For many people, one of the first things they imagine when they hear the word “Hollywood” is the 45-foot sign that symbolizes the glamor and grandeur of the entertainment industry. As it sits nestled in the Hollywood Hills and makes appearances in a number of films and shows, it’s no surprise that it has become a cultural icon. Yet, despite its fame, many do not realize the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles was not originally built with the film industry in mind or that it was about to be torn down for good. Are you looking to brush up on your knowledge of all things Hollywood? Consider taking a classic convertible tour of Los Angeles and learn interesting facts, like these five things about the Hollywood sign.
The Hollywood Sign Was Created for Real Estate Purposes
The reigning symbol of the film industry was not originally constructed with movies in mind — not directly, anyway. In 1920, the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, Harry Chandler, recognized that Los Angeles was gaining popularity as a movie town and decided to invest in the housing development, specifically the neighborhood called Hollywoodland, from developers S.H. Woodruff and Tracy E. Shoults. Chandler paid to have a sign constructed to entice homebuyers to the area. This sign would eventually become what we now know as the Hollywood sign.
The Sign Used to Say “Hollywoodland”
The sign Chandler originally invested $21,000 into used to read “Hollywoodland,” after the neighborhood it was promoting. The sign was lit up with 4,000 light bulbs. These lights would blink in a sequence, illuminating the words “Holly,” “Wood,” and then “Land.” At the time, it captured the glamor of the upscale neighborhood.
It wasn’t until 1949 that the last four letters were dropped from the sign. During The Great Depression, the Hollywood sign took quite a beating. Maintenance ceased, leaving the sign rusty and in disrepair. The Los Angeles Parks & Recreation department attempted to have the sign removed, but at that point, it had become a famous landmark. Fortunately, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce stepped forward and helped restore the sign. They dropped “LAND” from the end of the sign to ensure it represented the community rather than a real estate development.
An Unlikely Bunch Saved the Sign in 1978
While the Chamber of Commerce saved the Hollywood sign in 1949 and repainted it in 1973, its condition continued to deteriorate. Fortunately, an unlikely hero came to its rescue in 1978. Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine, held a fundraiser in his mansion to raise money for the necessary renovation. Benefactors included Alice Cooper, Les Kelley, Gene Autrey, Andy Williams, and Warner Bros. Studios, among others. Each letter was auctioned for $28,000.
The Hollywood Sign Is Heavily Protected
Today, the Hollywood sign is heavily guarded to protect this famous landmark and to prevent vandalism, injuries, and accidents. In addition to a specially-designed security system, the sign is protected by razor wire, 24-hour monitoring, motion sensors, alarms, and even helicopter patrols.
The Sign Has Its Own Trust Fund
In 1992, the Hollywood Sign Trust was established to maintain and promote the Hollywood sign. Thanks to this trust, the sign remains in excellent condition today. A recent renovation even enables people to visit the sign virtually via webcams whenever they want.
Alt Text: Male tourist in front of Hollywood sign
Discover More Interesting Facts About the Hollywood Sign Today!
Are you interested in getting an up-close and personal look at the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles? Consider taking a private tour curated just for you to learn more interesting facts about the Hollywood sign and more. At Classic Experiences, we design tours for all types of sightseers. Simply let us know what you’re interested in, and we’ll create an unforgettable experience.
For more information about our private tours of LA, contact our team today! In addition to convertible tours of landmarks, we also offer private tours of Los Angeles in a luxury SUV, so no matter what you have in mind, we can make it happen!