The Hollywood Sign (formerly the Hollywoodland Sign) is an American landmark and cultural icon overlooking Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. It is situated on Mount Lee, in the Hollywood Hills area of the Santa Monica Mountains.
"HOLLYWOOD" is spelled out in 45-foot (13.7 m)-tall white capital letters and is 352 feet (107.3 m) long. The sign was originally created in 1923 as an advertisement for a local real estate development, but due to increasing recognition, the sign was left up. The sign has been a frequent target of pranks and vandalism across the decades, but it has since undergone restoration, including the installation of a security system to deter vandalism. The sign is protected and promoted by The Hollywood Sign Trust, a nonprofit organization, while its site and the surrounding land are part of Griffith Park.
The sign makes frequent appearances in popular culture, particularly in establishing shots for films and television programs set in or around Hollywood. Signs of similar style, but spelling different words, are frequently seen as parodies. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce holds trademark rights to the Hollywood Sign.
|The Hollywood Sign|
|Former names||The Hollywoodland Sign (1923–1949)|
|Location||Griffith Park, Mount Lee, Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, California|
|Client||Woodruff and Shoults (Hollywoodland)|
|Structural system||Wood and sheet metal (1923–1978)|
|Size||44 ft (13.4 m) tall, 352 ft (107.3 m) long|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Thomas Fisk Goff|
|Designated||February 7, 1973|
The sign was erected in 1923 and originally read "HOLLYWOODLAND." Its purpose was to advertise the name of a new segregated housing development in the hills above the Hollywood district of Los Angeles. H.J. Whitley had already used a sign to advertise his development Whitley Heights, which was between Highland Avenue and Vine Street. He suggested to his friend Harry Chandler, the owner of the Los Angeles Times newspaper, that the land syndicate in which he was involved make a similar sign to advertise their land. Real estate developers Woodruff and Shoults called their development "Hollywoodland" and advertised it as a "superb environment without excessive cost on the Hollywood side of the hills."
They contracted the Crescent Sign Company to erect thirteen south-facing letters on the hillside. The sign company owner, Thomas Fisk Goff (1890–1984), designed the sign. Each letter was 30 feet (9.1 m) wide and 50 feet (15.2 m) high, and the whole sign was studded with around 4,000 light bulbs. The sign flashed in segments: "HOLLY," "WOOD," and "LAND" lit up individually, and then the whole. Below the Hollywoodland sign was a searchlight to attract more attention. The poles that supported the sign were hauled to the site by mules. Cost of the project was $21,000, equivalent to $310,000 in 2018.
The sign was officially dedicated in 1923. It was intended only to last a year and a half, but after the rise of American cinema in Los Angeles during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the sign became an internationally recognized symbol and was left there.
Over the course of more than half a century, the sign, designed to stand for only 18 months, sustained extensive damage and deterioration.
During the early 1940s, Albert Kothe (the sign's official caretaker) caused an accident that destroyed the letter H. Kothe, driving while intoxicated, was nearing the top of Mount Lee when he lost control of his vehicle and drove off the cliff directly behind the H. While Kothe was not injured, his 1928 Ford Model A was destroyed, as was the original 50 foot (15.2 m) tall illuminated letter H.
In 1949, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce began a contract with the City of Los Angeles Parks Department to repair and rebuild the sign. The contract stipulated that "LAND" be removed to spell "Hollywood" and reflect the district, not the "Hollywoodland" housing development. The Parks Department dictated that all subsequent illumination would be at the Chamber's expense, so the Chamber opted not to replace the lightbulbs. The 1949 effort gave it new life, but the sign's unprotected wood and sheet metal structure continued to deteriorate. By the 1970s, the first O had splintered and broken, resembling a lowercase u, and the third O had fallen down completely, leaving the severely dilapidated sign reading "HuLLYWO D."
In 1978, in large part because of the public campaign to restore the landmark by Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine, the Chamber set out to replace the severely deteriorated sign with a more permanent structure. Nine donors gave US$27,777.77 each (totaling US$249,999.93) to sponsor replacement letters, made of steel supported by steel columns on a concrete foundation (see Donors section below).
