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Hollywood Sign gets much needed facelift

November 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
From miles away, the Hollywood Sign is a bright reminder of where we are.

"The Hollywood Sign is our iconic symbol," said Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge.

Up close, it's a symbol of just how tough Hollywood can be.

With its paint flaking and rust marring its letters, the non-profit Hollywood Sign Trust decided it was time to freshen their baby up.

"It's going to give it more life, it's going to protect it from rust and other challenges," said LaBonge. "It will give it a lot of years. It's getting a facelift."

That facelift began Oct. 2 and now, more than a month later, the painting crew says they're closing in on the last few letters.

The Hollywood Sign was built back in 1923. Originally, it read Hollywoodland. It was rebuilt back in 1978. Now, 10 guys, strapped into scaffolding, are trying to get nearly 35 years worth of paint off the corrugated metal letters.

"You gotta scrape, scrape, scrape 'til you get it out," said painting foreman Victor Galindo. "The first 15 feet, we probably have about 10 layers of paint on it. After that, no one could reach up there, so it's just the primer and the two coats of paint that they put before."

You'd think a project like this would be a piece of cake for professional painters but the Hollywood Sign poses quite a series of challenges. Not only are these letters 45 feet tall, but they're propped on the side of a fairly steep mountainside.

"You have to come downhill, uphill with buckets," said Galindo. "It gets heavy. By the middle of the day, you're running out of strength."

Once the metal's bare, painters apply Sherwin Williams primer and paint, about a hundred gallons per letter. That's good news for folks who look up at the icon almost every day.

"We live at the base of the sign in Los Feliz. It's always a treat for us to see it in the background," said resident Ben Steinbauer. "We get this sort of burst of civic pride every time we see it.

Work on the Hollywood Sign is expected to wrap up before Thanksgiving, just in time for the holidays.


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