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The Hollywood Sign
Considered architecturally, the Hollywood Sign is the inversion of the Tour Eiffel, the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, The Kremlin, and Big Ben. It is collosal, but it was meant to advertise only a neighborhood with home-lots to sell, back in 1923 when it read "Hollywoodland." Collosal kitsch might be a formal aesthetic classification for it. The Paris, New York, and London icons were intended to symbolize a nation-state capital city and its soaring greatness. It is very hard to say what the Hollywood Sign was "intended" for, given its original purpose as a real estate billboard. The last four letters were removed in 1945 when the dilapidating sign was donated to the City of Los Angeles. The City treated it like any other routine utility property, however, and it continued to rust away until 1978, when human Hollywood icons such as Gene Autry "adopted" individual letters (at about $28,000 a piece) in a successful effort to restore it. By that point the Hollywood Sign had become a billboard for everything about Los Angeles, from "The Industry"--as it is called here, to the City itself. Unplanned and undesigned in a profound way--in effect a "found" object--it has nevertheless ascended to the very Pantheon of global icons. It is now the Mother of All Backdrops. Its letters are all 50 feet tall, and were originally edged with 4,000 twenty-watt light bulbs.
The Hollywood sign is seen here from North Beachwood Drive at Cheremoya Ave. It stands on Mt. Lee within the boundaries of Griffith Park.

Photo: Philip J. Ethington

Note: Highways are shown for reference