The new letters were 45 feet (13.7 m) tall and ranged from 31 to 39 feet (9.4 to 11.9 m) wide. The new version of the sign was unveiled on November 11, 1978, as the culmination of a live CBS television special commemorating the 75th anniversary of Hollywood's incorporation as a city.
Refurbishment, donated by Bay Cal Commercial Painting, began again in November 2005, as workers stripped the letters back to their metal base and repainted them white.
Following the 1978 public campaign to restore the sign, the following nine donors gave $27,777.77 each (which totaled $250,000):
The original 1923 sign was presumed to have been destroyed until 2005, when it was put up for sale on eBay by producer/entrepreneur Dan Bliss. It was sold to artist Bill Mack, who used the sheet metal as a medium to paint the likenesses of stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood. In August 2012, Mack constructed an exact replica of the letter H from the metal. On August 9, 2012, Herb Wesson and Tom LaBonge of the Los Angeles City Council presented Mack with a Certificate of Recognition for his restoration efforts and preservation of the iconic symbol of Hollywood history.
In recent years, considerable public controversy has arisen over certain access points to the trails leading to the sign that are in residential areas. Some residents of the neighborhoods adjoining the sign such as Beachwood Canyon and Lake Hollywood Estates have expressed concerns about the congestion and traffic caused by tourists and sightseers attracted to the sign. The Los Angeles Fire Department has also identified the surrounding land as a high fire risk area due to the brush and dry climate. Additionally, in comparison to access points directly within Griffith Park there is a notable lack of basic infrastructure (parking, restrooms, potable water) to handle the high number of visitors to these neighborhoods. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2013 that "there are more than 40 tour companies running buses and vans in and out of [Beachwood C]anyon..." and residents "...are most concerned about safety issues because the curving hillside roads were not designed for so many cars and pedestrians." After multiple years of pressure from neighborhood activists, the city closed a trailhead at the end of Beachwood Drive leading to the Hollyridge Trail, a popular pathway to the sign that had been open for decades. Prior to this, the city made the northern parts of Beachwood Canyon into preferential parking districts, restricting parking on most of the streets in the neighborhood to its homeowners.
Many public space advocates have contended the city should not restrict access points to the sign from the public, suggesting other avenues be explored to alleviate the challenges tourism presents to the surrounding communities. They have also argued the streets, sign, and parkland are public property and should be accessible to all since they are funded by public tax dollars. An aerial tramway to the top of Mount Lee and the sign has been proposed numerous times. In June 2018, Warner Bros. proposed to fund an estimated $100 million tramway that would run from their Burbank studio lot and up the north face of Mount Lee to a new visitors area near the sign. Other proposals stakeholders have set forth include establishing an official visitor's center for the sign, public shuttle service to lead tourists to the sign or trails, or even erecting a duplicate sign on the opposite side of Mount Lee.
The Hollywood Sign Trust directs visitors to two viewing platforms, Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood and Highland Center. Visitors can hike to the sign from the Bronson Canyon entrance to Griffith Park or from Griffith Observatory. There is also a trailhead near the Lake Hollywood Reservoir outside of Griffith Park, and although not an access point in itself, there is a popular scenic vista point around Lake Hollywood Park near the trailhead.
The sign was the focal point for the Pacific time zone as part of a worldwide, coordinated series of events for the 2000 Millennium celebration. The sign was illuminated in various colors, one of the rare times the sign became lit. The colored light sequence was an alternative to the firework displays at several of the other world icons due to concerns about fire in the dry conditions.
The sign is on rough, steep terrain, and there are barriers to prevent unauthorized access. In 2000, the Los Angeles Police Department installed a security system featuring motion detection and closed-circuit cameras. Any movement in the marked restricted areas triggers an alarm that notifies the police.
It is atat a 1,578-foot (481 m) elevation.
Viewed from lower ground, the contours of the hills give the sign a wavy appearance. When viewed from the same height, the word appears nearly straight.
The building and tower just behind and to the right of the sign is the City of Los Angeles Central Communications Facility, which supports all cellphone, microwave and radio towers used by the Los Angeles Police Department, the Fire Department, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and other municipal agencies. The building has no name and is a large maintenance building for the antennas. From 1939 to 1947, this site was the location of the studios and transmitter of the first television station in Los Angeles, W6XAO (now KCBS-TV), founded by The Don Lee Network, hence the name Mount Lee. The TV studio left this location in 1948, and the transmission facility left in 1951, moving to the higher Mount Wilson.
