If I were to ask you, “What is the most famous sign in America?” You would probably answer, “The Hollywood Sign”. Or, you might say, “The ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ Sign”. Both of these signs are famous, but just how much do you know about them?
The Welcome to Las Vegas Sign
1) The sign might say, “Las Vegas,” but it isn’t actually inside the city limits. It is in the unincorporated town of Paradise, as is much of the famed Las Vegas Strip.
2) At ‘only’ 25 feet tall, the sign is smaller than most Vegas signs.
3) The sign was installed in 1959, 13 years after Bugsy Siegel opened The Flamingo.
4) The sign was commissioned by a salesman, Ted Rogich, who noted that there were tons of signs advertising casinos, but nothing advertised the city itself
5) The sign is designed in the Googie architecture style which was popular during the 40’s and 50’s. Remember The Jetsons? Their combination of futurism, the atomic age, and space travel was a great example of Googie.
6) The designer of the sign was a woman; a commercial artist named Betty Willis.
7) The sign was a bargain at only $4000. Yes, a bargain. Compare that to the $500,000 spent by the Stardust Hotel & Casino in 1967 for their sign!
8) The sign is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was nominated and approved in 2009.
9) You used to be able to buy a piece of the sign. When the lights on the sign were replaced, they were sold as commemorative souvenirs and the proceeds donated to charity.
10) The sign is going green; it is now solar!
The Hollywood Sign
1) The Hollywood Sign is almost 100 years old. It was originally constructed in 1923 at the beginning of the glamorous, decadent Golden Age of Hollywood
2) The Hollywood sign wasn’t even created with the movies in mind; it was created to advertise real estate! Developers S. H. Woodruff and Tracy E. Shoults began developing a new neighborhood called “Hollywoodland.” The sign was meant to act as a huge billboard to draw new home buyers to the hillside.
3) The first sign didn’t say “Hollywood.” To advertise the Hollywoodland development, the sign was composed of 13 letters that spelled out the development’s name: “HOLLYWOODLAND.” The last four letters of the sign wouldn’t be dropped until 1949.
4) The original Hollywood Sign was bigger than the current sign. The original letters were constructed of large sections of sheet metal and stood as high as 50 feet tall. They were held up with a complicated framing system that included wooden scaffold, pipes, wires, and poles.
5) The sign was a very expensive billboard. At $21,000, is was the equivalent of close to $400,000 in 2018. Just to advertise one neighborhood!
6) An Englishman, Thomas Fisk Goff, designed the Hollywood sign. Goff was born in London in 1890 and later opened the Crescent Sign Company.
7) The original sign was meant to be temporary. It was only meant to last for 18 months while lots were sold.
8) The Hollywood sign is an official landmark. By 1973, the sign had deteriorated and was broken-down and rusty. The city slapped another coat of paint on it and also declared it “L.A. Cultural and Historical Monument #111.”
9) The Hollywood sign has almost as much security as Fort Knox. In order to keep people away from the sign and keep the sign from being vandalized, a specially-designed security system was developed. The Department of Homeland Security even got involved! That’s how serious L.A. is about protecting its iconic sign. The security involves razor wire, infrared technology, 24 hour monitoring, motion sensors, alarms, and helicopter patrols.