What do you think of when you hear the word “Hollywood”?
Firstly, we are pretty sure it would be the glitz and glamour of the Golden Age stars such as Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor.
Secondly, it would be the modern image of the LA neighbourhood, where you get to rub shoulders with celebrities in Beverly Hills and thirdly, the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Whatever said and done, chances are that, the world-famous Hollywood sign is one of the first things that come to your mind in things to do in Los Angeles.
The gigantic white block-lettered sign overlooking Los Angeles is one of the most iconic landmarks in the United States.
Also, seated high in the Hollywood Hills section of the Santa Monica mountains, this seemingly simple sign has become a symbol of the USA’s movie industry.
From its humble beginnings to its modern-day fame, the Hollywood sign has evolved to represent the glamour, optimism and inspiration of the city of Los Angeles.
Likewise, when did the Hollywood sign become such a big deal?
How tall is the Hollywood sign? How much did it cost?
From where to see the Hollywood sign for the best photos?
Similarly, are the rumours that the Hollywood sign not the original even true?
Read on to find answers to these, certain things you probably never knew about the Hollywood sign.
12 Fascinating Facts About The Hollywood Sign
The Hollywood Sign Is Nearly 90 years Old
Designed by English artist and company owner Thomas Fisk Goff, the original sign was constructed in the year 1923. But seems like, its actual completion date is still subjected to debate.
The sign was made up of thirteen 50-foot high panels of sheet metal which was secured with frames made of pipes, wire and telephone poles.
However, contrary to the popular belief, the sign was not put up to be a symbol of the growing movie industry. It was only meant to be a temporary fixture.
The Sign’s Original Purpose Was To Advertise Real Estate
The Hollywood sign was actually created to advertise a brand-new segregated housing development named Hollywoodland.
The neighbourhood developers S. H. Woodruff and Tracy E. Shoults wanted a huge billboard to draw in potential buyers and contracted the Crescent Sign Company (owned by Thomas Fisk Goff) to make the sign.
The Hollywood Sign Had 4 Letters That Were Removed
Like the new housing development, the sign originally read Hollywoodland. But what happened to the last 4 letters?
Urban legend has it that the “land” part of the sign was buried by landslides, swept away by hurricanes or stolen by vandals. However, none of that is true.
During the 1949 reparation and restoration of the sign, the last 4 letters “land” was removed in an agreement to keep the sign from being demolished completely.
Therefore, the Hollywoodland sign advertising real estate became the Hollywood sign, a symbol of the glamorous neighbourhood.
The Sign Was Lit Up By Thousands Of Lightbulbs
Although nowadays you’ll have little chance of seeing the Hollywood sign at night, it used to be a dazzling beacon of flashing lights when it was first erected.
The original sign was illuminated by 4,000 20-watt lightbulbs, which blinked to reveal “HOLLY”, “WOOD”, and “LAND”. As a result, the whole word, “HOLLYWOODLAND” would light up.
The Hollywood Sign Was Supposed To Be Temporary
Meant to be a temporary advertisement, the Hollywoodland sign was only expected to stay up for 12-18 months, after which it would be taken down for good.
However, owing to growing recognition as a symbol of the high-end neighbourhood, and the sign becoming a popular tourist attraction on the West Coast, it stayed up and morphed into one of the US’s most famous landmarks.
The Hollywood Sign Was Replaced
Despite its reparation and restoration in 1949, the sign began deteriorating again. Consequently, it cost a lot of money to maintain.
The third “O” in the sign had tumbled down the side of the hill.
The second “L” was set on fire by arsonists, and the sign was getting ready to be torn down for good.
In 1978, however, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner held a lavish fundraiser at his mansion and gathered eight other donors together.
As a result, each of those donors pledged $28,000 for replacement letters to the sign. Those are the letters we see today.
The Hollywood Sign Is Tall – But The Original Was Taller
The Hollywood sign we see today is 45 feet (13.7 metres) tall, and 350 feet (106.7 metres) long. The original was slightly taller, at 50 feet (15.2 metres) tall.
A Budding Actress Committed Suicide On The Hollywood Sign
Hollywood is certainly known as a place to make your dreams come true – but it can also be the place where dreams are shattered. This was the case with 24-year old Peg Entwhistle, who had moved from New York to LA to become a film star.
In addition to the multiple failed attempts to break into stardom, she committed suicide by climbing up a workman’s ladder to the top of the “H” in the Hollywood Sign.
Ironically, her death gained her the fame she was never able to achieve when she was alive.
The Sign Had Its Own Caretaker
To make sure the sign was maintained properly, the real estate developers hired Albert Kothe, a neighbourhood handyman as a caretaker.
One of his many tasks included replacing the 4,000 lightbulbs whenever needed. Also, taking into account the height of each of the letters in the sign, was indeed a big job!
The Sign Has High Levels Of Security Around It
The Hollywood sign has been vandalised and damaged numerous times.
To prevent this from happening again, with the help of the Department of Homeland Security, a high-tech security system is put in place to protect the LA landmark.
Systems including razor wire, 24-hour watch, motion sensors and even helicopter patrols are implemented in a bid to deter vandals.
The Best Place To See The Hollywood sign
You can’t actually hike to the base of the Hollywood sign anymore due to health and safety reasons. However, you can still get close enough to snap some amazing photos.
A walk from Lake Hollywood Park gives you incredible views of the sign. Similarly, walking up Mulholland Drive to the Deronda gate will get you even closer.
Likewise, for a view of the back of the sign, take a one-mile Hollywood sign hike to the top of Mount Lee. You can even walk along the Wonder View Trail that runs just behind and above the sign.
Have you visited the Hollywood sign yet?
The Sign Was Ridiculously Expensive
The original Hollywoodland sign was made up of thirteen letters and cost $21,000. This would amount to approximately $250,000 in present-day dollars – half a million bucks!
Taking into account that the sign’s sole purpose was to advertise real estate, this was a very expensive investment.
It’s your turn! Tell us, which fact do you find the most interesting about the Hollywood sign?
Have you visited the Hollywood sign in LA yet? Did you ever go on a tour to the Hollywood sign?
Why don’t you hike and find out some information not mentioned in this article?
Mainly, if you’re still struggling to find out where to see the Hollywood sign from, there are many tour desks in the area. They offer tours to the best spots around LA to see the sign from.
Let us know what you love the most about the sign in the comments below!