Griffith Park

From Academic Kids

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Griffithparkwelcomesign.jpg
Welcome sign at Griffith Park's northwest entrance

Griffith Park is a large park situated in the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles, California. It covers over 4107 acres (16.6 km²) of land, making it one of the largest municipal parks in the United States.

Contents

History

After successfully investing in mining, Colonel Griffith J. Griffith purchased Rancho Los Feliz (located near the Los Angeles River) in 1882 and created an ostrich farm on the site. Although ostrich feathers were a popular aspect of the millinery trade in the late 1800s, Col. Griffith created the farm primarily to lure residents of Los Angeles to his nearby property developments. After the property rush peaked, and supposedly spooked by the ghost of Antonio Feliz (a previous owner of the property) he donated 3015 acres (12 km²) to the city of Los Angeles on December 16, 1896.

Afterwards Col. Griffith became better known for delusionally shooting at his high-society wife; when later released from prison he attempted to fund the construction of an observatory, planetarium, and amphitheater in the park. His reputation in the city was tainted by his eccentric actions however, so the city refused his money.

In 1912 Griffith designated 100 acres (400,000 m²) of the park, at its northwest 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 the site. The aerodrome passed to the National Guard Air Service. Air operations continued on a 2,000 foot (610 m) long runway until 1939, when 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 removed. Today that site is occupied by the Los Angeles Zoo parking lot, the Museum of the American West, soccer fields, and the interchange between the Golden State Freeway and the Ventura Freeway.

Col. Griffith set up a trust fund with the promised money, and after his death in 1919 the city began to build what Griffith had wanted. The amphitheater was completed in 1930, and Griffith Observatory was completed 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.

The Griffith Park Fire occurred on October 3, 1933. Hired as part of a welfare project, 3,780 men were in the park clearing brush. When the fire broke out in the Mineral Wells area, many workers volunteered or were ordered to fight the fire. Foremen with no knowledge of fire fighting directed the effort, setting inappropriate backfires and sending hundreds of workers into a steep canyon. When the wind changed they were trapped. 29 men were killed and 150 more were injured. Professional firefighters arrived and limited the fire to a mere 47 acres (190,000 m²). Because of the disorganized nature of the employment, it took weeks to establish the exact death toll and identify the bodies. The Griffith Park Fire remains the deadliest in Los Angeles history.

Attractions

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Map of Griffith Park
Today, in addition to the Griffith Observatory and Greek Amphitheatre, Griffith Park hosts the Los Angeles Zoo, the Museum of the American West, two golf courses, the Travel Town train museum, the Los Angeles Live Steamers model railroad track, a merry-go-round, the Hollywood Sign, and many hiking trails. The local unit of the Sierra Club has been leading free evening and weekend conditioning hikes in Griffith Park every week for almost 50 years.

Bronson Canyon is a popular shooting location.

Griffith Park was used as a location in the first two Back to the Future movies. In the first movie it was used for Marty's starting point, and in the second movie it was used for the "River Road Tunnel" scene when Marty was tring to get the almanac back. The same tunnel was used as the entrance to Toontown in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit."

Plans

The Los Angeles Department of Recreation & Parks is currently in the planning stages for future development of the park; their initial Master Plan is posted at: [1] (http://www.laparks.org/dos/parks/griffithPK/masterplan2005/masterplan2005.htm)

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