The Hollywood sign just turned 100 years old, so here is more than you’ve ever wanted to know about it.
The large letters were placed into Mount Lee in 1923, not as a landmark, but to promote a new housing development. The sign originally read “HOLLYWOODLAND.”
To audiences of the era, the sign was captivating, with its 43-ft metal characters lighting up the newly developed Hollywood Hills
By 1944, the sign was still going strong, but the Hollywoodland development had gone under and the sign had become city property.
The developers behind Hollywoodland probably didn’t intend for their installation to be permanent, and the letters began falling apart. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce stepped in to fix it in 1949. When they restored the letters, they removed the “LAND.”
In 1976 (and again in 2017), pranksters altered the sign to read “HOLLYWeeD.”
By the late 70s, the Hollywood Sign had again fallen into a state of disrepair, so Playboy founder Hugh Hefner held a fundraiser, selling off the original letters to wealthy Angelenos. Alice Cooper purchased an “O” and cowboy star Gene Autry got the second “L,” which had been burned by arsonists.
Now, the sign is a closely guarded tourist attraction, and might technically be the most iconic out-of-home ad ever.