The Hollywood Sign was falling apart in the summer of 1972. You can see plenty of holes in the letters. The reason each letter looks like tinfoil is because the original surface of the letters was perforated with hundreds of little holes for lights – originally, the sign read “Hollywoodland,” and it was lit up at night. It was put on the hill to advertise a new housing development, and the neighborhood still thinks of itself by that name. The Entertainment Establishment did not wake up to the commercial value of the sign until several years later.
Here’s what the sign looked like at the end of December, 2007. You’ll notice that the new letters are a lot sturdier, and that the vegetation has been cut back quite a bit. Back in 1972, you could hike up and walk around in between the letters. Now there are unmanned flying drones cruising the barbed-wire perimeter, and guys with shoot-to-kill orders watching this National Treasure night and day and making sure nobody gets too close. This is Hollywood. Look but don’t touch. If you want to mingle with your monuments, go to the Lincoln Memorial or the Empire State Building.
W.C. Fields said, “Hollywood is the gold cap on a tooth that should have been pulled a long time ago.” Of course, everybody knows that guy was a sentimental optimist.