Land in the vicinity of the sign was purchased by Howard Hughes in 1940, who planned to build a hilltop mansion at Cahuenga Peak for actress Ginger Rogers. Before long Rogers broke off their engagement and the lot remained empty. Hughes' estate sold the property that lies to the left and above the sign for $1.7 million in 2002 to Fox River Financial Resources, a Chicago developer that planned to build luxury mansions along the ridgeline. It put the property on the market in 2008 for $22 million. As a result, the City of Los Angeles considered buying it, possibly by raising money from celebrities as was done for the 1978 restoration.
Environmentalists and preservationists were concerned about the possibility of real estate development in the area. In April 2009 The Trust for Public Land (TPL) signed an option to buy the 138 acres (0.56 km2) property for a discounted price of $12.5 million. On February 11, 2010, as part of a campaign to help raise money and with the full support of both the city and the Hollywood Sign Trust, the organization covered each letter of the sign with large banners reading "SAVE THE PEAK". On April 26, 2010, the Trust for Public Land announced it had raised enough money, with Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner stepping forward to donate the final $900,000. Hefner later gave an additional $100,000 donation. After the purchase, the parcel became an extension of nearby Griffith Park.
It is illegal to make unauthorized physical alterations to the sign. Although the city has occasionally allowed it in the past for commercial purposes, current policy does not permit such changes to be made. This is largely due to neighborhood opposition and to past accidents. However, the sign has been unofficially altered a number of times, often eliciting a great deal of attention. Among the more famous modifications:
Multiple other places have imitated the sign in some way.
In films and television shows, the Hollywood Sign is often shown getting damaged or destroyed from the events of a particular scene; period pieces may show just the "LAND" portion of the original sign being destroyed. It is an example of national landmarks being destroyed, a common feature seen in many disaster movies to increase the drama and tension. It is frequently a shorthand device to indicate the destruction of all of Los Angeles or the state of California. The sign has been depicted getting destroyed in the movies Earthquake (1974), Independence Day (1996), The Day After Tomorrow (2004), 10.5 (2004), Terminator Salvation (2009), Sharknado (2013), San Andreas (2015), and countless other films.
Other movies came up with fictional explanations for the elimination of the original LAND part of the sign.
It is also featured in the video games Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto V as "VINEWOOD".
The idea of an aerial tram to the Hollywood sign has been floated numerous times over the years as a way to draw tourists away from the residential areas and raise revenue for the city
Beachwood Canyon is a community in the Hollywood Hills, in the northern portion of Hollywood in Los Angeles, California. The upper portion of the canyon is the Hollywoodland community that was advertised in the 1920s by the original of what is now known as the Hollywood Sign. The canyon features its own market, cafe, florist and stables.Eden ahbez
George Alexander Aberle, known as eden ahbez (April 15, 1908 – March 4, 1995), was an American songwriter and recording artist of the 1940s to 1960s, whose lifestyle in California was influential in the hippie movement. He was known to friends simply as ahbe.
