PERSPECTIVE--I am all for saving everything that is left of historic Hollywood. But the Hollywood sign is an exception.
The original sign read Hollywoodland and was known as the Hollywoodland sign. It was constructed to encourage homeowners to live in Hollywoodland beginning in 1923. It’s gone.
The Hollywoodland sign fell down so many times they removed the “land” part forever in 1949 and rebuilt only the “Hollywood” part. Ever since then, it has been attached and represents another area directly south of the sign led by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. In 1973, this sign was declared a Los Angeles Cultural Monument. This sign is gone too because it fell into disrepair.
The Hollywood Chamber requested and received permission to rebuild the sign with private donations in 1978. The Hollywood sign was demolished completely and rebuilt on a new foundation. For three months the crown of Mt. Lee had no sign. It completely disappeared off the hillside.
The current sign has nothing original nor historic to it. It’s a billboard that sells a brand that is not associated with Hollywoodland. By 1986, it was so covered in graffiti that the Hollywoodland Homeowners Association had to force the city to clean it up regularly.
The sign represents the Hollywood business district to the south where much of the historic fabric has disappeared since 1986– especially around Highland and Vine. The current sign represents this “new” Hollywood, our local ‘Manahttan’ where no one can see the sign because of all the over-development. (Although I suppose if you move into one of the new luxury apartments you could pay for a great view of the sign.)
It makes more sense to move this sign where people can access and see it safely and more easily. Especially since it no longer represents the neighborhood it is destroying. Why not move it near a local subway stop? Visitors can even climb on it if they sign a release. We could dedicate the hole it leaves on the hill to parkland for our precious wildlife.
Or if we keep the sign, let’s add the “land” so it at least it replicates the original sign and reads the historically correct “Hollywoodland.” Visitors will learn a little of LA’s history when they come through here.
(Gregory P. Williams has written and self-published two books on Los Angeles history, The Story of Hollywood (winner of National Best Books 2007) and The Story of Hollywoodland. He wrote his first book in 1980 for Jim Henson’s Muppet Press, The Case of Missing Hat, published by Random House. A native of Hollywood, Greg’s paternal grandparents came to Hollywood from Greece in the early part to the twentieth century and ran a grocery store at Sunset Boulevard at Gordon. Greg was born and raised in Hollywoodland.)