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The Best Hollywood Sign Photographs

Best Hollywood Sign Photographs

Hollywood Icon 

The Hollywood sign is, unquestionably, the most iconic Hollywood symbol. No other image conveys Hollywood as does the very famous Hollywood sign.

Over the course of more than ninety years, thousands of photographs have been taken of this famous icon. The largest collection of Hollywood sign photos is on the hollywoodphotographs.com website. The collection contains more than 1000 Hollywood sign photos, of which 250 are on the website. The photos include everything from the construction of the sign, which originally read Hollywoodland, the sign’s dedication, the 1949 damage, the original Hollywood sign, the deterioration of the sign, demolition of the sign, construction of the new sign, and the many alterations that took place beginning in the 1970’s.

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Hollywoodland Sign

The Hollywoodland sign was the idea of the developers, of the real estate development called Hollywoodland. One of the developers was Harry Chandler, publisher of the Los Angeles times. Begun in 1923, and located at the north and of Beachwood Drive (at the base of the Hollywood Hills), the Hollywoodland tract was one of the earliest developments in the Hollywood Hills.  In order to promote and advertise the real estate development, Harry Chandler and others decided to erect a large sign in the hills just above their development. Construction was started some time in mid-1923 and took just a few months to complete. The exact date is unknown.

The developers contracted with the Western construction company to build the sign. Large telephone poles were sunk into the ground and then cross beams and wire were placed across the letters to add additional strength to the sign. Then the structure was faced with sheet metal to spell out the word Hollywoodland. The hollywoodphotographs.com website has many photos of the construction of the sign, including one which shows one of the workmen standing in the middle of the letter D.

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Dedication Of The Hollywoodland Sign

Once the sign was completed, Harry Chandler, other Hollywood land principals and guest walked up the hillside to take photos of the dedication of the sign. There are many photos of the dedication on the hollywoodphotograps.com website.

Over the course of the next several years many photographs were taken of the sign from different angles. Even some photos were taken from an airplane. These aerial photos were taken by the pioneering aerial photographer, Robert Spence.

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Peg Entwhistle Suicide

One of the most tragic events, involving the Hollywoodland sign was the suicide of Peg Entwhistle. Apparently, the young actress was despondent over her acting career. One night in 1932, she made it up the hillside, climbed a ladder and jumped off the letter H. A portrait photograph, dated 1930, of the actress is also on the hollywoodphotographs.com website.

First restoration of the Hollywood sign

Twenty-six years after the Hollywood land sign was erected, a significant rain and wind-storm hit the Hollywood area. The effect of the wind knocked the letter H to the ground. Some of the other letters sustained some damage. In 1949, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce entered into a contract with the City of Los Angeles Parks Department to repair and rebuild the sign. The contract stipulated that the last four letters be removed so that the sign would spell Hollywood and would reflect the district, not the Hollywood land housing development. The Parks Department dictated that all subsequent illumination would be at the cost of the chamber, so the chamber opted not to like the sign. Ever since the sign’s restoration, the sign has read HOLLYWOOD. The 1949 effort gave the sign new life, but the sign’s unprotected wood and sheet metal structure continued to deteriorate.

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Save The Sign Campaign

For the next twenty-five years, the sign seemed to weather the elements pretty well. However, by 1975-1976 the sign showed serious signs of deterioration. Many of the photos on the hollywoodphotographs.com website show evidence of how debilitated the sign had become, by the mid-1970s. In 1976 the Chamber of Commerce undertook a campaign to save and refurbish the deteriorated sign. This campaign was called, Save The Sign. Funds were raised and the sign received a facelift. However, within a couple of years the signs showed considerably more deterioration. Many of the photos on the hollywoodphotographs.com website, show how debilitated and damaged the sign had become, due to mother nature's elements.

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Replacing the old Hollywood sign in 1978, was due, in large part, because of the public campaign to restore the landmark. The Chamber of Commerce set out to replace the intensely deteriorated sign with a more permanent structure. Nine donors gave $27,700 each to sponsor replacement letters, made of steel. The letters were 45 feet tall and range from 31 to 39 feet wide. After the old sign was demolished, the new sign was erected in exactly the same location, as the old one. The new HOLLYWOOD sign was unveiled on Hollywood's 75th anniversary, November 14, 1978, before a live television audience of 70 million people. One of the finest photographs taken of the unveiling of the new sign, was taken by Bruce Torrence, who perched himself across the canyon from the sign, with the intent of taking photos of the unveiling of the new sign. As it turned out, he took a photo at the same time all the klieg lights and illumination was turned on. That photo, has adorned the cover of several books and websites, including the hollywoodphotographs.com website. After the unveiling of the new sign, Hugh Hefner hosted a signed party at the Playboy mansion. Photos of that party also appear on the hollywoodphotographs.com website.

Recent refurbishment

In 2005, the sign underwent a bit of a touchup when the Bay Cal Commercial Painting Company had its workers strip the letters back to their original metal base and repainting them white. Also, on the hollywoodphotographs.com website, are photos showing the repainting of the Hollywood sign.

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Save The Peak Campaign

In 2009, Fox River Financial Resources Inc., which owned the 138 acres behind the Hollywood sign, put the property up for sale. Developers have been eyeing the hillside, once owned by Howard Hughes, for luxury mansions. However a nonprofit land conservation group was given the chance to buy the land for $12.5 million. As the April 30, 2010 deadline neared, the group was nearly $1 million short. Hugh Hefner anted up $900,000, which helped the campaign cross the finish line. On Monday, the Trust for Public Land announced that, thanks to Hefner's gift, and an additional $500,000 from the Tiffany & Company Foundation and Eileen Getty, it finally had the $12.5 million needed to buy Cahuenga Peak from Fox River Financial Resources Inc. The 138 acre property, which offers a spectacular 360 degree panorama of the Los Angeles basin and the San Fernando Valley, now would become part of Griffith Park.

Hollywood Sign Alterations

For 50 years, from 1923 to 1973, the Hollywood sign was never the subject of vandalism or alteration. However, in 1973, an unknown person painted the image of singer, Leon Russell, on a large piece of white canvas. Then, he hiked up to the Hollywood sign and draped the large canvas over the letter D. Three years later the sign was, again, altered to read Hollyweed in order to commemorate the relaxed laws regarding the possession of marijuana. Danny Finegood, who altered the sign to read Hollyweed, was responsible for altering the sign to read Holywood, as a tribute to Easter.  Since then, the Hollywood sign has been altered many times to read such words as, Go Navy, Fox, Caltech, Perotwood and Go UCLA. Photos of many of these alterations can also be seen on the hollywoodphotographs.com website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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