Griffith Park and Griffith Observatory
Griffith Park, in the eastern part of the Santa Monica Mountains, and covering an area of 4,210 acres, is the largest city park in Los Angeles. It’s home to the Los Angeles Zoo, the Griffith Observatory, a planetarium, and a Greek theater. It’s also home to golf courses, tennis courts, hiking trails, and a riding center created for the 1984 Olympic Games. And walking trails and scenic drives through the mountains offer views over the city and beyond. The Griffith Observatory is one of the city’s most interesting experience-based attractions, and it’s all free to the public. On the grounds are exhibits and telescopes. The main highlight is a look through the Zeiss telescope, used for viewing the moon and planets. You can use the telescopes free each evening the facility is open. Also on-site are solar telescopes used for viewing the sun.
The park and observatory are named for Griffith J. Griffith, who donated the greater part of the parkland to the city in 1896 and willed funds to the city for the creation of the observatory. Griffith Observatory is an observatory in Los Angeles, California on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park. It commands a view of the Los Angeles Basin including Downtown Los Angeles to the southeast, Hollywood to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. The observatory is a popular tourist attraction with a close view of the Hollywood Sign and an extensive array of space and science-related displays. It is named after its benefactor, Griffith J. Griffith. Admission has been free since the observatory’s opening in 1935, in accordance with the benefactor’s will. Over 7 million people have been able to view through the 12-inch (30.5 cm) Zeiss refractor since the observatory’s 1935 opening; this is the most people to have viewed through any telescope. On December 16, 1896, 3,015 acres (12.20 km2) of land surrounding the observatory was donated to the City of Los Angeles by Griffith J. Griffith. In his will Griffith donated funds to build an observatory, exhibit hall, and planetarium on the donated land. Griffith’s objective was to make astronomy accessible to the public, as opposed to the prevailing idea that observatories should be located on remote mountaintops and restricted to scientists.
Griffith drafted detailed specifications for the observatory. In drafting the plans, he consulted with Walter Sydney Adams, the future director of Mount Wilson Observatory, and George Ellery Hale, who founded (with Andrew Carnegie) the first astrophysical telescope in Los Angeles. As a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project, construction began on June 20, 1933, using a design developed by architects John C. Austin and Frederic Morse Ashley (1870-1960), based on preliminary sketches by Russell W. Porter. The observatory and accompanying exhibits were opened to the public on May 14, 1935, as the country’s third planetarium. In its first five days of operation the observatory logged more than 13,000 visitors. Dinsmore Alter was the museum’s director during its first years. The building combines Greek and Beaux-Arts influences, and the exterior is embellished with the Greek key pattern. During World War II, the planetarium was used to train pilots in celestial navigation. The planetarium was again used for this purpose in the 1960s to train Apollo program astronauts for the first lunar missions.