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Griffith J. Griffith statue at the front of Griffith Park
|Location||Los Feliz, California, U.S.|
|Area||4,310 acres (1,740 ha)|
|Operated by||Los Angeles Department of Recreation & Parks|
|Status||Open all year|
|Designated:||January 27, 2009|
Griffith Park is a large municipal park at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. 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 eleventh 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 Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, soccer fields, and the interchange between the Golden State Freeway and the Ventura Freeway.
Film pioneer D.W. Griffith (no relation to Colonel Griffith) filmed the battle scenes for his epic Birth of a Nation in the park in 1915, as Lillian Gish detailed in her memoirs, The Movies, Mr. Griffith, and Me. Over the years, a number of films were shot in the park.
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, 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.
Hired as part of a welfare project, 3,780 men were in the park clearing brush on October 3, 1933, when a fire broke out in the Mineral Wells area. Many of the workers volunteered or were ordered to fight the fire. In all, 29 men were killed and 150 were injured. Professional firefighters arrived and limited the blaze to 47 acres (19 ha).
On May 8, 2007 a major wildfire burned more than 817 acres (331 ha), destroying the bird sanctuary, Dante's View, and Captain's Roost, and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people. The fire came right up to one of the largest playgrounds in Los Angeles, Shane's Inspiration, and the Los Angeles Zoo, and threatened the Griffith Observatory, but left these areas intact. Several local organizations, including SaveGriffithPark.org, have been working since then with local officials to restore the park in a way that would benefit all. It was the third fire of the year. The city announced a $50 million plan to stabilize the burned slopes. The trees along Canyon Drive were allowed to grow back naturally, having been re-seeded by bird droppings.
Griffith Park was the busiest destination in Los Angeles for on-location filming in 2011, with 346 production days, according to a FilmL.A. survey. Projects included the TV shows Criminal Minds and The Closer.
With its wide variety of scenes and close proximity to Hollywood and Burbank, many different production crews have found new ways and angles to film the same spots and make them look different. One would be hard pressed to find a spot in Griffith Park which has not been filmed or taped.
The Griffith Observatory, which sits atop the southern slope of Mount Hollywood, was featured prominently in the 1955 classic Rebel Without a Cause. A bronze bust of the film's star James Dean is on the grounds just outside the dome. Other movies filmed here include The Terminator (1984), Disney's The Rocketeer (1991), Stephen Sommer's 2004 film Van Helsing, The Majestic (2001), and Yes Man (2008). The area of the park around the Observatory also appears as a location in the role-playing video game Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, which is set in Los Angeles.
Griffith Park has many other locations familiar to moviegoers. It was used as a location in the first two Back to the Future movies. In the first movie (released in 1985) it was used for Marty McFly's starting point when accelerating to 88 mph (142 km/h) in the film's climax, and in the second movie (released in 1989) it was used for the "River Road Tunnel" scene when Marty was trying to get the almanac back from Biff Tannen. The same tunnel was used as the entrance to Toontown in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). The park was also featured in the Robert Altman movie Short Cuts (1993).
A sampling of television shows filmed here includes the Nickelodeon show Salute Your Shorts and an episode of Remington Steele in which Laura Holt is trying to evade the police. The park was also the location for Adam Lambert's music video for his single, "If I Had You". Griffith Park and Griffith Observatory are significant in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Future's End" (originally aired November 6, 1996). The crew are thrown into the past and Griffith Observatory discovers Voyager. The tunnel was also used in the 1960s spy television series Mission: Impossible.
In John Rechy's novels City of Night and The Sexual Outlaw, Griffith Park is the scene of gay pick-ups and public sex as well as numerous gay bashings and violence from the LAPD in the 60s and 70s. It is the scene of similar activities in several novels by James Ellroy.
Bronson Canyon, aka Bronson Caves, is a popular location for motion picture and television filming, especially of western and science fiction low-budget films, including Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). The site was also used as the location for the climactic scene in John Ford's classic 1956 western, The Searchers. The scene includes John Wayne cornering his niece, Debbie (Natalie Wood), in one of the caves with the apparent intent of killing her. He relents at the last moment, however and, in the film's most famous shot, picks her up in his arms and turns to carry her back home. Many fans of the film are startled by the revelation that this scene was actually filmed in urban Los Angeles, probably due to how well the shot is integrated into the rest of the picture's location scenery. The craggy site of an old quarry, a tunnel in this canyon was also used as the entrance to the Batcave in the opening sequence of the 1960s Batman television series, and in numerous other shows. The natural "cave" walls are preserved by the many layers of paint used to make them look like rock.
Park hours and parking
The park is open 5:00 am to 10:30 pm. 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 pm, even though the park gates are closed to entering cars at sunset.
Addition of Cahuenga Peak
100 additional acres around Cahuenga Peak were added to the park in July 2010, bringing the park's total acreage to 4,310 acres (1,740 ha); and putting it ahead of Eagle Creek Park, Indianapolis as the 10th largest municipally owned park in the U.S.
Friends of Griffith Park
Friends of Griffith Park is a 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization that promotes "the enlightened stewardship of Griffith Park so it can survive and thrive in the 21st century." Prompted by the 2005 Griffith Park Master Plan Draft, a citizens movement emerged to advocate rejection of the plan, cooperating originally under the name "Save Griffith Park". The organization, which succeeded in rejecting the 2005 plan, was incorporated in September 2010. The organization is active through a website, a quarterly newsletter, petition signings, and activism at Los Angeles City Council meetings.
Toyon Canyon Landfill, with San Fernando Valley to the north
- Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments in Hollywood, Los Feliz and Griffith Park
- Hollywood Cricket Club
- Griffith Park
- "The 150 Largest City Parks". The Trust for Public Land.
- Griffith Park
- "Death Summons Noble Woman", Los Angeles Sunday Times, November 13, 1904
- "The Fire of '33", Glendale News-Press, October 1–4, 1993. Accessed May 8, 2007.
- A Holocaust Strikes the Hollywood Hills, Otto Firgens, Los Angeles City Fire Department
- "City to repair fire damage in Griffith Park" Ashraf Khalil, Los Angeles Times May 11, 2007
- "Fire Forces Griffith Park Evacuations", KNBC.com, 11:27 pm PDT May 8, 2007
- "Top Film Locations for 2011". The Los Angeles Times. December 15, 2011.
- It's Official: Griffith Park Grows by More than 100 Acres with Addition of Cahuenga Peak. LAist (June 18, 2010). Retrieved on August 25, 2013.
- Friends of Griffith Park. Friends of Griffith Park. Retrieved on August 25, 2013.
- Steve Winter, Ghost cats, National Geographic, December 2013.
- Alexa Keefe, A Cougar Ready for His Closeup, http://proof.nationalgeographic.com/2013/11/14/a-cougar-ready-for-his-closeup, November 14, 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Griffith Park.|
- Los Angeles Department of Recreation & Parks: Griffith Park
- Griffith Park History
- Griffith Park and Silverlake Blog
- Museum of the American West
- Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Archive The Griffith Park Fire
- Griffith Park Aerodrome
- Griffith Observatory
- Photograph of the Griffith Park Fire of May 2007
- Updated crime report from Griffith Park
Similar large municipal parks elsewhere
- Central Park, New York City, New York, U.S.
- Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
- Da'an Forest Park (zh) (article in Chinese), Taipei, Taiwan (Republic of China)
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|Hollywood - Beachwood Canyon||Los Feliz||Atwater Village|