The Griffith Observatory Offers Magnificent Views of Los Angeles Since 1935

The Griffith Observatory Offers Magnificent Views of Los Angeles Since 1935

The Griffith Observatory Offers Magnificent Views of Los Angeles Since 1935​. The observatory is a popular tourist attraction with a view of the Hollywood Sign that is nearby and offers an array of space and science-related displays. This piece of land, 3,015 acres (12.20 km2) of land surrounding the observatory, was donated to the City of Los Angeles by Griffith J. Griffith, a Welsh-born American industrialist and philanthropist, on December 16, 1896.  Griffith died on July 6, 1919. 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 by the public, as opposed to the prevailing idea that observatories should be located on remote mountaintops and restricted to scientists.

Construction began on June 20, 1933. The observatory and accompanying exhibits were opened to the public on May 14, 1935, as the country’s only third planetarium. In its first five days of operation the observatory logged more than 13,000 visitors. 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.

The observatory was closed in 2002 for renovation. It reopened to the public on November 3, 2006. The $93 million renovation, paid largely by a public bond issue, restored the building, as well as replaced the aging planetarium dome. The building was expanded underground, with completely new exhibits, a café, gift shop, and the new Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater. Leonard Nimoy, the famed actor, most known for his portrayal of Mr. Spoke on the show and subsequent Star Trek movies donated $1 Million to Griffith Observatory Renovation in 2001.

There are various exhibits to see at the Griffith Observatory as well as permanent displays of interests including Tesla Coil, which is an electrical resonant transformer circuit designed by inventor Nikola Tesla in 1891 as well as the The Astronomers Monument which is a large outdoor concrete sculpture on the front lawn of the Observatory that pays respect to six of the greatest astronomers of all time: Hipparchus, Nicholas Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton, and William Herschel.

The grounds offer the beautiful Griffith Park with many trails leading into the Hollywood Hills. There are plenty of photo opportunities and scenery at and around the Observatory, with views of the Pacific Ocean, the Hollywood Sign, as well as Downtown Los Angeles. There have been many movies and TV shows that were filmed on location, including Dragnet, Back to the Future II, The Rocketeer, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Quantum Leap, MacGyver, and The Amazing Race, to name a few.