See the Story Behind Hollywood’s Glowing White Cross

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Tom Carroll, that intrepid young explorer of Los Angeles, is back with another slickly constructed video digging into one of the city’s oft-overlooked destinations. This time, Tom takes a close look at Hollywood’s Ford Amphitheatre and the glowing white cross that stands above it. Turns out, the cross was built as a tribute to the theatre’s founder, Christine Stevenson, who was also instrumental in creating the neighboring Hollywood Bowl.

Stevenson wanted to use the Hollywood Bowl for giant religious-themed spectacles, but her partners apparently weren’t so keen on that idea. Undaunted, Stevenson simply crossed the 101 (not really, it wasn’t there yet) and built a second theatre. Here she produced a wildly successful passion play that continued to be staged there for decades. Stevenson died suddenly in 1922 and her friends erected the enormous cross in her memory. Today it is maintained by a church in Van Nuys.

Stevenson’s Pilgrimage Play Theater was later donated to LA County and renamed after County Supervisor John Anson Ford. After several years of renovation, the historic amphitheatre is set to reopen in July–with a brand new stage and a food market.

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