This week the nonprofit that stewards the famous Hollywood Sign revealed plans for a visitor center near the iconic letters in the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles.
“People from all over the world have been captivated by the recent transformation of the Hollywood Sign, and now with fresh paint and the upcoming 100th anniversary, we are thrilled to move ahead on plans to create a one-of-a-kind Visitor Center,” Hollywood Sign Trust Chair Jeff Zarrinnam said in a press release. “Over the years, visitors and locals have expressed great interest in a ‘close-up’ experience where they can learn more about the roots of the Hollywood Sign, its legendary stories, and the epic hopes and dreams the Sign continues to inspire.”
Right now, those who want to get up close to the sign can hike six miles round trip from Griffith Observatory, or take a shorter path from a public road (much to the chagrin of nearby homeowners).
The famous sign was originally longer and not designed to last. Real estate developer Harry Chandler commissioned the HOLLYWOODLAND sign in 1923 as a temporary advertisement for a luxe development in the hills; studded with 4,000 lightbulbs, its 30-by-50-foot block letters flashed HOLLY, WOOD, and LAND on and off. Although it was only supposed to shine for 18 months, the increasing prominence of the film industry and its association with L.A. prompted the owners to keep the sign up for over 25 years. In 1949, City of Los Angeles Parks Department removed the “LAND,” leaving the graphic we know today.
By 1978, however, the sign was in bad shape. After a fundraising campaign led by Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, donors financed the construction of new steel letters in a slightly different dimensions and configuration than the original. The Hollywood Sign Trust was founded that same year.
This latest fundraising campaign aims to cultivate sponsorships and offer memberships to Angelenos and members of the entertainment industry. Possible visitor center locations and concept designs are forthcoming. The announcement builds on the Trust’s work late last year to repaint the sign ahead of its centennial birthday.
AN will circle back to when more details about the forthcoming visitor center are announced.