“Back in 1923, some Los Angeles real estate developers erected a billboard in the hills above Hollywood to advertise a new neighborhood. They dubbed their development Hollywoodland, heralding their geographic conquest with forty-three-foot-tall letters. Held in place with telephone poles, the illuminated white sign was bold enough for people to read on Wilshire Boulevard.
What the sign did not say, but the real estate deeds made clear, was that Hollywoodland was restricted territory. Only Caucasians were allowed to buy the ersatz Tudor and Spanish Colonial houses, and buyers promised not to sell their homes to non-white customers for the next half century.
Abandoned and later reassembled in abbreviated form, the Hollywood sign is now one of the signal landmarks of Los Angeles. Few recall the legacy of racism. Fewer still remember the Indigenous tribes that lived on the land prior to white colonization. In the hills where the Hollywoodland sign was erected – and throughout the surrounding region now known as LA – the Tongva people maintained hunting grounds and villages. And the Cahuilla lived a hundred miles inland, in the region now called Palm Springs…”

[Read the full article]