There is one site in Los Angeles that I absolutely never get tired of, no matter how many times I see it. Even though I can now officially call myself a native Angeleno, I am not ashamed to admit that I still get a little jolt of butterflies in my stomach every time I see the Hollywood Sign in person. All of my hopes and dreams are represented in those big white letters and the sign is probably my favorite landmark in all of LA. Every time I am on the freeway or in Hollywood and the sign comes into view, I am reminded of why I moved to Los Angeles.
A few years ago, in my fave Hollywood tour book, I found directions to a spot with a view of the sign like no other. High atop a hill in Burbank on Canyon Lake Drive, one can view the Hollywood Sign up close and personal. Driving up there, I am always amazed at the sheer size of the individual letters, which become absolutely ginormous the closer you get to them, in a way that almost feels eerie. From Canyon Lake Drive you can also see incredible views of Lake Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles’ skyline. I highly recommend stalking the sign from Canyon Lake, even if you have lived in Los Angeles for years and have seen the Hollywood sign more times than you can count, as I can pretty safely guarantee that you’ve never seen it like this!
The Hollywood sign, which originally spelled out “Hollywoodland”, was erected in 1923 as a real estate advertisement for a housing development known as Hollywoodland. The sign was deeded to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce in 1945 and the “land” part was subsequently removed so that the sign would be a more accurate representation of the city it sat above. The original letters measured 50 feet in height and 30 feet in width. Over the years the sign became more and more dilapidated, with no one stepping in to repair it. At one point in time, half of the first “O” had fallen off along with the entire third “O” so that the sign read “HuLLYWO D”. In 1978, rock star Alice Cooper spearheaded a campaign to repair the sign, rallying huge donations from celebrities including Hugh Hefner, Gene Autry, and Les Kelly, creator of the Kelly Blue Book. The old sign was taken down and a new one was completed in November of 1978, with letters measuring 45 feet high and 31 to 39 feet wide, and a combined total weight of a whopping 480,000 pounds. The original sign sat in storage for over 20 years until 2005 when it was sold on EBay to an artist named Bill Mack, who is currently creating a piece of artwork out of the letters. You can read an article here about Bill’s artistic renovation of the sign, which includes painting old Hollywood legends onto each letter, including Rita Hayworth, James Dean, Greta Garbo, and my favorite, Marilyn Monroe. Something of a stalker himself, Bill also owns Marilyn Monroe’s bed and the original gate to her home. Sigh!
Until next time, Happy Stalking! 🙂
Stalk It: For the best views of the Hollywood sign, take Lake Hollywood Road off of Barham Boulevard. Follow Lake Hollywood for quite a while until you come to Lake Tahoe Drive. Make a left there. Follow Lake Tahoe to Canyon Lake Drive and make a right. You will see the looming sign on your left hand side. If you follow Canyon Lake past the large park on the left, you will see a little dirt look-out area with amazing views of Downtown LA and Lake Hollywood.