Thursday, September 1, 2016

History of the Hollywood Sign | Hike the Hollywood Hills with Copymat

Many have seen the iconic "Hollywood" sign, but very few know the origin. Today we'll take you on a hike through the history of the Hollywood Hills staple.

The legendary sign was created in 1925 & originally read "HOLLYWOODLAND", named after a new housing development in the hills. Real estate developers Woodruff and Shoults called their development "Hollywoodland"& the sign was means of advertisement. They contracted Crescent Sign Company to erect the sign. The company owner, Thomas Fisk Goff, designed the sign. The cost of the project was $21,000 (around $300,000 with current inflation). What a deal! The sign was covered in light bulbs (around 4,000) & flashed in segments of "HOLLY""WOOD"& "LAND" before lighting up entirely. Each letter was 30 feet (9.1 m) wide and 50 feet (15 m) high. Its intended life-span was a year & a half, but after the rise of American Cinema, it became an internationally recognized symbol. They decided to leave it in the hills where it continues to a landmark to the entire world.

The sign reached its most deteriorated state in the 1970's

How did a sign built to last 1.5 years end up lasting almost 100 years? Lot's of money & work. In the 1940's the signs caretaker, Albert Kothe, drove drunk & smashed his vehicle into the letter "H". He destroyed his Ford Model A car as well as the letter. In 1949, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce started a contract with the City of Los Angeles Parks Department to repair and rebuild. The contract stated "LAND"must be taken out, to reflect the Hollywood district as opposed to the Hollywoodland housing development. The Chamber decided not to replace the lightbulbs. The 1949 effort gave the sign new life, but the sign's unprotected wood and sheet metal structure continued to wear down.

In 1978, Hugh Hefner spearheaded a movement to restore the Hollywood sign back to glory. The new letters were 45 feet (14 m) tall and ranged from 31 to 39 feet (9.4 to 11.9 m) wide. Money for the project was raised by nine donors, each giving  $27,777.77 each. The new letters were made of steel & supported by steel columns on a concrete foundation.

Here is the list of donors:

 Now in 2016, the Hollywood letters still attract tourists & dreamers worldwide. The journey continues for perhaps the most famous city sign in the world.

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