Ahbez composed the song "Nature Boy", which became a No. 1 hit for eight weeks in 1948 for Nat "King" Cole. Living a bucolic life from at least the 1940s, he traveled in sandals and wore shoulder-length hair and beard, and white robes. He camped out below the first L in the Hollywood Sign above Los Angeles and studied Oriental mysticism. He slept outdoors with his family and ate vegetables, fruits, and nuts. He claimed to live on three dollars per week.Franklin Avenue (Los Angeles)
Franklin Avenue is a street in Los Angeles. It is the northernmost thoroughfare in Hollywood, north of Hollywood Boulevard, and the southern border of the Hollywood Hills. It is the center of the stylish neighborhood of Franklin Village.Franklin Avenue begins as a residential street off Sierra Bonita Avenue. Continuing East, Franklin is the southern border of Whitley Heights and turns into a major east–west thoroughfare in the Hollywood Hills. It ends in Los Feliz.Griffith Observatory
The Griffith Observatory is a facility in Los Angeles, California, sitting on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood in Los Angeles' Griffith Park. It commands a view of the Los Angeles Basin, including Downtown Los Angeles to the southeast, Hollywood to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. The observatory is a popular tourist attraction with a close view of the Hollywood Sign and an extensive array of space and science-related displays. Admission has been free since the observatory's opening in 1935, in accordance with the will of Griffith J. Griffith, the benefactor after whom the observatory is named.Griffith Park
Griffith Park is a large municipal park at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains, in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. The park covers 4,310 acres (1,740 ha) of land, making it one of the largest urban parks in North America. It is the second-largest city park in California, after Mission Trails Preserve in San Diego, and the 11th largest municipally owned park in the United States. It has also been referred to as the Central Park of Los Angeles but is much larger, more untamed, and rugged than its New York City counterpart.H.J. Whitley
Hobart Johnstone Whitley (October 7, 1847 – June 3, 1931), also known as H.J. Whitley, is the "Father of Hollywood." He was a real estate developer who helped create the Hollywood subdivision in Los Angeles, Southern California. He and his wife Margaret Virginia Whitley named the town while on their honeymoon in 1886.Hollywood (Gorillaz song)
"Hollywood" is a song by British virtual band Gorillaz featuring American rapper Snoop Dogg and American house musician Jamie Principle. It was officially released on 21 June 2018, as the fifth single from their sixth studio album, The Now Now.Hollywood Hills
The Hollywood Hills is a hillside neighborhood of the same name in the central region of the city of Los Angeles, California.Hollywood Reservoir
Hollywood Reservoir, also known as Lake Hollywood, is a reservoir located in the Hollywood Hills, situated in the Santa Monica Mountains north of the Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. It is maintained by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The reservoir and surrounding neighborhood are overlooked by the Hollywood Sign.The reservoir is created by the Mulholland Dam, built in 1924, designed by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, then named the Bureau of Water Works and Supply, as part of the city's water storage and supply system.Hollywood Reservoir has appeared in films such as Chinatown (1974), where Hollis Mulwray is discovered dead along the shores, and Earthquake (1974).Hollywood and Highland Center
The Hollywood & Highland Center is a shopping mall and entertainment complex at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue in the Hollywood district in Los Angeles. The 387,000-square-foot (36,000 m2) center also includes TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and Mann's Chinese Theatre) and the Dolby Theatre (formerly known as the Kodak Theatre), home to the Academy Awards. The historic site was once the home of the famed Hollywood Hotel. Located in the heart of Hollywood, along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it is among the most visited tourist destinations in Los Angeles.
The complex sits just across Hollywood Blvd. from the El Capitan Theatre and offers views of the Hollywood Hills and Hollywood Sign to the north, Santa Monica Mountains to the west and downtown Los Angeles to the east. The centerpiece of the complex is a massive three-story courtyard inspired by the Babylon scene from the D.W. Griffith film Intolerance. The developer of the shopping center built part of the archway and two pillars with elephant sculptures on the capitals, just as seen in the film, to the same full scale. It gives visitors an idea of how large the original set must have been.The center has over 70 shops and 25 restaurants. Major retail tenants that face Hollywood Boulevard include American Eagle Outfitters, Forever 21, and Sephora. The complex also houses a Lucky Strike Lanes bowling alley, a six-plex movie theater, and a nightclub.
Hollywood & Highland also houses 65,000 square feet (6,000 m2) of gathering spaces including the Grand Ballroom, used for the Oscars Governors Ball. Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck operates his regional headquarters out of the complex. The center also includes television broadcast facilities that in 2004 included the studios for the daily talk show On Air With Ryan Seacrest. Currently, the studio is home to Revolt TV.
The 637-room Loews Hollywood Hotel is also part of the site. The Metro Red Line's subway station of the same name is beneath the structure. Also, Metro Local lines 212, 217, 222, 237, 656 and Metro Rapid 780 serve Hollywood & Highland.Hugh Hefner
Hugh Marston Hefner (April 9, 1926 – September 27, 2017) was an American magazine publisher and life-stylist. He was the founder and editor-in-chief of Playboy magazine, a publication with revealing photographs and articles that provoked charges of obscenity. The first issue of Playboy, published in 1953, featured Marilyn Monroe in a nude calendar shoot and sold over 50,000 copies.
