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How the Hollywood Sign Stays in Such Excellent Shape

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Lucky Los Angeles magazine got to get up close to the Hollywood Sign for its next issue--Nancy Miller writes that on the way up in the car, her tour guide told her "Don't tell anyone how you got here." As we well know, the sign doesn't have an official viewing spot and it's definitely verboten to access it directly (even if you're Ke$ha): there’s a fence along the perimeter around the sign with security cameras?There is no paved path down to the sign. It’s accessible by clumsily walking along an unkempt, rocky bit of path and then—if you’re lucky enough to have a tour guide equipped with 100 feet of sturdy rope—you [rappel] down about 65-70 feet to reach the base of the sign below." We're now on our second Hollywood Sign; the first went up in 1923, fell into disrepair, and was finally replaced by something sturdier in 1978 (thanks to Hugh Hefner). And while action movies may regularly destroy it like it's a stack of toothpicks, it's actually pretty well taken care of:

-- Los Angeles owns the land the sign sits on (it bought the original version of the sign in 1949), the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce owns the sign, while the Hollywood Sign Trust covers maintenance.

-- It's pretty pristine for something that sits on a mountaintop year-round: "the sign itself is nearly flawless—free of graffiti, dents, and structural damage." The letters are made of corrugated metal, which helps protect from rain and winds.

-- The letters have only been painted thrice since 1978: once with oil-based paint when they were originally put up, once with Dutch Boy latex in 1995, and once with elastomeric coating in 2005. They'll be repainted again within the next year and a half.

-- The letters were put together on site, attached to steel girders "that extend 13 feet underground and are bolted to concrete." The whole thing weighs 225 tons.

-- In just the last five years, the Sign Trust "has spent several hundred thousand dollars on security," which includes cameras with night vision and infrared displays.
· Star Power [Los Angeles]
· Hollywood Sign Archives [Curbed LA]