LOS ANGELES, CA.-
A garish advertisement for a real estate development went up in the Hollywood Hills in late 1923: an immense sign that read HOLLYWOODLAND.
The billboard was supposed to be there for only 18 months, but that, of course, didnt turn out to be the case. In the century since it was erected, the Hollywood sign has become one of Californias most enduring tourist attractions, as synonymous with Los Angeles as the Golden Gate Bridge is with San Francisco.
The sign lost the LAND part in 1949 after the city took ownership. Over the years, various stunts have altered its appearance for a time, including a few adjustments to make it spell HOLLYWeeD in 1976 when California relaxed its marijuana laws. The signs instantly recognizable letters seem to show up as a backdrop in every television show and movie about LA, and have been destroyed in more disaster flicks than one can count.
Along with the Hollywood sign, several other Los Angeles institutions are turning 100 this year, including the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the Biltmore hotel downtown.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times