Los Angeles is a city built on hustle and ingenuity and so it loves a sign: a giant lettered sign on top of a hill, a sign shaped like a donut, a spinning cartoon sign that predicts the future, or just plain old neon or incandescent lights. The Hollywood(land) Sign went up on Mt. Lee in 1923; the possible first neon sign in the US flickered to life Downtown around the same time, and the city's been obsessed ever since. Here we've rounded up the 18 most recognizable signs in Los Angeles, many of which—thanks to the film industry—are also international icons. Enjoy!Read More
Mapping 18 of the Landmark Signs That Define Los Angeles
Possibly the most famous sign in the entire world, the Hollywoodland Sign was first erected on Mt. Lee in 1923 to advertise the housing development of the same name in the neighborhood below. The "land" was removed in 1949.
Randy's was designed by Henry J. Goodwin for the Big Donut Drive-In chain in the early '50s; it became Randy's in the 1970s. Image via Steele
Santa Monica Pier
The "Santa Monica Yacht Harbor" sign was installed at the entryway to the pier in 1941 and has since become filmic shorthand for fun times chillin' at the beach. Image via John Kim
It's hard to believe since they've become so recognizable, but the 32-foot-tall "LAX" letters and accompanying lighted pylons were only installed in 2000. Image via Bobby Gibbons
These signs are scattered at a handful of entryways to Beverly Hills and have been made international symbols of snootiness by Beverly Hills Cop, 90210, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, and of course Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Image via City of Beverly Hills
The 32-foot neon clown outside this NoHo liquor store has hovered over crime scenes in Clueless and Snoop's "Murder Was the Case." Image via eyetwist
Felix Chevrolet Cadillac
This Chevrolet dealership adopted Felix as its namesake when it opened in the early '20s; the neon sign went up in the late 1950s and was switched out for LEDs a few years ago. Image via joey zanotti
5900 Wilshire has been known as "the Variety building" since the trade slapped its red logo on top back in the late aughts. Douchey nightclub/hotel brand sbe (of the SLS, Hyde, etc.) bought the naming rights and its sign is being installed this very week.
Happy Foot/Sad Foot
This spinning sign at a foot clinic in Silver Lake has become an eastishside talisman, providing guidance to Beck and inspiring novelists David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Lethem. The surrounding neighborhood has now been nicknamed HaFo SaFo. Image via Atwater Village Newbie and AVN
The lighted sign strung across Windward a block from the Venice Boardwalk went up in 2007, but it's a replica of a sign that hung in Venice when the neighborhood was founded in 1905. Image via Bobby Gibbons
The Bible Institute of Los Angeles first put up two "Jesus Saves" neon signs at Sixth and Hope in the 1930s; they were moved to the United Artists Theatre building in 1989 when University Cathedral moved in. The building is now home to the Ace Hotel, which has resurrected one of the signs. Image via Sterling Davis
Animation firm Screen Novelties inherited this amazing neon giraffe sign when they moved into the building a few years back. They restored it with a new x-ray neck. Image via moye
The stately old El Royale, built in the 1920s, is known for its celebrity tenants and its bright green cursive sign, visible for miles on top of its 12 stories. Image via El Royale
Jensen's Recreation Center
Echo Park's Jensen Recreation Center opened in 1924 with apartments, a bowling alley, pool hall, Egyptian-themed rec hall, and shops. Its amazing green, red, and white incandescent sign features a bowler in action who was out of commission for decades before being restored in 1997 and again in 2005. via Michael Locke
When the Church of Scientology took over the old Cedars of Lebanon hospital building in Hollywood in 2009, they put up a 16-foot-tall LED sign announcing it. A rep for the signmaker told Curbed "It's probably the biggest sign we have done." Image via millerm217
The Patrón sign, which flashes between a bottle and rock star/movie star boxes, went up on top of the Lofts at Hollywood and Vine in 2007, in a spot that read (unlit) "Bank of Hollywood Building" back in the 1920s.
The Broadway Hollywood
A companion to the Patrón sign above Hollywood and Vine, The Broadway Hollywood neon sign was first lit in 1931 on what was then home to the Broadway department store and is now home to fancy lofts. It's best seen emerging from fog on a noiry night. Image via Mark Luethi
Without a doubt the worst sign in Los Angeles sits snugly atop the 1929 E. Clem Wilson Building on Wilshire Boulevard. We're not sure when it first got its terrible hat, but it was there (reading "Mutual of Omaha") as far back as the 1970s.