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America's Iconic Signage: Los Angeles, CA (Part 2)

Posted on March 12, 2015 | Posted by Kris Williamson

Our last review of America's Iconic Signage took us to the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles (LA), California. With the fame and history surrounding the Hollywood Sign in LA, it just made sense to give it its very own blog post. Now we are featuring the second installment of America's Iconic Signage: Los Angeles, CA. For Part 2, the signs are slightly smaller than the Hollywood Sign, but that doesn't make them any less important. Although they may not stand on a mountainside (or have the backing of Hugh Hefner!), the following signs greatly contribute to the landscape that lures people from around the world to the city of Los Angeles.

"Santa Monica Yacht Harbor" Sign at the Santa Monica Pier

Combination of photos of the Santa Monica Pier and iconic sign. 12-Point SignWorks

The "Santa Monica Yacht Harbor" sign marks the entrance to a piece of California history that began in 1909. The neon sign looks stunning at night, welcoming families, tourists and residents. The Pier offers something for everyone, including fishing, amusement park rides, concerts, movies and more! 
(Image Credits: TripAdvisor, Mark Mitchell via flickr, Tony Hoffarth via flickr) 

Although the Santa Monica Pier has existed since 1909, the famous arched blue sign with neon letters was not constructed until 1941. In the 32 years prior to the installment of the sign, the Pier grew in notoriety for fishing, roller coasters, a carousel, a pier collapse, a famous ballroom, a City Jail, "Popeye", and (surprisingly to me) sewage. Yes, I said it. Sewage. In fact, the Santa Monica Pier and, therefore, the iconic sign, probably would not exist today if it weren't for a sewage problem. After the Great Depression, the strength of the boating community fostered the creation of the Santa Monica Yacht Harbor. Due to the popularity of the yacht harbor and the construction of a bridge connecting the city to the Pier, the Santa Monica Pier Businessmen's Association oversaw the building of the iconic arched sign at the foot of Colorado Avenue in 1941. In the that followed, Mother Nature, war, politics and general wear and tear threatened the Pier, but residents and supporters fought hard to preserve the landmark. "Proposition 1" was passed in 1975, promising to protect the Pier. Mother Nature again struck the Pier and destroyed one-third of it in 1983. A new Pier was built between 1987 and 1990, and an amusement park was added in 1996. Santa Monica Pier thrives today with the iconic sign marking the entrance to a place of fun, entertainment and history. If you would like to experience some of the action, you can see a live view of the Santa Monica Pier - right this second - by checking out the Santa Monica EarthCam. Pretty fantastic!

LAX Airport Sign

Iconic LAX airport signage. 12-Point SignWorks

The "LAX" letters and pylons make quite a statement as the gateway to Los Angeles. The pylons, which are illuminated from the inside, contain a rainbow of color options. The color selection allows for an unlimited display for cultural events, holidays, and more.
(Image Credits: aricraft.wikia.com, Mark Luethi via flickr) 

If you have traveled into or out of the Los Angeles International Airport, you've probably noticed the towering 32-foot-high "LAX" letters at the entrance. The letters were constructed in 2000 by Selbert Perkins Design as part of the Los Angeles World Airports Gateway LAX Enhancement Project. This multi-million dollar project focused on creating a more appealing identity for the airport and establishing it as a gateway for the approximately 62 million passengers that fly in and out of LA annually. Along with the gigantic letters, a series of fifteen pylons create a colorful display for visitors on land and in the air. The pylons, which can be seen at up to 3,000 feet above ground, are arranged in a circle and are positioned to give the impression of a plane taking off or landing. Although the LAX sign is relatively young, some feel that it will become as iconic as the Hollywood Sign as it welcome visitors and possibly new residents to the city. 


The "LA" got its "X" around 1947 when the International Air Transport Association required all airports to have a three-letter code. Prior to that time, the airports simply used the same two-letter codes used by the National Weather Service to identify specific cities. When this happened, many airports, such as Los Angeles and Phoenix just added an "X" to their existing two-letter code.

The Los Angeles International Airport is the only airport to have its very own hit song. Groovy! The song, "LA International Airport," was written by Leanne Scott. Recorded by Susan Raye in 1971, it hit #9 on the country charts and #54 on the pop chart. It even gained popularity internationally!

We've covered just two more of the iconic signs that can be found in and around the city of Los Angeles. This could continue on into Parts 3, 4, 5 and maybe 6! Do you have a favorite that we haven't mentioned? Leave it for us in the comment section below.

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Sources: Santa Monica Pier History, LAX History,

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