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America's Iconic Signage: Los Angeles, CA (Part 1)

Posted on January 22, 2015 | Posted by Kris Williamson

Our America's Iconic Signage series is back! This time we are featuring Los Angeles, California. The city of Los Angeles (LA) is truly a little world of its own. Founded on September 4, 1781, LA combines its ethnic and historical foundation with cutting edge technology. No other city holds the title as the Entertainment Capital of the World with such a notable history in film, television, music and literature. Oh and let's not forget the food! Did you know that LA is known as the birthplace of the Cobb Salad and the French Dip? The city draws visitors from around the world who want to sample its history (211 sites on the National Register of Historic Places), the entertainment, the culture, and the California and ethnic cuisines. Ok, let's be honest, the visitors also hope to run into some of the famous residents of LA!

If you've seen a map of LA, you will see that the city is actually divided into regions. It is in these regions that we find a vast collection of recognizable signs. Much of this familiarity can be attributed to the film industry, which has featured and promoted many of the signs. In doing so, many LA signs are know on even an international level. For this edition of America's Iconic Signage, we only feature one sign. Why? Because the Hollywood Sign holds enough history and recognition to cover an entire blog! There are plenty of other landmark signs in the LA area to write about so we will leave this post as Part 1.

The Hollywood Sign

The various stages of the Hollywood Sign through the years. 12-Point SignWorksVarious stages of the Hollywood Sign.
The top image shows the original 'Hollywoodland' design. The bottom left shows the Hollywood Sign in disrepair. The Hollywood Sign on the bottom right shows the current state of the sign with its steel frame visible behind some of the letters.
(Image Credits: Flickr, abcnews.go.com)

You won't find an address for this iconic sign! Only accessible by foot, there are a number of named hikes that offer views of the Hollywood Sign and the city of Los Angeles. Some of the hikes lead you up and behind the letters; however, please do not trespass around the sign. It is monitored 24/7, and an LA Police Officer is stationed at the sign at all times. That's some security! 

Here is a brief timeline of events for the Hollywood Sign: 

1923  The sign was built by the Crescent Sign Company as an advertisement for Hollywoodland, an upscale real estate development. The sign, which took 60 days to assemble, consisted of thirteen letters made from 3ft by 9ft panels and painted white. Each letter of the sign was 30-feet wide, 50-feet high, and covered in thousands of light bulbs. The hope was that the sign would last for 18 months. 

1923-1931  The sign survives much longer than one year, which is what the developers thought, and becomes a symbol for the Los Angeles region of Hollywood.

Mid-1940's  With the sign deteriorating, the thriving nearby neighborhood asks to have it removed. The developers turn the sign over to the City of Los Angeles, and it becomes part of Griffith Park.

1949  The sign is repaired and rebuilt, and the "land" is removed from the end to leave "Hollywood." The light bulbs are not replaced. Celebrities pitch in over the next 30 years to maintain the sign. 

1973  The sign receives another makeover and is declared a Historical Landmark.

1978  Termites in the wood and an arsonist cause the sign to fall apart...an "O" actually tumbled down the mountain. Hugh Hefner throws a fundraiser to raise money to rebuild the sign, and celebrities and community leaders sponsor individual letters. The sign is demolished and rebuilt with a concrete foundation and steel frame. The new and improved sign was unveiled on November 14, 1978, Hollywood's 75th Anniversary. 

View behind the Hollywood Sign, showing the steel framework. 12-Point SignWorksA view from behind the Hollywood Sign that shows the steel framework that was designed to keep the sign standing for years to come. This is the view that can be seen from any of three hikes to the sign itself. The view of Los Angeles is pretty nice, too!
(Image Credit: Flickr)

2010  Hugh Hefner comes through again with a gift to the Hollywood Sign Trust, funding the purchase of the acreage behind the sign. His contribution, along with other grants and contributions, will protect the landmark sign for years to come.

As you can see by the timeline, Hollywood itself has definitely played a large part in the fame of the Hollywood Sign. For a listing of the movies, shows, video games, music videos and song lyrics that feature the notorious sign, click HERE!

Interested in making some iconic signage of your own? We can make that happen! Contact us today for a free quote.


Sources: www.discoverlosangeles.com, www.hollywoodsign.org

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