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December 27, 2014

Struth! Hollywood sign of the times

THE sign today after a major restoration in the late 1970s.
THE famous HOLLYWOOD sign soon after it was erected in
December 1923 to promote a real estate development;
the letters LAND were removed in 1949.

IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says that when a real estate company in California put up a sign promoting a new land sale on the outskirts of Los Angeles in December 1923, it planned on it staying in place for around 18 months.

That was 91 years ago, and the sign is still there today – albeit having been shortened by four letters – and is probably the most-photographed and recognised billboard the world has ever known.

It's the famous single-word HOLLYWOOD that stretches 110m across Mt Lee in the Hollywood Hills in letters 45m high, and which originally read HOLLYWOODLAND, the name of the real estate development.

The letters LAND were removed in 1949 and when the remainder fell into disrepair by the late 1970s, founder of Playboy magazine, Hugh Hefner and eight others including cowboy movie star Gene Autry and singers Andy Williams and Alice Cooper, gave US$27,778 each to totally restore it at a cost of $250,000.

The sign is so popular that some 40 tour companies now run daily trips from Los Angeles to viewing points in the Hills to ogle and photograph it, while LA's Dept of Recreation and Parks has an el cheapo US$10pp shuttle throughout Saturdays and Sundays to the Griffith Space Observatory that also provides excellent viewing both of the sign and Los Angeles spread out below.

Free entry to the Observatory is also included with the shuttle; check out www.laparks.org

(Images Los Angeles Dept of Recreation and Parks)


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