Theme Week Los Angeles – Griffith Park

Friday, 10 February 2017 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Greater Los Angeles Area, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks
Reading Time:  7 minutes

Griffith Observatory © Matthew Field/cc-by-2.5

Griffith Observatory © Matthew Field/cc-by-2.5

Griffith Park is a large municipal park at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains, in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. The park covers 4,310 acres (1,740 ha) of land, making it one of the largest urban parks in North America. It is the second-largest city park in California, after Mission Trails Preserve in San Diego, and the 11th largest municipally owned park in the United States. It has also been referred to as the Central Park of Los Angeles but is much larger, more untamed, and rugged than its New York City counterpart. After successfully investing in mining, Colonel Griffith J. Griffith purchased Rancho Los Feliz (near the Los Angeles River) in 1882 and started an ostrich farm there. Although ostrich feathers were commonly used in making women’s hats in the late-19th century, Griffith’s purpose was primarily to lure residents of Los Angeles to his nearby property developments, which supposedly were haunted by the ghost of Antonio Feliz (a previous owner of the property). After the property rush peaked, Griffith donated 3,015 acres (1,220 ha) to the city of Los Angeles on December 16, 1896. Afterward Griffith was tried and convicted for shooting and severely wounding his wife in a 1903 incident. When released from prison, he attempted to fund the construction of an amphitheater, observatory, planetarium, and a girls’ camp and boys’ camp in the park. His reputation in the city was tainted by his crime, however, so the city refused his money.

In 1912, Griffith designated 100 acres (40 ha) of the park, at its northeast corner along the Los Angeles River, be used to “do something to further aviation”. The Griffith Park Aerodrome was the result. Aviation pioneers such as Glenn L. Martin and Silas Christoffersen used it, and the aerodrome passed to the National Guard Air Service. Air operations continued on a 2,000-foot (600 m)-long runway until 1939, when it was closed, partly due to danger from interference with the approaches to Grand Central Airport across the river in Glendale, and because the City Planning commission complained that a military airport violated the terms of Griffith’s deed. The National Guard squadron moved to Van Nuys, and the Aerodrome was demolished, though the rotating beacon and its tower remained for many years. From 1946 until the mid-1950s, Rodger Young Village occupied the area which had formerly been the Aerodrome. Today that site is occupied by the Los Angeles Zoo parking lot, the Autry Museum of the American West, soccer fields, and the interchange between the Golden State Freeway and the Ventura Freeway. Colonel Griffith set up a trust fund for the improvements he envisioned, and after his death in 1919 the city began to build what Griffith had wanted. The amphitheater, called the Greek Theatre, was completed in 1930, and Griffith Observatory was finished in 1935. Subsequent to Griffith’s original gift further donations of land, city purchases, and the reversion of land from private to public have expanded the Park to its present size. In December, 1944 the Sherman Company gifted 444 acres of Hollywoodland open space to Griffith Park. This large, passive, eco-sensitive property borders the Lake Hollywood reservoir (west), the former Hollywoodland sign (north), and Bronson Canyon (east) where it connects into the original Griffith donation. The Hollywoodland residential community is surrounded by this land. One hundred additional acres around Cahuenga Peak were purchased with funds from a broad spectrum of donors, in addition to $1.7 million from the city, and added to the park in July 2010 bringing the park’s total acreage to 4,310 acres (1,740 ha).

Hollywood Sign © Thomas Wolf - foto-tw.de/cc-by-sa-3.0-de Griffith Observatory © Matthew Field/cc-by-2.5 Griffith Park welcome sign at the northwest entrance © Coolcaesar/cc-by-sa-3.0 Griffith J Griffith statue © Minnaert/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Griffith Park welcome sign at the northwest entrance © Coolcaesar/cc-by-sa-3.0
Among the attractions of Griffith Park are Autry Museum of the American West, Bronson Canyon, Greek Theatre, Griffith Observatory, Miniature train excursions, Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, Griffith Park Zoo, Heritage Tree: a pine tree in memory of Beatle George Harrison was planted in 2004 near the observatory, Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum, Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens and Travel Town Museum. The park is open 5:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. All hiking trails and mountain roads close at sunset. Ample free parking is available on the south side off of Vermont Canyon Road inside the park; cars can be left parked at the parking lot next to the Greek Theater until 10:30 p.m., even though the park gates close to entering cars at sunset.

Much of the park comprises wild, rugged natural areas with hiking and equestrian trails, and this terrain separates the park into many areas or “pockets” of activities. Within the various areas are concessions, golf courses, picnic grounds, pony and train rides, and tennis courts. In 2014, two baseball fields were proposed on the east side of Griffith Park that would remove 44 trees and replace four acres (1.6 ha) of picnic area, the largest picnic area in the park that is often used for large family gatherings, cultural fairs and festivals, reunions, and other special occasions. The plan may be altered to spare a sycamore that has been designated by the city as a “heritage tree“, a living artifact of Los Angeles history. After its closure in 1966, the grounds of the Griffith Park Zoo were transformed into a recreation area. Some of the former animal enclosures were left in place, and picnic tables were installed.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on DiscoverLosAngeles.com – Griffith Park, TimeOut.com – Griffith Park, Griffith Observatory and Wikipedia Griffith Park (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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