But with developers ready to build luxury homes or a hotel on the land, the giant white sign was facing disappearance.
The developers offered to sell the 138 acres to the city for $12.5 million, but a conservation group, Trust for Public Land, still needed roughly $1 million to save the landmark.
The hero: Mr. Hollywood, himself. Playboy tycoon Hugh Hefner donated the final $900,000 needed to keep the sign safe. The Tiffany & Co. Foundation and Aileen Getty made a final push, as well, and contributed $500,000.
According to the Los Angeles Times, L.A. Councilman Tom LaBonge, who was very active in the fundraising campaign, said saving the peak was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“The Cahuenga Peak is very majestic. This is one mountain you actually could see which is not obscured by houses,” he told the newspaper. “If we lost this opportunity, we wouldn’t experience what is truly nature in the heart of the city.”
The Times article reported that: “when they announced plans to subdivide the peak into five luxury home sites and try to sell them off for $40 million, city officials were as shocked as residents.”
Other donations were made by Hollywood influences, including Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Norman Lear and studios NBC Universal, Sony and Warner Bros.
According to the Times article, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was pleased.
“I am proud we were able to come together and create a public-private partnership to protect this historic symbol that will continue to welcome dreamers, artists and Austrian bodybuilders for generations to come,” he said.
The Trust for Public Land campaign wrote on its Web site that they had support from all over the world, with donors from as far away as Norway and Japan.
James Spencer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org