If there is one landmark that says “Hollywood” to the world – literally! – it is the famous Hollywood Sign, perched high atop Mount Lee, the tallest peak in L.A.
The Sign measures 450 feet long, its mammoth letters are 45 feet high, and it’s visible from all parts of Hollywood. Erected in 1923 as an advertising sign for a real estate development in Beachwood Canyon, the Sign originally read “Hollywoodland.” The last four letters were removed in 1945, after Hollywood had become the world’s movie capital, and the Sign had already become a well-known landmark. (In fact, it’s been officially declared “Los Angeles Cultural-Historical Monument #111.”)
In 1932, during the Great Depression, one despondent young actress, Peg Entwistle, even jumped to her death from the Sign’s giant letter “H.”
The original sign contained thousands of light bulbs, which were changed daily by a caretaker who lived in a small house behind one of the Sign’s giant “L’s.”
And in the 1998 Disney remake of “Mighty Joe Young,” the oversized ape climbs the Hollywood Sign and perches in one of its giant letter “O.”s
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to reach the Sign itself, which is located atop an undeveloped hillside, far from roads. And if you did manage to reach the area, you would discover that the Sign has been fenced in to keep out the curious, and that a new high-tech alarm system has recently been installed. Boo.
The best way to see the Hollywood Sign is to drive up Beachwood Drive. The Sign is clearly visible most the way up Beachwood, That is where my other “must” visit landmark is located…the Village Cafe or as the locals call it, the Beachwood Cafe.