Hollywood sign
Photo by John Schreiber.

The nonprofit responsible for maintaining the Hollywood Sign announced Thursday it completed the first stage of restoration work in preparation of the sign’s 100th anniversary in 2023.

The Hollywood Sign Trust is working to restore the sign to its “pristine condition,” achieved in its rebuild in 1978. The first phase, which began on Oct. 15 and was completed in mid-November, included clearing eroded soil accumulation and removing construction debris, bushes and other material within five feet of the sign’s base.

“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,” said Trustee Brian Lane. The sign’s location on a steep hillside means soil erodes and shifts after rain.

Soil was cleared using pick axes and shovels, and up to 30 inches of soil was removed from some of the sign’s letters. Crews uncovered in the foundation the names and handprints of some of the workers on the 1978 rebuild’s crew. The remnants of a “lean-to system” that was used to hold up the original 1923 Hollywoodland sign was also uncovered.

The Hollywood Sign Trust began planning the cleanup project after it conducted the first structural survey of the sign since 1978, when it was rebuilt.

The trust funded the cleanup project and collaborated with the Department of Recreation and Parks.

“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,” said Hollywood Sign Trust Chair Jeff Zarrinnam.

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