The Curious History of the Hollywood Sign

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Hollywood is a global entertainment industry. There are many things which people can directly relate to with Hollywood. One of those is the iconic Hollywood sign which is a landmark and American cultural icon. It is located on Mount Lee, in the Hollywood Hills area of the Santa Monica mountains. The sign overlooks Hollywood, Los Angeles. The article provides the history behind the iconic Hollywood sign.

History

Hollywood was not just a city with time, it became an industry. It represented the lifestyle and culture of the US. The Hollywood sign was first erected in the year 1923, and it originally read “HOLLYWOODLAND.” The sign was meant to promote the new whites-only real estate project in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles. The sign was built by the owner of the Los Angeles Times, Harry Chandler. The sign cost $21,000, which adjusted for inflation in the year 2017 translated to approximately $300,000. The real estate developers advertised “Hollywoodland” as a nice environment with reasonable cost on the Hollywood side of the hills.

The Crescent Sign Company was awarded the contract to erect the thirteen-letter sign. The letters were south facing on the hillside.  The owner of the company Thomas Fisk Goff was the designer of the sign. Each letter is 30 feet wide and 50 feet high and was designed in white capital letters. The sign was studded with 4000 light bulbs. The bulbs were provided such that the sign was lit up in three segments- “HOLLY”, “WOOD” and “LAND”- and then the entire sign was lit up as a whole. A searchlight was also provided below the sign to attract more attention. Interestingly, the sign was not meant to be permanent and it was meant to stand for only 18 months. With the rise of the American cinema and movie making in Los Angeles during the golden age of Hollywood, the sign became an internationally renowned iconic symbol of America and it was left there.

Damages and Restoration

The Hollywood sign also suffered damages over time. During the early 1940s, the letter “H” of the sign was destroyed in an accident. In 1949 the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce entered into a contract with the City of Los Angeles Parks Department to repair and rebuild the iconic sign. The contract also instructed to remove the segment “LAND” from the sign and the sign should be spelled as “HOLLYWOOD”. This was meant so that the sign represented the name of the district and not the “Hollywoodland” housing project, for which it was originally erected.

In 1978, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce decided to replace the severely deteriorated and damaged letters with a more durable and permanent structure. The new letters were made of steel and were supported by steel columns on a concrete foundation. The new letters were 45 feet high and ranged from 31 to 39 feet wide. The new Hollywood sign was unveiled and publicly displayed on 11th November 1978.

Conclusion

The Hollywood sign is a globally famous landmark and represents American cinema and Hollywood industry. Tourists from across the world come to visit the location and see the sign which has become synonymous with filmmaking, glamour, and glitz of Hollywood.

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