March 03, 2008

Hollywood Sign for Sale

It's been big news here in southern California for the past few weeks. Apparently, much of the mountain on which the Hollywood Sign sits is privately-owned, and the landowner is eager to sell it to developers. The Hollywood Sign itself isn't in jeopardy, but all of Mt. Cahuenga, just to the left of it, is.

Many are calling for the preservation of the mountain. After all, who wants to look at the famous Hollywood Sign, and see a cluster of multi-million dollar homes surrounding it? The Hollywood Sign symbolizes hopes and dreams for many, the idea (however true or not true) that anyone can come to Hollywood and have a chance at "making it." To look at the Hollywood Sign, and see that the town really belongs to the super-rich who look down on it from their lofty perch, would be a symbolic end to that dream.

Having taken several hikes up Mt. Cahuenga recently, I certainly do not want it developed. I hope the city of Los Angeles can raise the money to purchase it and annex it to Griffith Park. The landowner says that the peak is easily develop-able. Having been up there, I don't see how it can be developed without seriously altering the mountain itself.

On the other hand, with giant 30-foot letters that were originally erected as an advertisement for a housing development, and with a road leading up to several tall towers, the mountain has already had its look dramtically altered. Like Mt. Rushmore, we have destroyed what was once a place of natural beauty and, perhaps, sacred significance, and have replaced it with a monument to ourselves. Towering over Los Angeles and Hollywood to the south and Burbank to the north, perhaps this is appropriate. On the other hand, I wonder what the symbolic effect would be if the tower and the sign were removed, and the entire mountain returned to its natural state.

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