For decades when many a would-be star or starlet took in their first view of the famous Hollywood sign that is perched above Los Angeles is a literal sign that they had arrived in a place where dreams could come true. Today, for tourists from all over the world it is instantly recognizable from its appearance in numerous silver screen and television productions.
What many may not know is that the sign, at least when originally erected, had nothing to do with blockbuster films – or the studios that now make their homes in Hollywood. It was actually part of a marketing campaign launched in 1923 for a housing development that was to be known as ‘Hollywoodland’. For those with stars in their eyes it might also come as a surprise to learn that this is no one-off phenomenon – outdoor advertising for property has long been a feature of the area – after all property, not the Silver Screen has always been the most important economic driver in Hollywood.
Today, the original purpose of the sign is a moot point – it has become synonymous with the magic that happens on the studio lots that are still such an important part of the Hollywood mythos.
The sign, which was refurbished in 1978 at a cost of a quarter million dollars, is today a prime attraction for tourists. Those interested in getting close to the iconic Los Angeles landmark can hike up through the Santa Monica Mountains towards the summit of the 1,708-foot Mount Lee. This offers an up-close view of the sign, as well as stunning views over the city. There is also a regular bus service that allows those less energetic to view the sign.
No visit to Los Angeles would be complete without visiting the famous sign – make sure to put it on your itinerary when planning your next trip.