Hollywood sign

With the rise of Instagram, the area around Los Angeles’s iconic Hollywood sign has become inundated with tourists looking to capture the perfect selfie. The increased traffic to the residential areas below the sign have caused a huge headache for people who live there, and now Warner Bros. is swooping in with a suggestion for how to lighten the load: they’re offering to build a sky tram from their Burbank-based studio lot that travels over a mile up and leads to a visitor’s center near the sign.

According to The Los Angeles Times, the aerial tramway to the Hollywood sign would cost Warner Bros. an estimated $100 million. Perhaps AT&T, who just bought WB’s parent company Time Warner for $85 billion, is looking to offset some of the cost of that high bill; the proposal says the studio would share ticketing revenue with the city. Warner Bros. is calling the proposed tram the “Hollywood Skyway,” and the L.A. Times has a quick breakdown of what it might be like to take a six-minute ride more than a mile up the back of the mountain:

The proposed aerial lift would start at Warner Bros.’ parking structure at 6510 Forest Lawn Drive, adjacent to the studio lot, where the company does audience staging for talk shows and sitcoms. The visitors center near the sign would educate visitors on the history of the sign and the environmental significance of Griffith Park.

The area would lead to the back of the sign, where visitors can look down on it from above. That’s similar to the angle tourists can visit now:

Cloudy morning hike up above the #hollywoodsign #latergram

A post shared by Ben Pearson (@benpears) on

Visitors can’t access the actual letters of the sign – helicopters patrol the area, and officials issue strict fines for trespassing if people get too close. The Hollywood sign originally said “Hollywoodland”, and was constructed in 1923 as an advertisement for housing in the Hollywoodland neighborhood immediately below it. The “land” portion was destroyed in 1938 during the production of a documentary called The Rocketeer:

The proposal states that the studio would be spending its own money on this tram, which is good for taxpayers in the area. But “similar solutions in the past have been shot down over concerns that they would lead to the commercial exploitation of Griffith Park,” the massive park area where the sign is located. Some think that even with the new skyway tram, visitors would still flood those residential areas to get a clearer photo of the front of the sign.

It’s unclear how much Warner Bros. would charge for a ride on the tram. If the studio truly has the people of the area in mind, they’ll keep it separate from their lot and charge a fee solely for the ride up and back down. But if the greed wins out, I could envision a scenario in which this sky tram is exclusively available for those who purchase tickets to the Warner Bros. studio tour. I doubt they’d be able get approval from the city if that were the case, so hopefully someone will be looking out for the little guy in upcoming meetings about this project.

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