Griffith Observatory (Los Angeles, California)

Griffith Observatory

Featured in more than 30 major motion pictures, the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California became an international symbol of the city after it was used in two scenes from  James Deans “Rebel Without a Cause” in 1955.  Construction on the Art Deco building on the south side of Mount Hollywood began in 1933 and it was officially opened to the public at no cost in 1935.

Griffith Jenkins Griffith, the Welsh industrialist for whom the observatory is named, donated the 3,015 acres that are known as Griffith Park to the City of Los Angeles.  He also bequeathed the money necessary to build the Griffith Observatory and the Greek Theatre.

In 2002 the observatory temporarily closed for a major renovation and expansion at a cost of more than $93 million.  During the renovation the planetarium dome was replaced and underground expansion with new exhibits was added as well a café and gift shop.

View of Los Angeles from the Griffith Observatory.

Griffith Observatory Facts

  • A bust of Dean has been placed at the west side of the grounds.
  • The will of of Griffith J. Griffith stipulated that entrance to the observatory be free to the public in perpetuity.
  • A wildfire in the  Hollywood Hills came within feet of the observatory in 2007.
  • The theater is called the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater.
  • On May 25, 2008, the Observatory offered visitors live coverage of the Phoenix landing on Mars.
  • Griffith J. Griffith for whom the observatory is named was once sentenced to two years in prison for the murder of his wife.

Visiting the Griffith Observatory

  • Planetarium shows at the observatory are offered eight times a day on weekdays (except Mondays when it is closed) and ten times a day on weekends.
  • While it’s free to visit the observatory, there is a small fee to enter the planetarium and there is sometimes a fee for parking in the small lot.
  • The views from the observatory include Downtown Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Basin, the Hollywood Sign, and the Pacific Ocean.
  • The observatory is a highly popular tourist attraction and can at times get quite busy.