In honor of the man who gave Los Angeles a park, an amphitheater, the Greek Theatre, and our beloved, recently renovated Griffith Observatory.
Colonel Griffith J. Griffith (horrible name I know) purchased Rancho Los Feliz (near the Los Angeles River) in 1882. He donated 3,015 acres (12.2 km2) to the city of Los Angeles on December 16, 1896 which became a city park.Griffith was kind of a bad ass though, and in 1903 an incident resulted with his being tried and convicted for shooting and severely wounding his wife. When released from prison, he attempted to fund the construction of an observatory, planetarium, amphitheater, 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 (what his money wasn't green enough?). So much for "paying your debt to society".
In 1912, Griffith designated 100 acres (0.4 km2) 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. 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.
From 1946 until the mid-1950s, Rodger Young Village (was a public housing project, set up to provide temporary housing for veterans returning to the Southern California area following the end of World War II.) occupied the area.
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. Over the years, a number of films were shot in the park.
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.
Griffith is interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. I felt after all he did for Los Angeles, it was the least I could do to take a few shots of his memorial. Thank you so much Mr. Griffith, we can finally see the stars in Los Angeles without being hindered by bright lights and smog!