Griffith Observatory

Last week, on February 7th, 2020, at 1:00 P.M., I was able to visit the Griffith Observatory attraction in Los Angeles, California. I was able to view the many scientific and astronomical displays in the facility, and was especially mesmerized by the Planetarium show. When I arrived on site, as I climbed the great hill that stood between the parked car and the actual facility, and as it came into view, I wondered about the history of the Observatory. I later went through my class notes and furthermore researched about its history.

According to “A History of Griffith Observatory,” the land that the facility is situated upon was actually a part of a Rancho named “Rancho Los Felis.” After learning this, I was able to make the connection to what we learned in class, about how Los Angeles had contained large lots of land where “rancheros” (owners of the land) would keep cattle and grow certain crops – these lots of land where termed “ranchos.” The article then goes on to state that, eventually, this specific land that belonged to Rancho Los Felis was passed along by the Governor to Corporal Vicente Felis and stayed in the family until it was sold. Then, in 1882, a mining speculator named Griffith, who by this point had obtained a great amount of wealth, purchased the land from the Felis family (“A History of Griffith Observatory”).

In “A History of Griffith Observatory,” it is explained that Griffith had originally settled on the purchased land as his own home. However, after he had traveled the world and seen many different parks in various countries, he was inspired to create an American version of such “Great Park[s].” Indeed, his vision became reality, and he donated over 3,000 acres of the land to the City of Los Angeles, making a public park named after him (“A History of Griffith Observatory”). I was able to witness this vision first-hand, and it is incredible to know that this land was once part of a rancho, then was passed down generations of one certain family, only to be sold to a man who loved science and wished to share it with the world, who further gave his home and some money as a gift to the City to do so.

Anyone who would visit Griffith Observatory would know that it is filled with all sorts of fascinating scientific displays. From actual moon rocks, demonstrations of early electricity developments, information on the planets of the solar system, to a realistic projection of the night sky in the Planetarium show – Griffith Observatory is the place for every science lover. Griffith himself was intrigued by science; “A History of Griffith Observatory” explains how he specifically had an experience at Mount Wilson wherein he looked through the largest telescope in the world (at that time), and was inspired with such enthusiasm as to find a means to share the wonders of science with the public. This is when he gifted the City of Los Angeles with money to build the observatory on Mount Hollywood, on his land. After much deliberation, planning, and time (and unfortunately, Griffith’s death in 1919), Griffith Observatory was built and established on May 14, 1935 (“A History of Griffith Observatory”).

Me, at the Griffith Observatory.
A Demonstration of the “Tesla Coil” at Griffith Observatory.



– By Alara B.

One Comment

  1. ST

    Hello Alara,
    I appreciate that you share this historical site with us. I never thought of a place once as a part of rancho became something that would bring a community together, especially those who love science. One thing that stood out to me in your post is the realistic projection of the night sky in the planetarium. Can you expand on that more? I would love to hear more about it.

    Thank you for this post, and I hope to visit this historical site one day.
    – Sirey T.

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