What does the word Hollywood remind you of? Historic movies, amazing performances, phenomenal scripts, and the iconic HOLLYWOOD sign? We can’t deny the fact that whenever we think of Hollywood, the iconic sign hanging on the cliff surfaces in our head no matter what. But before it could become the beloved attraction drawing everyone’s attention. The sign had to see years of neglect, disrepair, and a massive restoration.
The fancy sign has an inside story that only a few people know. Hence this blog unveils the secrets of the most famous iconic the HOLLYWOOD sign.
Was it just an advertisement stunt?
The Hollywood Sign was originally designed to attract city-dwellers out to new housing development at the end of Beachwood Canyon. A Group of investors Eli Clark, Moses Sherman, Tracy Shoults, Sydney Woodruff, and Harry Chandler backed the sign “Hollywoodland” to bring attention to their new, upscale real estate development with the same name. However, there are a few several competing stories on who actually proposed the idea of a giant and eye-catching sign. It was erected for $21,000 in 1923. The real state agents offered residents spacious homes with cleaner air than in the denser downtown areas of Los Angeles.
The making of such an extravagant sign for sure wasn’t easy. The workers carried construction materials up the steep hills by a combination of mules, a tractor, and their own hands. Can you believe that the workers had to scramble up ladders and scaffolds to install each of the 3,700 lightbulbs to make the letters? The lights of the sign were even acknowledged by the Los Angeles Evening Express on December 3, 1923, as the world’s largest. Besides, its glorifying image, it needed constant maintenance from a full-time caretaker. Unfortunately, the lights lasted only for a decade. Because the real estate investors dissolved their partnership and handed it over to a new company. Likewise, M.H. Sherman Company didn’t keep up with the lights to cut off costs.
Evolution of the sign
Like I said before, the sign has its one inside story and had to go through a lot of thicks and thins. A windstorm in 1936 dragged one of the O panels. And the person who managed Hollywoodland at that time acknowledged that the sign would be too expensive to bother. Eventually, two more letters fell. Seems like it wasn’t always the public’s favorite because the public complained about the sign being an eyesore. That’s why some more upgrades were introduced in 1939. Even after upgrading and constant repairing a year later, the H fell over again!
While the letters didn’t stop to collapse and crumble. In 1947, the Recreation and Parks Department proposed to bring down the whole thing. That was when John Kingsley of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce proposed a deal. He decided to pay for some repairs. But in exchange, they had to remove “land” from the sign. His sole notion was to thus repurpose it as an advertisement for all of Hollywood, the neighborhood, and the industry. The sign then stood not just for a property but a whole industry of entertainment as well. In 1949, the plan was approved. That was the major and the best repairing for nearly 25 years of the long run.
In 1978, the old sign was removed, and a new, updated sign replaced it. This time workers didn’t have to risk their life because concrete foundations were delivered by helicopters. It was built from steel beams and many long-lasting concretes.
The sign as we see today
Over the last 40 years, Hollywood Sign Trust shares the responsibility of sign with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Los Angeles. The city owns the land on which the sign sits. Likewise, the Chamber looks after licensing the sign’s image. And the nonprofit Trust is the primary body in charge of maintenance and repairs. Since 1978, the Trust has updated multiple rounds of fresh paint on the letters. Not only that over the years, but an extensive security system also guards the property. Safe to say that the iconic famous monument is being well preserved.