The Hollywood Sign
The preservationists behind The Hollywood Sign Trust have made sure that this world-famous icon will always be ready for its close-up!
The Hollywood Sign, a world-famous landmark and symbol of Los Angeles’ prosperity and industry, has sat proudly atop the sun-kissed hills of Beachwood Canyon since 1923.
The Sign debuted in 1923 as “Hollywoodland”: a $21,000 temporary billboard for the Hollywoodland real estate development at the end of Beachwood Canyon. It was funded by a syndicate composed of Eli Clark, General Moses Sherman, Tracy Shoults, Sydney Woodruff, and Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler. Having sold its properties, the company, transferred ownership of the Sign and nearby land to the City of Los Angeles in 1944. Although many Angelenos had grown to like the sign and its prominent view from many parts of the city, the sign itself began to experience a gradual decline. In 1947, the city’s Recreation and Parks Commission advocated tearing the Sign down, but residents protested. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce offered to finance the re-election of the letter “H,” provided the last four letters “LAND” were removed.
In April 1949, the Commission granted permission to rebuild the “H,” remove the “LAND,” and refurbish the Sign. The 1949 spruce-up quickly progressed to further periods of neglect. The turbulent decades of the 1960s and 70s, coupled with, wind, rain, sun, termites, and vandalism, all took their toll. However, the Sign continued to be a muse for many: celebrities, artists, locals, and tourists alike. Although in a state of disrepair, the sign was designated a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1973.
Shortly after, the Hollywood Chamber formed two committees to raise awareness and funds to “Save the Sign.” This led to the 1978 action to rebuild and preserve the Sign with the goal of building a more permanent Hollywood Sign matching the original. Thanks to contributions from entertainment leaders and celebrities led by Alice Cooper and Hugh Hefner, among others, making donations of $27,700 per letter, plus donations from over 4,000 individuals and companies. The Hollywood Trust was also established in 1978 to maintain, repair and provide capital improvements to the Sign for the benefit of the public, with a larger mission of helping to preserve Hollywood’s standing as the worldwide center of motion pictures and cinema arts.
In 2021, a clean-up of the Sign and immediate grounds was initiated by the Trust in preparation for a complete paint job–using protective materials– in late 2022. This work, along with the decades of preservation efforts by the Trust, was awarded a Preservation Award from the L.A. Conservancy in 2023.
Today, the Hollywood Sign continues to symbolize Los Angeles’ sense of place and inspires the hopes and dreams of many.
The L.A. Conservancy celebrated the 2023 Preservation Awards winners at the historic Television City in Hollywood with a video showcasing their stories. The program celebrated their hard work, dedication, and achievement. We’re thrilled to share The Hollywood Sign inspiring stories with you.