The Hollywood Sign Turns 90: Icon Or Neighborhood Nemesis?
When I originally came to Hollywood, one of the very first things I did was head to the hills to see The Hollywood Sign. This is a tradition that has gone on since that captivating icon first appeared over Tinseltown in 1923. With it’s enduring popularity, has this important part of Hollywood history now become a nemesis for locals who live in the area?
The Hollywood Sign was originally constructed as part of a real estate sales promotion to sell land in the Hollywood Hills. The sign read “Hollywoodland” until the late 1940’s when the land was sold, and The Los Angeles Parks Department took over it’s maintenance. The “Land” part of the sign was then removed.
Tourists from all over the world want to have their picture taken under the historic sign to prove they were here. It’s a much different vibe for residents who live in the area. Many are now fed up with the estimated 6,000 cars and tour buses, plus an estimated 4,000 hikers a day who invade their neighborhood.
Local resident Tony Fisch told CBS News that the growing number of visitors has created a “goat rodeo.” Narrow winding streets are clogged with tourists, buses, and cars that could jeopardize the safety of everyone in the area, should there be a fire, or other emergency situation. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when a tour bus actually ran over the taxpayer supported street sign that says “no access to Hollywood Sign.”
City Councilman Tom Labonge who represents the area but also supports tourism says modern technology, specifically GPS systems, has made the area more accessible to tourists. “When you live near a public park, you have to expect one thing……the public.”
For certain, the romantic interest that visitors from all over the world have in The Hollywood Sign will likely not change in the near future. This is one Hollywood ending that has yet to be written.