The Hollywood Sign, located on the south side of Mount Lee in Griffith Park, is likely the most famous sign the world over, and certainly a key landmark of Los Angeles. If you’re in the area, you should definitely take a look at it. Surprising to many is the fact that you can’t actually hike or bicycle to the sign. This is in part because of the danger of the cliffs and land surrounding it, but also because of the security system protecting the sign from vandalism. You can still get a great view of the sign though, even if not an extremely close-up one.
- From the Hollywood & Highland Center, you can get an excellent view of the Hollywood Sign. While at the Hollywood & Highland Center, you can also check out a wide array of places for shopping, dining, and entertainment.
- Another great place from which to see the Hollywood Sign is the Griffith Park Observatory. While there, you can also get a great view of Los Angeles, and, of course, take in the planetarium and all of the great exhibits at the Observatory. Be aware, however, that the Observatory is closed on Mondays and most Tuesdays. More information is available at the Griffith Observatory website.
- Both Canyon Lake Drive and Mulholland Drive also have great views of the sign, with the latter also having a beautiful view of the Los Angeles skyline.
Like many landmarks, the Hollywood Sign has a fascinating history. When built in 1923, the sign read “HOLLYWOODLAND,” and was erected to advertise a new housing development. The letters were covered in 4000 light bulbs, and would light up one word at a time, followed by all three together. The entire project cost a quarter of a million in today’s currency. While the original intention was for the sign to stay up for only 18 months it became such a popular tourist attraction, that it was never taken down. Over time however, the sign began to deteriorate. In 1949, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce repaired it, at which time they removed the last four letters, so that only “Hollywood” remained. The years continued to take their toll so that by the 1970s the top of the second letter had splintered off, and the last ‘O’ had fallen completely away. A public campaign was begun to to raise money and awareness for a new restoration. Nine actors, singers, and others, donated nearly $28,000 each to the project. More recently, in 2005, the letters were again freshly painted.
To learn more you can visit the official Hollywood Sign website: hollywoodsign.org.