The Griffith Observatory high above the City of Los Angeles provides a fabulous view of the city. The building and its setting will be recognized as the setting from movies and television. The Observatory was almost one of the cast in the 1955 film, “Rebel Without a Cause,” starring James Dean, Natalie Wood, and Sal Mineo, as the setting was such a memorable part of the film. Many other films and television shows have used the this landmark, such as films “Dragnet”, “Bowfinger”, and “Earth Girls are Easy”, and more television shows such than could be listed such as “Alias”, and “Mission: Impossible.” The building is used in comics, video games, and even as a model in Legoland.
Admission to the Observatory building and its exhibits is free, but tickets are required for the planetarium show, where children and adults will enjoy learning about the earth, the solar system and the universe. Over the years, the Observatory has been updated, restored and expanded to meet the needs of the community.
The popularity of the Observatory stems from both the building itself, and the incredible setting at the top of the hill in Griffith Park. The views of the city from this spot are fabulous. Many western movies had cowboys riding in the old west, which was actually Griffith Park.
Griffith Park is an enormous area right in the city, which includes a merry go round, Bird Sanctuary, Ferndell Nature Center, L.A. Zoo, Travel Town full of historic railway engines and cars, and facilities for most sports. There are equestrian trails and stables, with riders visible from the nearby freeway.
It is quite amazing to find such a huge expanse of parkland in the city. The land was given to the city as a “Christmas Present” by wealthy Welsh born Griffith J. Griffiths, who specified that the Greek Theater, for outdoor concerts, ballet, and entertainment, and the Observatory must be built on the land.
According to the park website, Griffith specified that the land he gave to the city “…must be made a place of recreation and rest for the masses, a resort for the rank and file, for the plain people…to make Los Angles a happier, cleaner and finer city.” Griffiths died in 1919, but the city completed the Greek Theater in 1930 and the observatory in 1935. He would no doubt be pleased to see the wonderful protected areas and recreational opportunities this amazing park provides for all the people of the Los Angeles area.
Sources: Personal experience updated by the park website.