The Hollywood Sign



Seeing Stars: Hollywood Landmarks..  

(atop Mount Lee, in the Hollywood Hills)

If there is one landmark that says "Hollywood" to the world - literally! - it is the famous Hollywood Sign, perched high atop Mount Lee, the tallest peak in L.A.

The Sign measures 450 feet long, its mammoth letters are 45 feet high, and it's visible from all parts of Hollywood. Erected in 1923 as an advertising sign for a real estate development in Beachwood Canyon, the Sign originally read "Hollywoodland." The last four letters were removed in 1945, after Hollywood had become the world's movie capital, and the Sign had already become a well-known landmark. (In fact, it's been officially declared "Los Angeles Cultural-Historical Monument #111.")

In 1932, during the Great Depression, one despondent young actress, Peg Entwistle, even jumped to her death from the Sign's giant letter "H."

The original sign contained thousands of light bulbs, which were changed daily by a caretaker who lived in a small house behind one of the Sign's giant "L's."

And in the 1998 Disney remake of "Mighty Joe Young," the oversized ape climbs the Hollywood Sign and perches in one of its giant letter "O."s

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to reach the Sign itself, which is located atop an undeveloped hillside, far from roads. And if you did manage to reach the area, you would discover that the Sign has been fenced in to keep out the curious, and that a new high-tech alarm system has recently been installed.  I recommend that you settle for just looking at the Sign from a safe distance.

The best way to see the Hollywood Sign is to drive up Beachwood Drive (north of Hollywood Boulevard). The Sign is clearly visible most the way up Beachwood, although the hills begin to obscure the view of the Sign near the top of the drive.  (But be warned that the local residents are up in arms about the traffic generated by tourists trying to see the sign.)

If you don't want to drive up Beachwood, here are a few of the other obvious places where you can easily spot the Hollywood Sign on a clear day:

Hollywood & Highland: walk to the back of the center's main level
         (right next to California Pizza Kitchen), and they've set up a viewing area
         where you can see the Sign (albeit, from a considerable distance) and
         pose for pictures with the Sign behind you.  (Hint: step back and use a
         zoom lens - it will make the background look closer.)  They also have one
         of those coin-fed telescopes there, for a closer view.

    The Beverly Center mall: the Sign can be seen when riding the
             exterior escalator tubes on the mall's east side, or from the outdoor
             food court patio on the mall's top floor.

    The Hollywood (101) Freeway: drivers on the northbound freeway get
              a brief glimpse of the Sign in between the Santa Monica Boulevard
              exit and the Sunset Boulevard exit.

    The Hollywood Bowl: the sign can be seen behind the bowl - and a
              little to the left - but only from the upper bleachers.

    The gate at the Hollywood Memorial Cemetery (looking north),
              next door to Paramount Studios.

    The top of the hill at Barnsdall Art Park, on east Hollywood Boulevard:
              look to the east of the Observatory.

    The Griffith Park Observatory: from its parking lot, look northwest, and

    Lake Hollywood: the entrance is located on Weidlake Drive.

    The Bronson Caves.

In 2013, Ron B. sent me this photo of the view of the Hollywood Sign
as seen from the Bronson Caves (click on the photo for a larger version):

Ron then hiked up the trail from Bronson Canyon to the Sign, and got this shot from behind:

Getting there: The Hollywood Sign is located atop Mount Lee, in the Hollywood Hills, northeast of downtown Hollywood. For the best view, take Beachwood Drive north up into the hills. / To reach Beachwood Drive from Hollywood & Vine, take Hollywood Boulevard east (a quarter mile), to Gower Street. Turn left (north) up Gower (three blocks, under the freeway) to Franklin Avenue. Turn right (east) on Franklin, then immediately turn left (north) up Beachwood Drive, into the hills. It's a long, twisting drive. To reach Beachwood Drive from the Hollywood (101) Freeway, take the Gower Street exit, then turn right (north) up Beachwood Drive.

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Copyright  1999-2024-Gary Wayne
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