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Hollywood Sign and Hollywoodland Photos

Hollywoodland Development

After having been established in Hollywood for only a decade the motion picture business was considered to have a greater number of employees than any other industry in Los Angeles. The rapid influx of people to Hollywood caused a temporary shortage of housing, especially for those seeking large single – family residences. One of the first real estate developments to satisfy this need was Hollywoodland.

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This magnificent subdivision was officially opened on March 31, 1923 by a syndicate of owners. Located at the northerly portion of Beachwood Drive, the development was located on part of the old Sherman and Clark ranch, which comprised 500 of wooded canyons and knolls. Hollywoodland offered concrete paved streets with curbs, sewers, ornamental lights and bus service to Beverly Hills. The developers prided themselves in being able to offer buyers a country – like atmosphere right in the middle of the city. Several celebrities were  long time residents as were many other celebrities including Max Sennett who plan to build a palatial estate on top of Mount Cahuenga, which loomed behind the tract. He had architect plans and was ready to build when the depression hit in 1929. Not a single shovel of dirt was ever moved.

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Hollywood Photographs

Hundreds of Hollywoodland photos are available for viewing on the hollywoodphotographs.com web site.

Original Hollywoodland Sign

In order to advertise the development, Harry Chandler erected an enormous sign which read Hollywoodland. Completed in 1923 at a cost of $21,000, it was located on the south side of Mount Cahuenga, just above the tract.

The letters, about 30 feet wide and nearly 50 feet tall, and composed of 3 x 9' sheet-metal panels, painted white, and were attached to a framework of pipes, wires, scaffolding and telephone poles dragged up the steep hillside by Caterpillar tractors. A small white dot was also constructed a couple of hundred feet below the sign. And advertising eye-catcher, it consisted of a circular 35 foot diameter sheet metal sign, painted white, with 20 watt lights around the perimeter.

The 13 letter sign was studded with 4000 light bulbs spaced every 8 inches around the perimeter of each letter and were changed, when they burned out, by Albert Kothe. At night, the brilliant site could be seen for miles, attracting countless tourist and local residents. It became a prop for some of the scenes in early movies, and aircraft pilots regarded it as a navigational landmark.

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Too many, Hollywood signified the highest hopes, the ultimate entertainment. But to Lillian Millicent Entwhistle, noted stage actress and graduate of the world famous theater Guild, it's spelled only shattered hopes, defeat and despair. She had come to Hollywood to repeat in films her great success on the New York stage; but misfortune and trouble haunted her steps, and in September 1932, she climbed to the top of the glittering letter H that had grimly mocked her for months, and jumped to her death 50 feet below.

In 1939, 15 years after it was built, maintenance of the sign was discontinued. All 4000 light bulbs were stolen. The sign was vandalized and holes appeared in the letters where the sheet metal panels blew off or were removed.

In 1945, the development company donated the sign and several hundred adjoining acres, to the cities recreation and parks department. Four years later, the signs survived a major crisis. A wind storm blew down the H, and some nearby residents argued that the sign was a hazard and an eyesore.

The parks commission decided to tear down the sign but later reversed itself and allowed the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to repair the first nine letters and remove the last four. Since then, the sign has read Hollywood. At in regular intervals, groups like the Chamber of Commerce have had the metal face scene replaced and painted, but little structure maintenance has been performed.

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New Hollywood Sign

By the mid-1970s the sign was in horrible disk repair and could not be refurbished again. It was decided that the old sign needed to be demolished and a new sign built in exactly the same location. With the financial assistance of several Hollywood celebrities and civic leaders, including Hugh Hefner and Alice Cooper, sufficient money was raised to build a new sign. After months of construction, the new sign was erected using the state of the art materials. On November 11, 1978 the new sign was unveiled to the public. Since then the sign has undergone a couple of minor renovations, primarily the painting of the face of the letters.

There are hundreds of Hollywoodland sign and Hollywood Sign pictures on the hollywoodphotographscom website and the Google+ page.

 

 

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