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The Best Scenic Views of Los Angeles

Griffith Park Observatory

Griffith Park Observatory

Perched atop Mount Hollywood, the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California, stands as a beacon of scientific curiosity and celestial exploration. With its commanding view of the sprawling Los Angeles Basin and the glittering Pacific Ocean, coupled with a close proximity to the iconic Hollywood Sign, the observatory beckons over 7 million visitors since its opening in 1935. Named in honor of its benefactor, Griffith J. Griffith, the observatory offers free admission, in accordance with Griffith's will, inviting all to marvel at its 12-inch Zeiss refractor telescope, which has facilitated more views of the cosmos than any other. Within its walls, a captivating array of space and science-related displays ignites the imagination, making Griffith Observatory a cherished destination for both tourists and local enthusiasts.



The Griffith Observatory in Film - A Cinematic Icon

Griffith Observatory has solidified its place in cinematic history, gracing the silver screen in numerous iconic films. From its pivotal role in "Rebel Without a Cause," which propelled it to international recognition, to its appearances in classics like "The Terminator" and "Back to the Future" series, the observatory has become synonymous with the allure of Los Angeles. With each cameo, including recent hits like "La La Land" and "Terminator Genisys," Griffith Observatory continues to captivate audiences and serve as a timeless backdrop for Hollywood's most memorable moments.

The Griffith Observatory in Television - A Television Landmark

Griffith Observatory's iconic silhouette has graced the small screen in countless television shows, becoming a familiar backdrop for both drama and comedy alike. From its portrayal as Jor-El's laboratory in "Adventures of Superman" to its recurring role in "90210," the observatory has become ingrained in television lore. Its appearances in diverse series like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Lucifer," and "The Simpsons" showcase its versatility, while its inclusion in reality shows like "Dancing with the Stars" and "Top Chef" adds a touch of glamour. With each cameo, Griffith Observatory continues to shine as a symbol of both scientific wonder and Hollywood magic.

Griffith Observatory Exhibits

The Foucault Pendulum: As visitors step into the world of Griffith Observatory, they are greeted by the mesmerizing sight of the Foucault Pendulum. Designed to showcase the Earth's rotation, this iconic exhibit has captured the imagination of countless visitors since the observatory's inception in 1935. Its rhythmic swing serves as a reminder of the cosmic dance in which our planet partakes.

Exploring Evolution with the Cosmochron: A testament to Griffith's vision of making science accessible, the Cosmochron exhibit, introduced in the late 1930s, delves into the fascinating journey of evolution. Narrated by esteemed Caltech Professor Chester Stock, accompanied by captivating slide shows, this exhibit invites visitors to ponder the mysteries of life's unfolding narrative.

Journey through the Cosmos in the Planetarium: Under the central dome lies Griffith Observatory's crown jewel - the Planetarium. From captivating shows on lunar landscapes to explorations of distant worlds within our solar system, the Planetarium offers an immersive experience that transports visitors beyond the confines of Earth.

Café at the End of the Universe: A culinary homage to cosmic exploration, the Café at the End of the Universe beckons weary travelers to replenish their spirits amidst celestial wonders. Adorned with the awe-inspiring "Big Picture," an astronomically accurate depiction of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies, this café promises a dining experience like no other.

Centered in the Universe: Step into a realm of high-resolution immersion with "Centered in the Universe." This innovative exhibit combines cutting-edge laser technology with celestial storytelling, offering a captivating glimpse into the cosmos. Directed by observatory art director Don Dixon, this 30-minute journey through space ignites the imagination and sparks curiosity.

Exploring the Cosmos in Six Sections: From the Wilder Hall of the Eye to the Edge of Space Mezzanine, Griffith Observatory invites visitors on a comprehensive exploration of the cosmos. Each section offers unique insights, from astronomical tools and telescopes to celestial phenomena, providing a holistic understanding of the universe we inhabit.

Unleashing Electricity - Griffith Observatory's Tesla Coil

Nikola Tesla's revolutionary invention, the Tesla coil, takes center stage at Griffith Observatory, captivating visitors with its awe-inspiring displays of electrical prowess. Fondly known as "GPO-1," this colossal coil, built in 1910 by Earle Ovington, stands as a testament to both scientific ingenuity and engineering marvels. Originally designed to outshine its predecessors, including Elihu Thomson's 1893 creation, this coil's electrifying demonstrations at Madison Square Garden left audiences spellbound, with discharges estimated to reach a staggering 1.3 million volts. Donated to Griffith Observatory in 1937, the coil underwent meticulous restoration, thanks to the expertise of Observatory staffer Leon Hall and Hollywood special effects maestro Kenneth Strickfaden, ensuring its legacy as a beacon of electrical fascination for generations to come.

Astronomers Monument

Standing proudly on the front lawn of Griffith Observatory, the Astronomers Monument serves as a poignant tribute to the luminaries of astronomical history. Crafted in 1934 as part of the New Deal initiative, this magnificent artwork, adorned with an armillary sphere, immortalizes the contributions of six legendary figures: Hipparchus, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton, and William Herschel. Designed collaboratively by six local artists, the monument stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of these great minds whose discoveries shaped our understanding of the cosmos.

A Celestial Legacy - The Evolution of Griffith Park

Griffith Park embodies a rich tapestry of history and innovation dating back to its inception in 1896. With a visionary gesture, Griffith J. Griffith's donation of over 3,000 acres of land laid the foundation for what would become a beacon of public astronomy. Bucking tradition, Griffith's dream materialized in the form of the Griffith Observatory, an architectural marvel crafted with meticulous detail under the guidance of renowned architects John C. Austin and Frederic Morse Ashley. Opening its doors to the public in 1935, the observatory quickly captivated the imagination of thousands, offering not only a glimpse into the cosmos but also serving as a vital training ground for pilots during World War II and later, astronauts during the pioneering days of the Apollo program. With its blend of Greek and Beaux-Arts influences, coupled with its role in celestial navigation education, Griffith Park stands as a testament to Griffith's enduring vision of making astronomy accessible to all.


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