents, however, swear by the high quality of life the city offers.