The Hollywood Sign is LA's most famous landmark and is one of the most recognized landmarks in the world. It may also be the only major landmark whose status was completely unintended. It was originally built in 1924 to promote the Hollywoodland real estate development in the foothills and canyons of Mt. Lee, a neighborhood now known as Beachwood Canyon.
The 50-foot high billboard, placed on Mt. Lee 1000 feet above the city, was originally lit with 4,000 light bulbs. It was only designed to last until all the property was sold, which they expected to be about 18 months. Nevertheless, until 1939, the company paid for a caretaker for the sign (1), who lived in a cottage behind the first L. When they ran out of funding for the caretaker, the sign fell into disrepair, so the developers deeded the land north of Mulholland Highway, including the Hollywood Sign to the City of Los Angeles in 1944 and it became part of Griffith Park.
In 1949, the City of Los Angeles was beginning to tear down the dilapidated sign when community outcries changed the plan and led to the sign's restoration, minus the LAND and minus the lights. In the 1970s, the sign was once again in bad shape. Hollywood's A-list rose to the challenge and various celebrities helped foot the bill for a complete restoration. Alice Cooper sponsored an O, Gene Autry paid to rebuild an L and Paul Williams put up the cash for the W. The famed landmark got its most recent paint job in 2006.
In 2010, a large chunk of Mt. Lee came under threat of development after the Howard Hughes Estate sold a large parcel of land there to Chinese developers. A fundraising campaign which covered the sign with the words "Save Our Peak" successfully raised enough money to buy the land and add it to the adjacent Griffith Park, protecting the cherished view for future generations.
On a clear day, the Hollywood Sign is visible all across the Los Angeles Basin, including from Downtown high rise buildings, and even from Signal Hill, almost 30 miles south (through the coin telescopes at least).
Check out the Best Views of the Hollywood Sign