Thirteen facts about the Hollywood sign. I spent five nights in Hollywood and this sign seems to float overhead, adding a little glamor to what can at times be a pretty tacky place.
1. When it was first built in 1923, the sign had nothing to do with the movie business. It was an ad for "Hollywoodland," a real estate development.
2. The letters are 45' tall and today they are made of metal. They were originally constructed of wood and metal, but the wood couldn't withstand the elements and in the 1940s were replaced with 100% metal.
3. The letters are painted in a bright white and outlined in black for maximum visibility.
4. The Hollywood sign sits on land that is part of Griffith Park.
5. While it can easily be seen from countless vantage points, tourists can hike up to the sign along a trail through Griffith Park.
6. If you'd rather ride, the Hollywood sign is a stop on many of the sight seeing bus tours.
7. Earlier in
2000s, a developer wanted to build homes nearby, but that idea was nixed
by the City of Los Angeles. To protect it, the sign has been declared a cultural landmark.
8. Because it's so iconic, it's often been the target of vandals. Most notably, in the 1970s it was changed to read "Hollyweed."
9. It was repaired quickly by the Hollywood Sign Trust, a charitable organization created for the sign's upkeep.
10. In 1978, Alice Cooper donated $30,000 to the trust in memory of Groucho Marx.
11. In case you're thinking of doing a little mischief up there, know that the letters are now protected by security sensors.
12. The sign was infamous in 1932 when 24-year-old actress Peg Entwistle leapt from the "H" to her death. Her suicide note said, "I am afraid I am a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago, I would have saved a lot of pain. P.E." No one knows for certain why she did it, but her career was progressing so her reasons were likely personal, not professional.
13. It was also once hit by a drunk driver. Back in the Roaring 20s, a man lost control of his car and it rolled down the hill into the "H." The car was totaled, but the driver survived and the "H" was repaired.
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