All About the Hollywood Sign: The Start, The Story, and Getting the Perfect Photo On Your Visit to Los Angeles


The Hollywood Sign is one of the most iconic landmarks in the world, representing the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry. Located on Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills area of the Santa Monica Mountains, the sign has become a symbol of the hopes and dreams associated with the film industry. This article delves into the history of the Hollywood Sign, its significance to the city of Hollywood and Los Angeles, and how visitors can best experience this legendary landmark.

The Creation of the Hollywood Sign

The Hollywood Sign was originally created in 1923 as an advertisement for a real estate development. At the time, it read "HOLLYWOODLAND" and was intended to promote a new housing subdivision in the hills above the Hollywood district of Los Angeles. The sign was the brainchild of Harry Chandler, the owner of the Los Angeles Times, and was designed by the sign-making company Crescent Sign Company.

Each letter of the original sign was 30 feet wide and 50 feet tall, constructed of wood and sheet metal. The entire sign was illuminated by around 4,000 light bulbs, making it visible from miles away. Initially, it was meant to stand for only about a year and a half, but due to its popularity, it was left in place.


Historical Evolution

Over the decades, the Hollywood Sign has seen numerous changes and renovations, each reflecting the evolving landscape of Hollywood and Los Angeles.

1930s-1940s: The Decline

By the late 1930s, the sign had become a symbol not just of Hollywood, but of the American film industry. However, it also began to show signs of wear and tear. The Great Depression and World War II diverted attention and resources, and the sign fell into a state of disrepair.

In 1949, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce entered into an agreement with the City of Los Angeles to repair and rebuild the sign. As part of the restoration, the last four letters, "LAND," were removed to reflect the district rather than the real estate development. The sign now simply read "HOLLYWOOD."


1970s: The Revival

By the 1970s, the Hollywood Sign had deteriorated significantly. The original wooden and sheet metal construction had rotted, and several letters had fallen over or become damaged. In response, a public campaign was launched to save the sign. Celebrities and donors, including Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, contributed to a fund to rebuild the sign.

In 1978, the old sign was replaced with a new one made of steel, with each letter measuring 45 feet in height and 31 to 39 feet in width. The refurbishment cost around $250,000, and the new sign was designed to be more durable and permanent.

The Significance to Hollywood and Los Angeles

The Hollywood Sign is more than just a sign; it is a cultural and historical landmark that embodies the spirit of the entertainment industry. It represents the dreams and aspirations of countless actors, directors, writers, and other creatives who come to Hollywood with hopes of making it big.

Symbol of the Entertainment Industry

For nearly a century, the Hollywood Sign has been a beacon for the film and television industries. It has appeared in numerous movies, TV shows, and photographs, becoming an integral part of Hollywood’s identity. The sign's image is synonymous with the magic of cinema and the allure of stardom.

Tourist Attraction

As one of the most recognizable symbols in the world, the Hollywood Sign attracts millions of visitors each year. Tourists from all corners of the globe come to see the sign, take pictures, and experience a piece of Hollywood history. It serves as a reminder of the city's rich cultural heritage and its pivotal role in the global entertainment landscape.

Seeing the Hollywood Sign

For those visiting Los Angeles, seeing the Hollywood Sign up close is a must. There are several ways to get a great view of the sign, from hiking trails to specific vantage points around the city.

Hiking Trails

One of the most popular ways to see the Hollywood Sign is by hiking. The Griffith Park area offers several trails that lead to excellent viewing spots. The Mount Hollywood Trail, the Brush Canyon Trail, and the Cahuenga Peak Trail are among the best options for hikers. These trails provide breathtaking views of the sign and the surrounding Los Angeles area.

Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory is another excellent spot to view the Hollywood Sign. Located in Griffith Park, the observatory offers panoramic views of Los Angeles, including a clear sightline to the sign. It’s a great spot for photography and offers educational exhibits about astronomy and space.

Hollywood & Highland

For those who prefer a more urban experience, the Hollywood & Highland shopping and entertainment complex provides a great view of the Hollywood Sign. The complex is located in the heart of Hollywood, near the famous TCL Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Recommended Tours

While it is possible to see the Hollywood Sign on your own, taking a guided tour can enhance the experience by providing historical context and insider knowledge, as well as covering all of the other highlights and tourist attractions throughout Hollywood and Beverly HIlls. We highly recommend taking our 2-hour tour for a comprehensive tours that include not only a visit to the Hollywood Sign but also other iconic locations in Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

Tour Highlights:

  • Hollywood Walk of Fame: Walk along the star-studded sidewalks and see the stars dedicated to your favorite celebrities.

  • Beverly Hills: Explore the luxurious neighborhood of Beverly Hills, home to many of Hollywood’s biggest stars. The tour includes a drive down Rodeo Drive, famous for its high-end shopping.

  • Hollywood Sign Viewing: Get up close to the Hollywood Sign and learn about its fascinating history.

  • Sunset Strip: Drive down the Sunset Strip, known for its vibrant nightlife and historic music venues.

The tours offered by Hollywood LA Tours are guided by knowledgeable and friendly tour guides who provide interesting anecdotes and historical facts, making the experience both entertaining and educational.


The Hollywood Sign stands as a testament to the history and allure of the entertainment industry. From its humble beginnings as a real estate advertisement to its status as a global icon, the sign encapsulates the dreams and aspirations of countless individuals who have been drawn to Hollywood. Whether viewed from a hiking trail, an observatory, or a guided tour, the Hollywood Sign is a must-see for anyone visiting Los Angeles. To make the most of your visit, consider booking a tour with Hollywood LA Tours for an unforgettable experience.