IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says that what’s one of the most-photographed signs in the world – HOLLYWOOD on the side of Mt Lee outside Los Angeles – was put up 92 years ago… as a temporary 18 months promotion for a new housing estate.
And it originally spelt-out HOLLYWOODLAND when put up in 1923, with 4,000 20-watt lights set into its thirteen letters, that were each 9 metres wide and 13 metres tall, and stretching a-near 140 metres across the hillside.
At night they blinked “Holly,” followed by “wood” and finally “land,” with the “land” eventually removed in 1945, and bizarrely a full-time caretaker was needed to everyday clamber over each letter to replace scores of globes that had blown overnight.
Interestingly the first movie company to call Hollywood home was a small Chicago-based maker that moved there in 1907, frustrated at being unable to complete a shoot because of its home-city’s erratic weather; within just five years some fifteen others had followed, realising how ideal Hollywood was for film-making.
The rest, as they say, is history – including 90-odd years’ resistance by local residents to successfully thwart developers wanting to build roads up to the sign, and to surround it with restaurants, cafés and observation platforms… so that today it can still only be viewed from a distance.