Famous HOLLYWOOD sign in California

How big is the HOLLYWOOD sign?

Tinseltown’s biggest star — literally — is the Hollywood sign, one of the world’s most evocative symbols, and a universal metaphor for ambition and success, wealth and glamour.

The sign, built in 1923, was initially an outdoor ad campaign for a housing development called “Hollywoodland,” and was only supposed to be on the hillside for a year and a half.

The Hollywoodland sign in the 1920s

In March 1924, the nearby Bakersfield Morning Echo newspaper wrote of “the great ‘Hollywoodland’ skysign on the Hollywood Hills to the north of that suburb.”

Noting its prominence — particularly when illuminated — the paper called it “a familiar landmark to all Los Angeles, and, in fact, to a very much greater area than the city itself.”

SEE MORE: Old Hollywood: The movie town, as seen from the sky during the 1920s

But it wasn’t just Southern Californians who were impressed. The huge sign made news headlines across the country, such as this mention from the Tyrone Daily Herald (Tyrone, Pennsylvania) in October 1924:

“Mountains in the neighborhood of Hollywood, Cal., have been ‘adorned’ with the largest electrical sign ever constructed. This consists of the word HOLLYWOODLAND in letters 45 feet high, the whole being about a quarter of a mile in length. Four thousand lamps [lightbulbs] are used.”

Hollywood Museum photo by Aguina/Dreamstime.com
The late 1940s onward

Despite the early excitement, the Great Depression and World War II took their toll, and the sign fell into disrepair.

In 1949, after years of neglect, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce embarked on a major makeover project for the sign, removing the letters that spelled “LAND” and repairing the rest.

The sign’s stats, letter by letter

How big is the HOLLYWOOD sign? It’s one of the movie industry’s biggest stars — literally — as well as one of the world’s most well-known landmarks. Get its measurements here and find out how high those letters are!

  • H: 45 feet high by 33 feet and 6 inches wide
  • O: 45 feet high by 33 feet wide
  • L: 45 feet high by 31 feet wide
  • L: 45 feet high by 31 feet wide
  • Y: 45 feet high by 35 feet wide
  • W: 45 feet high by 39 feet and 9 inches wide
  • O: 45 feet high by 33 feet wide
  • O: 45 feet high by 33 feet wide
  • D: 45 feet high by 33 feet wide

By the late 1970s, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce determined that the sign required a complete rebuilding, an effort that cost a quarter of a million dollars.

Famous HOLLYWOOD sign from behind and city of Los Angeles beyond
Photo by oneinchpunchphotos/Envato

In 1978, Hugh Hefner sponsored a gala at the Playboy Mansion, where each of the sign’s nine letters was ceremonially “auctioned” off for $27,700 to cover the costs of the refurbishment.

After using approximately 194 tons of concrete, enamel and steel, the sign was reborn — polished and poised for a new generation.

The sign has been painted twice since 1978, and was in need of a complete overhaul in time to celebrate its 90th birthday. Sherwin-Williams Emerald Exterior Paint was selected for the job.

And that’s how for nearly a century now, those four-story tall letters have been able to look out from their hillside post, watching as a handful of companies churning out silent movies transformed into one of the most creative, influential and profitable industries in the world.

The Hollywood Sign Trust is a 501(c)3 non-profit trust responsible for repairing, maintaining, refurbishing and providing capital improvements to the Hollywood Sign for the benefit of the public at large. More information about the Sign’s history and the Trust can be found hollywoodsign.org.

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