Monday, February 22, 2010

Saving Hollywoodland....

Size: 138 acres

Location: Between the Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando Valley See map

Recreation Value: bordered by Griffith Park and frequented by hikers and other lovers of sweeping LA basin views.

Habitat Value: rare ecosystem, home to butterflies, the coast horned lizard, and the Plummer's mariposa lily.

Best-known human feature: The Hollywood Sign

That Cahuenga Peak has remained undeveloped to this day is a lucky result of Howard Hughes' difficulty with women. A remnant open space in a spreading sea of development, the peak had already become famous as a backdrop for the Hollywood Sign when the famed industrialist, aviator, and film producer bought it in 1940. Hughes planned to build a mansion for his girlfriend, famed film star Ginger Rogers, whom he intended to marry.

But the relationship failed before the house got built. The reason for the breakup was Hughes’s indiscreet infidelity. Rogers dumped Hughes as he lay in a hospital bed after a serious car crash. She returned all of his gifts of jewelry in a basket before hurling her emerald engagement ring at him.

Huges died in 1976, and the land remained in his estate for another 20 years. In all that time--sixty years total-- hikers drifted over from Griffith Park, butterflies bred in the chamise, and lizards scuttled beneath the chaparral. The city expanded to the edge of the peak, making it even more valuable as a rare close-to-home open space. And the Hollywood Sign and its undeveloped backdrop became a symbol of fame, fortune, and infinite opportunity--the Hollywood Dream.

In 2002, the Hughes estate put 138-acre Cahuenga Peak on the market, presenting a rare opportunity to protect a large, iconic open space in the heart of the nation's most densely settled region. The City of Los Angeles hoped to purchase the land as a natural extension of Griffith Park. But at the height of the real estate market, fundraising fell short, and a development group from Chicago scooped up the property and secured rights to build several estates along the ridgeline.

With the land subdivided, it was again listed for sale in 2008 for $22 million--and once again it seemed that there might be a chance to protect it. In April 2009, The Trust for Public Land secured a one-year option to purchase the property with the hopes of preserving it for generations to come. And because of the falling real estate market, this second chance comes at a very reasonable price of $12.5 million, a little more than half of what the land was listed for in 2008.

Visit back tomorrow for a fun post about the history of the sign and some amazing pics. Thank you!

For more information about the campaign and how to help, please visit 

This is the listing for the property, pretty incredible.

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  1. Great post and good you are bringing it to the forefront! I did not realize this, what a shame!

  2. I'm right there with you! Great post! Love the history too.

  3. Judith dear,
    I grew up seeing this Hollywood sign daily! L.A. was my stompin' grounds for 29 years!

    Great to see you regularly!!!

    Bisous, Anita

  4. Great post! I so enjoyed reading about the history of the famed land and had no idea that it once belonged to Howard Hughes. Every time I am in La I try to plan a hike to the sign....

  5. Okay, that by far is the most interesting thing i've read in a long time. It makes me want to see the Aviator now, which I didn't see, to learn more about Hugh! And I had no idea it was originally HollywoodLAND....I love old pictures, especially from that era. I can't wait till tomorrow. ☺

  6. This is such an interesting post! I had no idea of the history behind the iconic sign. I have hopes that it will be preserved for years to come.
    I really love that era ♥ the photos are wonderful!
    I look forward to your post tomorrow!!

  7. What a state! California is such a mecca of American history. Thanks for the great post and stopping by. I've missed you!


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