Hollywood Sign Trust Digs Into Preparations for 100th Anniversary
Initial restoration of world-famous monument focuses on repairing soil erosion, clearing debris and brush removal
November 18, 2021–Los Angeles-The Hollywood Sign Trust, the 501(c)3 nonprofit trust responsible for maintaining the Sign and educating the world about its historical and cultural importance, has completed the first stage of work to restore the Hollywood Sign to the pristine condition achieved during its 1978 rebuild. The project, initiated in conjunction with the Trust’s extensive preparations for the Sign’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2023, included clearing eroded soil accumulation and removing construction debris and low scrub grasses and bushes within five feet of the Sign’s base.
Planning for the cleanup project was prompted after the Hollywood Sign Trust conducted the first structural survey of the Sign since it was rebuilt in 1978. The Trust subsequently issued an RFP to vendors familiar with park procedures and Evergreen Environment, Inc. was selected to perform the necessary work in September of 2021. The project began on October 15 and was completed in mid-November.
The Hollywood Sign "cleanup" sub-committee is led by Trust Chair Jeff Zarrinnam, along with Trustees Brian Lane, Matt Fritch and Stefanie Smith, who also serves as acting superintendent of City of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Operations. The project was funded by the Hollywood Sign Trust, working with the Department of Rec and Parks.
According to Trustee Brian Lane, the Hollywood Sign is located on a steep hillside and soils erode after rains and slight shifting of underlying soils. “The last time soils were cleared from the Sign base was prior to a major makeover and painting in 2012. Soil collects at the base of some letters more than others, which leads to soil buildup and rust.”
Lane noted that Evergreen workers used pick axes and shovels to carefully clear the base of the letters to their 1978 condition, which meant removing up to 30 inches of soil at some letters. The crew also uncovered interesting items during the cleanup, including the names and handprints of workers from the 1978 rebuild, inscribed in the concrete foundations, along with remnants of a “lean-to system” that propped up the original Hollywoodland sign, which was constructed in 1923.
According to the Trust’s history of the Hollywood Sign, from 1923 to 1948, the Sign read as “Hollywoodland.” In 1949, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce refurbished the Sign, rebuilt the fallen “H,” and removed the last four letters (LAND). In 1978, the Chamber raised the funds required and commissioned a complete rebuild of the Sign, incorporating new materials, a new structure and a new foundation in the same location. In a video documenting the rebuild of the Sign, Project Supervisor Raiden Peterson noted that the rebuild began on August 8, 1978 and was completed on October 30, 1978. “We built it (the Sign’s letters and footprint) exactly the same way it was before,” said Peterson. (See the mini-documentary here; Raiden Peterson’s comments about the specifications begin at 1:53 and 4:21 seconds.)
Hollywood Sign Trust Chair Jeff Zarrinnam said, “Members of the Trust donate their time to protect the Sign so millions of fans worldwide and can enjoy this icon of the entertainment industry for generations to come. We look forward to returning every two to three years for this type of clearance and announcing additional projects as we approach the Hollywood Sign’s 100th anniversary in 2023.
The Hollywood Sign was declared a Los Angeles Cultural Historical Monument No. 111 in 1973. The City of Los Angeles owns and controls access to the land the Hollywood Sign sits on in Griffith Park.
About the Hollywood Sign Trust The Hollywood Sign Trust is a 501(c)3 nonprofit trust created and shall be operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes and responsible for physically maintaining, repairing and securing the Hollywood Sign; providing capital improvements for the benefit of the public at large; and educating the world about the Sign’s historical and cultural importance. More information about the Sign's history and the Trust can be found at: www.hollywoodsign.org.