Ahead of its centennial L.A.’s Hollywood Sign undergoes a refurbishment

Big Day for the Big Letters

Ahead of its centennial L.A.’s Hollywood Sign undergoes a refurbishment

(Thomas Wolf/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0)

There is likely no other landmark as emblematic of La La Land as the Hollywood Sign, a grouping of larger-than-life letters perched atop Mount Lee within the Santa Monica Mountains. A symbol of the city and its movie production legacy, the sign will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2023 and in anticipation of its triple-digit-birthday will undergo a refurbishment that will make it shine brighter and whiter than ever.

First installed on the craggy, hillside site in 1923, the sign was constructed as an advertisement for real estate development company Woodruff and Shoults to promote their new nearby housing development known as “Hollywoodland.” Once installed, it spelled out the neighborhood’s name in large 50-foot-tall, white wooden letters with flashing lights because massive letters alone weren’t enough of an attention grab. It was only intended to stay standing for just over a year, but remained in situ as the city below entered the Golden Age of Hollywood.

In 1949, the “LAND” portion was removed, following a campaign that called for removal of the deteriorating sign from its hillside perch. It has been repaired and restored a number of times over its lifetime, fixing split-in-half letters. In 1978, the same year the The Hollywood Sign Trust was founded, the sign was fully replaced with metal letters. Today, the nonprofit organization is solely dedicated to preserving the symbol and involves itself with its continued upkeep and maintenance.

While the sign has undergone regular maintenance work under the auspices of the Trust, it has also been the subject of a number of creative schemes aimed at increasing public access to the site, which can only be (legally) viewed from a distance. A plan proposed in 2018 suggested erecting a duplicate sign on the northern slope and adding a visitor center, viewing platform, and transportation. A scheme later proposal from Warner-Brothers proposed a gondola system from its Burbank studios to the landmark, to be known as the Hollywood Skyway, however, concerns over its “safety and feasibility” halted the plan from moving forward.

For this latest refurbishment, the Trust has partnered with paint manufacturer and retailer Sherwin-Williams to groom and clean up the sign, which was last refreshed in 2012, prior to its 90th anniversary. The paint company will use just about 400 gallons of paint and primer on the landmark. For those curious about the color (and looking to use it for their next home renovation project), the shade is Emerald Rain Refresh in Extra White SW 7006 or, for short, Hollywood Centennial White.

“The Sign is the pride of Los Angeles and we are excited for fans all around the world to see this makeover for a very special 100 anniversary,” said Jeff Zarrinnam, chair of the Hollywood Sign Trust said in a statement. “The opportunity to partner again with Sherwin-Williams on this extensive project will help continue the legacy of the Sign, a symbol of a place where magic is possible and where dreams can come true.”

The shade of white is mixed with Emerald Rain Refresh, an “ultra-durable exterior coating” that shields its sheen from UV glare and the elements. It is also mixed with Sherwin-Williams’s Self-Cleaning Technology, which washes away dirt with a splash of rain or water.

The entire maintenance project is estimated to take eight weeks; it kicked off on September 19 and is projected to finish by mid-November. L.A-based commercial painting company Duggan and Associates is performing the brush strokes on the 45-foot-high letters. And for those inclined to watch the proceedings, a live webcam installed on the site allows fans to view the work in action.

Happy (almost) birthday to the Hollywood Sign, may it live another 100 years!