Hefner extended the Playboy brand into a world network of Playboy Clubs. He also resided in luxury mansions where Playboy ‘playmates’ shared his wild partying life, fueling keen media interest. An advocate of sexual liberation and freedom of expression, Hefner was a political activist in other causes; those causes included the Democratic Party, First Amendment rights, animal rescue, and the restoration of the Hollywood Sign.Life (Is So Strange)
Life (Is So Strange) is an album by War, released on RCA Victor Records in 1983. It marked the end of a continuous string of albums by the group from 1970, and they would not record another album until a decade later. The band's lineup is not stated on the cover, but composer credits suggest they had been reduced from eight members (on the previous album) to five.
The pop art cover references concerns about nuclear war in Los Angeles, the group's home. The Hollywood Sign appears in the upper right corner, and mushroom clouds are reflected in the woman's sunglasses. The back cover depicts office towers (identifiable as New York City buildings) being toppled by a nuclear explosion. Producer Jerry Goldstein also produced the album Nuclear Blues by Blood, Sweat and Tears a few years earlier, which had a cover depicting a post-nuclear urban street scene.
One single from the album was issued: "Life (is So Strange)" backed with "W.W. III".Love/Hate (band)
Love/Hate is a Los Angeles, California based hard rock band, who achieved their greatest fame in the early 1990s.Lust for Life (Lana Del Rey song)
"Lust for Life" is a song recorded by American singer Lana Del Rey with a guest appearance by Canadian singer The Weeknd. The song was written and produced by Del Rey and Rick Nowels, with additional writing from The Weeknd and Max Martin and additional production from Dean Reid and Kieron Menzies. It was released on April 19, 2017, through Polydor Records and Interscope Records, as the second single from her fifth studio album of the same name (2017). A dream pop song, "Lust for Life" is reminiscent of 1960s music, especially from girl groups like the Shangri-Las and the Angels; the latter's 1963 song "My Boyfriend's Back" is referenced in the lyrics. It also quotes the poem "Invictus" by the English poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903).
"Lust for Life" received mixed reviews from music critics: some acclaimed its sultry production that departs from the melancholic, sad themes present in Del Rey's previous works, while others criticized its lyrics as banal and the Weeknd's vocals as whiny. "Lust for Life" debuted in the top 100 of several countries, including the United States – where it peaked at 64 being the third collaboration between Del Rey and The Weeknd to enter the chart– the United Kingdom, Canada, Scotland, Portugal, Spain, Belgium and Ireland.
Its accompanying music video directed by Clark Jackson features Del Rey and The Weeknd singing on the top of the Hollywood Sign as referenced in the lyrics. Some critics pointed out a parallel between some of the lyrics and imagery accompanying the song and the 1932 suicide of actress Peg Entwistle who killed herself by jumping off the "H" of the sign. To promote "Lust for Life", the singer performed it for the first time at the 2017 KROQ Weenie Roast y Fiesta concert and later appeared at the 2017 BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend on May 27, 2017. The song was also included as the tenth track in the setlist of her fourth headlining concert tour called "LA to the Moon Tour" (2018).Mary C. Brown and the Hollywood Sign
Mary C. Brown and the Hollywood Sign was the fourth solo LP by Dory Previn, released in November 1972. This was a thematic album about Hollywood misfits. The songs were intended for a musical revue that ran briefly in Los Angeles. It was planned to stage it on Broadway, but the previews were poor and the show was cancelled before it opened.Mount Lee
Mount Lee is a peak in the Santa Monica Mountains, located in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, California, USA. The Hollywood Sign is located on its southern slope.Peg Entwistle
Millicent Lilian "Peg" Entwistle (5 February 1908 – 16 September 1932) was a British stage and screen actress. She began her stage career in 1925, appearing in several Broadway productions. She appeared in only one film, Thirteen Women, which was released after her death.
Entwistle gained notoriety after she jumped to her death from atop the "H" on the Hollywoodland sign in September 1932, at the age of 24.The Hollywood Sign (film)
The Hollywood Sign is a 2001 comedy/suspense drama film directed by Sönke Wortmann and written by Leon de Winter. It stars Tom Berenger, Rod Steiger and Burt Reynolds as three washed-up actors risking their lives to make a comeback, as well as Jacqueline Kim.
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