The year 2023 is special. While there are so many events going on in the present year, there is something that makes 2023 even more special, especially for Los Angeles. As the year nears its end, let us remind the world of the famous "HOLLYWOOD" sign in Los Angeles, that completes a century in the year 2023.
Everything began with a lurid advertisement in the Hollywood Hills for a real estate development in late 1923. That was a huge sign that read, "HOLLYWOODLAND."
While ideally, the sign was put up with the intention of removing it after 18 months, that clearly did not happen, and now, in the year 2023, we celebrate the 100th year of the sign that has become a robust tourist attraction for years.
"HOLLYWOODLAND" or just "HOLLYWOOD"?
One can clearly make out that while originally the sign read "HOLLYWOODLAND", today it is just the "HOLLYWOOD" that can be seen. What is the story behind this? Well, it was in the year 1949 when the sign did away with the "LAND" part. This was when the city took ownership of the sign. And oh, while we celebrate a complete century, it wouldn't be correct to say that the sign has remained this way in all these years. In the last 10 decades, the appearance of the sign has been altered by a myriad of stunts. For instance, in the year 1976, some adjustments were made to the sign to make it spell "HOLLYWeeD" instead of "HOLLYWOOD". This was related to the time when marijuana laws were relaxed at that time.
But, the history of the "HOLLYWOOD" sign could not be any stranger!
While today the iconic "HOLLYWOOD" sign is a tourist destination, this was not the situation since the beginning. As stated above, the sign was an advertisement. However, while many tourist attraction pamphlets are going to tell you this, not many know that in the year 1932, it was a suicide site for the ones who found death easier than life.
Shocked? There is more. In the 1960s, the sign saw severe deterioration, and that is when the nonprofit Hollywood Sign Trust described it to be “a glaring badge of dishonor—rusted, dilapidated, soon to literally crumble under its own weight.”
What is the present-day significance of the "HOLLYWOOD" sign?
Presently, the main purpose of the sign is to acknowledge the physical heartland of the film industry. Author of "Oscar Wards: A History of Hollywood in Gold, Sweat, and Tears", Michael Schulman says, “The Hollywood sign is a perfect representation of Hollywood the place.” “Like an old movie set, it’s a showbiz illusion: two-dimensional and only presentable from the front.” the author added.
Others also express their views on the Hollywood sign. For instance, Leo Braudy, a cultural historian in "The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy and Reality of an American Icon", expresses, “Instead of looking at the Liberty Bell or the Lincoln Memorial and appreciating their importance and the history they represent, we look at the Hollywood sign and it looks back at us, enlarging our sense of our prestige by its symbolic aura.”
Are there other institutions that deserve some celebration?
Well, yes. The year 2023 is lucky for other Los Angeles institutions as well. For instance, the Biltmore Hotel and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum are also institutions that complete their 100 years in the year 2023.