Behind the Shot
At 1,708 feet tall, Mount Lee, a rocky, chaparral-covered peak, stands high in the Hollywood Hills, which make up the eastern edge of the Santa Monica Mountains. In the early 1900s, the peak overlooked a basin of sparsely populated orange and avocado groves. Few paved streets connected the small towns below, and real estate developers planned new housing developments. One such developer was H.J. Whitley, who had previously used a large sign to promote his Whitley Heights neighborhood. Now Whitley decided to up the ante for his new development—Hollywoodland.
In 1923 he erected a gigantic metal sign on the south-facing side of Mount Lee. that spelled out“Hollywoodland.” Each individual letter was 50 feet tall. More than 4,000 lightbulbs were attached to the letters, and the sign blinked HOLLY, then WOOD, then LAND, then HOLLYWOODLAND—all night, every night, for a year and a half.
Originally intended to last only that long, it became such a tourist attraction that it was left in place. The “Land” portion of the sign was removed in 1949, along with the lightbulbs.
By 1978, though, the sign had badly deteriorated. Later that year, a newly restored Hollywood sign was unveiled, each letter about 5 feet shorter, with the entire sign more than 450 feet long.
Kyle visited the area near the sign in 2017. “I loved how the Hollywood sign appeared between the trees. This natural framing intrigued me. Golden hour in L.A. had already become my favorite time of day to work with. The sunset colors began showing off as I positioned myself for the shot. I was excited to find a new angle on the iconic sign that I hadn’t seen before!”