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More Hollywood Sign Images

Hollywood Sign Images

Some of the most popular photos of Hollywood are of the Hollywood sign.   For some unknown reason, the Hollywood sign has become a true Hollywood icon. During the past ten years, the website has sold more than 500 vintage Hollywood Sign photos. Some have been actual prints but most have been digital images. is the largest collection of Hollywood  photos.

As most people know, the famous sign originally read HOLLYWOODLAND which was erected in 1923 as an advertising gimmick for the real estate development, of the same name.  

Historic Hollywoodland Sign photo

Beachwood Canyon

In the early days, the area of Beachwood Canyon was either empty land or used for farming. In 1880, Henry Claussen built a farmhouse, pictured center on a hill overlooking a dirt road named Beachwood Drive.  It was located in an unnamed canyon later called Beachwood Canyon, in honor of developer Albert Beach. The Claussen home still exists in the 6100 block of Winans Drive, between Gower Street and Beachwood Drive.  Formerly facing south, it was moved north on the property and rotated to face east.

The eastern half of what would become Hollywoodland first appeared in records when the federal government issued a patent to the Southern Pacific Railroad on February 9, 1884. On September 26, 1890, the  railroad sold the land to Julia E. Lord for an undetermined amount, and four days later she leased it to Quong Yuen Chung “for the right to cut wood.”  Deeds for mining interest first appeared on December 12, 1893, but were terminated by a court action in 1896. On February 8, 1900, Lord bought the western half of the Hollywood land site from the federal government. On July 8, 1905, she sold the entire 640 acres to E.P. Clark and M.H. Sherman. E. P. Clark and M.H. Sherman, brothers in law, originally from Arizona, controlled the streetcar business in Los Angeles County and bought up land near their transportation lines for later development. From 1905 to 1923 the operating a rock and granite quarry on the future Hollywoodland site. The Sherman and Clark real estate company along with Harry Chandler, Tracy E. Shoultz, and S. H. Woodruff announced, on March 31, 1923, they would open the land for development. The sales office at 2700 North Beachwood Dr. would be constructed at the entrance to the Hollywoodland development.

Dedication of Hollywoodland Sign Photo

Hollywoodland Sign

in an effort to advertise the development it was decided that a sign should be erected on the side of the hill just above the real estate tract. In order to determine if placing a sign on the hillside would even work, a test letter”H” was erected to the east of where the eventual's sign would be built. The Hollywoodland development company contracted with the Crescent sign company to erect 13 letters on the hillside, each facing south. The sign company owner, Thomas Goff designed the side. Each letter of the sign was 30 feet wide and 50 feet tall, and was studded with some 3700 lightbulbs. After about six weeks of construction the sign was officially dedicated in December 1923.

The magazine, Practical Electrics published an article in their September 19, 1924 issue. The following is an excerpt from that article: “the surface of the mountain is very irregular; the ground beneath the sign is rocky. The site is supported by telephone poles 60 to 80 feet in height, several tons of dynamite being expended in making the holes for them. The letters at one and are 15 feet higher than the other, and it was even necessary, on account of the irregular surface, to put some letters in front of others. At a distance all the letters seem to be in a straight line.

2 x 6" timbers, placed 16 to 24 inches between centers, are the horizontal elements of the frame. To this the letters made of galvanized steel are nailed. To illuminate the 13 great letters, 37oo ten-watt light bulbs are used, placed along the edge of each letter. The effect of this is that there is a shadow or dark space between the sides of each letter, which is found to give an advantage in legibility at night. There are 55 outlets to each circuit and the wiring is all open on the back of the structure. Everything centers in a junction box near the center of the sign. Here there is a pilot flasher and time switch.

The flasher switch is on “Holly”, then “Wood”, then “Land” successively: then the whole sign is extinguished and the flasher repeats its work. Taken on a straight line, the sign is 975 feet long and the letters are 45 feet high.”

Photo of Peg Entwhistle

Peg Entwhistle’s Suicide

One of the most tragic events regarding the Hollywood sign was the suicide of actress Peg Entwhistle.  Despondent over her acting career, love life and poor finances, Peg hiked up the hillside, climbed to the top of the letter H and jump to her death, on September 18, 1932. Four years there was a great deal of speculation and mysteries surrounding her death. However, in 1914, author James Zeruk Jr. wrote a book titled, “Peg Entwhistle and the Hollywood Sigh Suicide.” This well researched and written biography explains, in detail, the complexities of Peg’s life.

Hollywoodland Sign Photos

There are more than 500 Hollywoodland Sign photos on the website. The earliest photos show the construction on the sign, with workmen climbing up the hillside to work on the sign. One photo shows a man standing on a beam in the middle of the letter “D”.

Vintage photo of Hollywoodland Sign

Hollywoodland Sign to Hollywood Sign

From 1923, until the mid-1940s, there doesn't seem to have been much written about the Hollywoodland sign. It's uncertain as to how long the sign was lighted. The man who was responsible for replacing the burned-out lightbulbs was Albert Kothe. Periodically, he would climb the back of the sign and replace the burned-out bulbs. More than likely the sign stayed lighted until the 1930s. By the mid-1940s this sign had probably sustained some damage due to the weather. In 1949 a severe storm caused the letter H to fall down. The city of Los Angeles condemned the sign in order to get torn down. John Kingsley and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce opposes the measure, stating it was a landmark at identifying the town and also used to great advantage by airlines for directional purposes. Subsequently the city reversed its decision and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce guaranteed to completely renovate the sign, replace the letter H and lop off the last four letters. Ever since, the sign has read HOLLYWOOD.

Dedication of Hollywood Sign photograph

Hollywood Sign

From 1949 to the mid-1960s, the sign experienced progressive damage due to inclement weather. Sometime in the late 1960s the sign underwent a substantial refurbishment. However, by 1976, the sign needed more repairs. Period this was done but only lasted a couple of years. By 1978, the Hollywood sign was in such disrepair that it was concluded that it needed to be demolished. A massive campaign was instituted to, not only, remove the old sign, but to replace it with a new sign made of new modern materials. Several celebrities, including Hugh Hefner and Alice Cooper contributed money to the new campaign. Hundreds if not thousands of Hollywood residence also got behind the campaign and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a new sign.

In August 1978, the old sign was demolished while Bruce Torrence was able to record the demolition on film. Many of these photos are on the website. After months of construction, the sign was unveiled to the public in November 1978.

Over the course of the following 35 years, the sign has been repaired and repainted. As mentioned above, the Hollywood sign is a true Hollywood icon and revered by millions of people throughout the world.

To see hundreds of Hollywoodland and Hollywood sign photos, please visit the website.









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