How Did the Hollywood Sign Come About? A Brief History of the Iconic Los Angeles Sign

We all know the famous “Hollywood Sign“, the monumental inscription almost 14 meters high and 110 meters long located on the Mount Lee to Los Angelesright above the Hollywood district and a symbol of the entire American film industry for decades now, so much so that it has become a very popular tourist attraction. What perhaps not everyone knows is that this writing was originally “Hollywoodland” and it was a advertising gimmick to sell houses in 1923!

The installation of the “Hollywoodland” sign

Year 1923. Los Angeles. Hollywood in those years was becoming the new world center of cinematography and to promote sales in the new residential district “Hollywoodland“it was decided to create a huge installation well over 1,500 feet long 137 meters which reported this name in capital letters. The text would have been composed of 13 huge letters each one 13.7 meters high. Overall the installation cost a good 21 thousand dollars – equivalent to 385 thousand dollars current.

To install the work it was first necessary to create a dirt road to reach the top of the hill and then install the system of vertical and horizontal wooden poles that would provide support for the letters. In total, 1,000 were used 1320 sheets of metal sheet and once everything was finished, the night lighting system was installed, consisting of 3700 light bulbsand officially inaugurated in 1923.

The Decline of the Hollywood Hills Sign

The problem is that after its installation nobody took care of its maintenance. maintenance in a serious way. Keep in mind that in 1936 the second “O” of Hollywood was destroyed by a storm and from 1941 to 1947 the writing remained even without the letter “H”. Over time, small restoration works were carried out and in 1949 the first significant intervention was made, during which it was also decided to remove the “LAND” portion of the billboard and leave only “HOLLYWOOD”. Nonetheless, the years continued to pass and, at the beginning of the 70s, the situation was once again disastrous, with damaged letters and a good part of the community determined to tear down this sign because it ruined the landscape. Fortunately however in 1973 the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce finally decided to take matters into his own hands and give new life to this symbol.

The rebirth of the “Hollywood” sign

After a technical assessment it was realised that the situation was irreparable: it was therefore decided to organise a fundraiser with the aim of obtaining $250,000 to rebuild everything from scratchand this time much more robustly, with steel piles and reinforced concrete foundations. Each of the 9 letters of the word HOLLYWOOD It was purchased by benefactors for the modest sum of 27 thousand dollars eachgiving life to the long sign 137 meters that we all still know today.

For those wondering, today it is possible to get close to the Hollywood sign via a dirt path but it is not possible to reach it directly, since the area is under 24-hour surveillance by the city police: this is necessary to avoid vandalism, as has already happened in the past on several occasions.

Where to see the Hollywood sign and what is the closest point to visit it

For those who want to spot and photograph the Hollywood Sign, the best place is the Lake Hollywood Parka public park among the hills of the neighborhood. Alternatively, a very suggestive panoramic point is theHollywood Bowl Overlook located along Mulholland Drive, a scenic road made famous by the David Lynch film of the same name. Alternatively, along the Hollywood Walk of Fame is the shopping center Hollywood & Highland Centeron whose terraces you can spot the sign.

Hollywood Sign Trivia

The stage actress Peg Entwistlewho worked extensively on Broadway, committed suicide in 1932 – at just 24 years old – by jumping off the first letter of the Hollywood Sign. The actress had left a note at the site that read: “I’m afraid, I’m a coward. I’m sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago, I would have saved a lot of pain. PE”. Entwistle’s character would later become one of the protagonists of the Netflix series Hollywood.

Hedi Lamarr