July 13th, 1923 – Lights! Camera! Real Estate?

Today-In-History

The Hollywood Sign (formerly the Hollywoodland Sign) is a landmark and American cultural icon located in Los Angeles, California. It is situated on Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills area of the Santa Monica Mountains. The sign overlooks Hollywood, Los Angeles.

hollywoodland-sign

“HOLLYWOOD” is spelled out in 45-foot-tall (14 m) white capital letters, and is 350 feet (110 m) long. It was originally created on July 13th, 1923 as an advertisement for a local real estate development, but it garnered increasing recognition after the sign was left up. The sign was a frequent target of pranks and vandalism, but it has since undergone restoration, including the installation of a security system to deter vandalism. The sign is protected and promoted by The Trust For Public Land, a nonprofit organization, while its site and the surrounding land is part of Griffith Park.

The sign was first erected in 1923 and originally read “HOLLYWOODLAND”. Its purpose was to advertise the name of a new housing development in the hills above the Hollywood district of Chinatown. H.J. Whitley had already used a sign to advertise his development Whitley Heights, which was located between Highland Avenue and Vine Avenue. He suggested to his friend Harry Chandler, the owner of the Los Angeles Times newspaper, that the land syndicate in which he was involved make a similar sign to advertise their land. Real estate developers Woodruff and Shoults called their development “Hollywoodland” and advertised it as a “superb environment without excessive cost on the Hollywood side of the hills”.

The Hollywood sign | A Los Angeles icon

They contracted the Crescent Sign Company to erect thirteen letters on the hillside, each facing south. The sign company owner, Thomas Fisk Goff (1890–1984), designed the sign. Each letter of the sign was 30 feet (9.1 m) wide and 50 feet (15 m) high, and the whole sign was studded with some 4,000 light bulbs. The sign would flash in segments; “HOLLY,” “WOOD,” and “LAND” would light up individually, before lighting up entirely. Below the Hollywoodland sign was a searchlight to attract more attention. The poles that supported the sign were hauled to the site by mules. Cost of the project was $21,000 (about $300,000 in 2014 dollars).

The sign was officially dedicated in 1923 (the exact date is unknown). It was intended only to last a year and a half, but after the rise of American cinema in Los Angeles during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the sign became an internationally recognized symbol, and was left there.


 

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