The Hollywood Sign is a Los Angeles landmark recognized worldwide.
While the sign is synonymous with entertainment it was initially created to promote a real estate development located in the Hollywood Hills known as Hollywoodland.
Investors of the project spent $21,000 to advertise luxury living in the hills by erecting 45-foot tall letters illuminated by 4,000 light bulbs on Mount Lee that sits in Griffith Park. At night the letters flashed in four stages: “Holly,” then “Wood,” then “Land” and then the entire word, “Hollywoodland.”
With the onset of the Great Depression the project went bust but the sign remained standing.
However, without regular maintenance the sign fell in and out of disrepair. According to history.com, “the ‘H’ even toppled over, so that it briefly read “Ollywoodland.” After ownership of the sign passed to the city in the mid-1940s, the L.A. Recreation and Parks Commission apparently wanted it razed. But the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce stepped in, and in 1949 it removed the last four letters and restored the rest.”
But it wasn’t too long before another letter tumbled down the hill … and one was even set on fire.
In the early 1970’s Gloria Swanson funded another restoration but by the end of the decade more attention was needed.
Hugh Hefner stepped up. History.com states, “In 1978, Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner held a gala at his mansion, where he and eight other donors, including rock musician Alice Cooper, pledged nearly $28,000 each to fund a replacement. After a three-month period without a sign, construction finished up later that year. The new sign was the same size as the old one, but with structural improvements such as steel footings rather than telephone poles. Since then, it has periodically received a fresh coat of white paint, most recently in December 2012.”
Today, this Historical Landmark remains cemented in pop culture, is a sight for touring eyes, and it retains that magic and allure of making it big in Hollywood.
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