The Hollywood Sign
Mt. Lee · Los Angeles, CA
You might think it would have some kind of official name. Something more obscure like the Mount Lee Marketing Ploy of Hollywood. But no, it's just "the Hollywood Sign."
It was first erected in 1923 and was, at the time, fitted with 4,000 light bulbs. Also, as most people know, it originally read "HOLLYWOODLAND." And as the rumor goes, the last four letters fell down and were never replaced. You can find that rumor published as fact, too, in many books. The truth, however, according to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, is that the "LAND" was removed deliberately in 1949 when the sign underwent a makeover. After nearly 26 years, it had fallen into desperate disrepair. After all, it had been designed to last only about a year and a half.
But by 1978, the sign had once again deteriorated and was finally replaced with letters constructed of steel. Each letter now measures to a height of 45 feet and a width ranging from 31 to nearly 40 feet.
Many, however, have not been satisfied with the sign's limited vocabulary. It has been changed many times — illegally mind you — in celebration of various events: OLLYWOOD during the Iran-Contra hearings, HOLYWOOD during a Pope's visit, and my personal favorite, HOLLYWEED, in reaction to a new state marijuana law. More impressive alterations included GO NAVY, CALTECH, and of course the enigmatic RAFFEYSOD, the meaning of which has never been determined.
Keeping in mind that it is now illegal to hike to the sign, I've decided to include directions to the best vantage point I've come across so far. From Franklin, about two blocks east of the 101, turn north onto Beachwood. Then take a left on Wedgewood. Take that to Deronda, and from there just follow the LAFD Helipad signs. Follow it up as far as you can, but do drive slowly. The streets are extremely narrow and twist like a Crazy Straw. There's probably a closer viewpoint, but I always get lost trying to find it and end up crying like a little girl.
The aforementioned spot, however, gets pretty crowded sometimes, which annoys residents. So, it's probably a safer bet just to find Lake Hollywood Park, pictured above and located along Canyon Lake Drive.
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Visited July 25, 1998
Photo Updated July 9, 2000