Griffith Observatory


Griffith Observatory's unique architecture and setting, compelling programmatic offerings, and cinematic exposure have made it one of the most famous and visited landmarks in southern California. Tens of millions have come to walk the inside of the building, view the live planetarium shows, or simply gaze out towards the coast and the heavens. This cultural and scientific icon owes its existence to the dream of one man, Griffith Jenkins Griffith, and to the dedicated scientists and public servants who worked to fulfill his vision of making astronomy and observation accessible to all. Many Griffith Observatory pictures are can be seen on this site. Griffith J. Griffith was born in Wales in 1850 and came to America as a teenager. He worked as a journalist and mining advisor before making his fortune in Mexican silver mines and, subsequently, southern California real estate. He moved to Los Angeles after purchasing land and spent the rest of his life there. Griffith was introduced to astronomy through the Astronomical Section of the Southern California Academy of Sciences. He was also impressed by his visits to the new research observatory established at Mount Wilson in 1904. He believed that an individual gained an enlightened perspective when looking at the skies. Griffith's experience on Mount Wilson focused his desire to make science more accessible to the public. On December 12, 1912, he offered the City of Los Angeles $100,000 for an observatory to be built on the top of Mount Hollywood to be fully owned and operated by the City of Los Angeles. Griffith's plan for the observatory would include an astronomical telescope open to free viewing, a Hall of Science designed to bring the public into contact with exhibits about the physical sciences, and a motion picture theater which would show educational films about science and other subjects. This last aspect of the plan would eventually evolve into the planetarium, a technology not invented until the 1920s.

The City Council accepted Griffith's gift and appointed him head of a three-person Trust committee to supervise the construction of the observatory and a greek theatre performing arts facility, which Griffith promised to the city the following year. Bogged down by further political debate, the project continued to be delayed. In 1916, with his health failing, Griffith realized that his vision of a public observatory would not be realized in his lifetime. He drafted a will containing bequests for the observatory and greek theatre, along with detailed specifications regarding the nature of the observatory, its location, and programmatic offerings. Griffith died on July 6, 1919. Groundbreaking for Griffith Observatory occurred on June 20, 1933, with the William Simpson Construction Company as the builder. While the building quickly took shape, Edward Kurth was tragically killed in a car accident in February 1934. The Griffith Trust brought in physicist Rudolph Langer to oversee the completion of the building, and Philip Fox, Director of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, whose advice had been sought in the earliest phases of planning, was now increasingly involved with designing exhibits for the Hall of Science. The dedication and formal opening of Griffith Observatory took place amid much fanfare on May 14, 1935. On that day, the Griffith Trust transferred ownership of the building to the City of Los Angeles; the City's Department of Recreation and Parks has operated the facility ever since. From the moment the Observatory was opened to the public, those who served as full-time and part-time staff worked daily to fulfill the original vision of the Griffith Observatory as an educational and inspirational resource for all of society. Since opening in 1935, more than seven million people have put an eye to Griffith Observatory's original 12-inch Zeiss refracting telescope. More people have looked though it than any other telescope in the world. Located in the roof-top dome on the building's east end, the Zeiss telescope is intended mainly for nighttime viewing by the general public, commonly targeting the Moon, planets, and brightest showpiece objects of our galaxy. A popular public destination when special celestial events occur, more people viewed Halley's Comet and comets Hale-Bopp and Hyakutake through the Observatory's Zeiss telescope than any other telescope on the planet. The Griffith Park Observatory has been the location site for many Hollywood movies, including "Rebel With Out A Cause", starring James Dean and Natalie Wood. For years, the obvservatory was flooded with searchlights aat night.  Today, the observatory is visited by several thousand people a year, including school children and those simply wishing to explore the skies through telescopes. All the Griffith Observatory photos are available for purchase. From the observatory, one can see the Hollywood Sign which is just above the Hollywoodland development.  Other similar photos are of the Masonic Temple.

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GRIFFITH PARK OBSERVATORY UNDER CONSTRUCTION
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Aerial photo of Griffith Park Observatory
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Aerial photo of Griffith Park Observatory
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Aerial of Griffith Park Observatory
Griffith ObservatoryGRIFFITH PARK OBSERVATORY UNDER CONSTRUCTION
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1933
Griffith ObservatoryAerial photo of Griffith Park Observatory
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1933
Griffith ObservatoryAerial photo of Griffith Park Observatory
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1933
Griffith ObservatoryAerial of Griffith Park Observatory
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1934
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Griffith Park Observatory
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Aerial photo of Griffith Park Observatory
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Aerial photo of Griffith Park Observatory
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Aerial photo of Griffith Park Observatory
Griffith ObservatoryGriffith Park Observatory
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1935
Griffith ObservatoryAerial photo of Griffith Park Observatory
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1935
Griffith ObservatoryAerial photo of Griffith Park Observatory
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1935
Griffith ObservatoryAerial photo of Griffith Park Observatory
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1935
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Griffith Park Observatory
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Griffith Park Observatory
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Griffith Park Observatory
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Griffith Park Observatory
Griffith ObservatoryGriffith Park Observatory
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1937
Griffith ObservatoryGriffith Park Observatory
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1942
Griffith ObservatoryGriffith Park Observatory
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1953
Griffith ObservatoryGriffith Park Observatory
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1964