May 09 2012

Finding the Hollywood Sign

One of the most iconic landmarks of Los Angeles is the Hollywood sign.  Watch a TV show set in LA or read a guidebook, and HOLLYWOOD is sure to be prominently featured.  But getting a good look at the sign for yourself is a bit more difficult.

Say, for instance, that you’re driving on the 101 freeway from Disneyland to Universal Studios.

If you look at just the right time, and you’re not the driver who has to pay attention to traffic or the kid who’s in the backseat on the driver’s side of the vehicle, you might just get a good look at it like this:

Hollywood sign from highway 101

Now, for some people, that would be good enough.  But for others who actually wanted more than a glimpse, or who want to prove that they can find a better vantage point, or maybe have their photo taken in front of the real thing (as opposed to the fake photo op background at Universal Studios) as proof that they were actually along on the family vacation, it is possible to get closer to the sign.

In my somewhat-extensive Hollywood-sign research before we left home, I had read that you could see the Hollywood sign from Griffith Park.  We, however, did not go to Griffith Park.

I also talked to someone from my hometown whose family had attempted to get up-close and personal with the Hollywood sign and had become hopelessly intertwined in the Hollywood hills, and never did successfully complete their quest to see the sign.  I wanted to do better than that.

So I searched Google Maps.  (Do you use Google Maps for as many things as I do?)  And I looked for that sign and found it right here.

Do you see it?  It’s that faint white line just below Mt. Lee Drive on the map.  Yup, that’s the Hollywood sign from way up in space.

Then, I looked at the terrain.  Obviously, any vantage point for the sign was going to be south of this location.

View Larger Map

And yes, those are some twisting, winding roads.

Next, I used street view to see exactly where the sign was visible from a public roadway.

This view? Not exactly the right spot.

View Larger Map

Then I got smart and turned on the photos layer. And voila! I could instantly see all of the spots where people had taken photos of the Hollywood sign with their fancy GPS-enabled cameras or cell phones.

Now, I realize it’s hard to see, but all of those pictures with blue sky and brown-green bottoms and a little bit of white in the middle?  They’re pictures of the Hollywood sign.

Next, we had the issue of finding a place to park and safely take a picture without being chased off someone’s private property or being run down by people who actually knew how to quickly and accurately navigate these streets.

What’s that?  A public park?  With what looks to be cars parked safely and legally on both sides of the street?  I think that’s our spot.

View Larger Map

And so it was that upon leaving Universal Studios, we made our way to see the Hollywood sign. Cahuenga Blvd W to Barham Blvd to Lake Hollywood Dr to Tahoe Dr to Canyon Lake Dr to Lake Hollywood Park doesn’t seem too tricky, but I’d advise having a map or smartphone navigation app to get you there. (It was comforting to see one small “Hollywood Sign” arrow along the way, but it alone wasn’t enough to get us there without getting lost.)

View Larger Map

At the southern tip of the park, we found a place to park along the street, and spotted the sign.

To the naked eye it looked like this:

Hollywood Sign

Zoomed in it looked like this:

Hollywood Sign Zoom

And proof that I was in California looked like this:

Hollywood Sign L

If you know of a better/faster/easier place to see the Hollywood sign, please share in the comments.

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3 comments so far

3 Comments to “Finding the Hollywood Sign”

  1. Julia in West Des Moines on 10 May 2012 at 9:51 am


  2. Mary @ The World Is A Book on 19 May 2012 at 12:41 am

    I like your resourcefulness to find a better view of the Hollywood sign. I lived in LA for 8 years and my husband grew up around that area. We used to just take visitors to Griffith Park Observatory to see the sign a bit closer. We’ll need to direct visitors to your spot. Nice proof shot!

  3. Marissa on 21 Oct 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Griffith observatory! it is up on a hill and many spots for picture oppurtunities with the “Hollywood” sign in the background. You also get an AMAZING view of the LA skyline :)

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