Griffith Park

Griffith Observatory at the park
Photo by: Matthew Field, CC

Griffith Park is a very large park located at eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles, California. The land covered by this park is about 4,310 acres, making this park one of the largest urban parks in North America. This park is the second largest park in California just after Mission Trails Preserve in San Diego. The park is also popularly referred to as the “Central Park of Los Angeles.” However, it is much more un-tamed and rugged compared to the actual Central Park.

History of the Park

Colonel Griffith was a successful investor in the mining industry. After his success in mining, he purchased the Rancho Los Feliz area near Los Angeles River in 1882. He decided to start an ostrich farm here. During this time ostrich feathers were popularly used in making women’s hats. However, this was not the main purpose for creating the ostrich farm; Griffith actually wanted to lure the Los Angeles residents to his property developments. After the property rush ended, he donated 3,015 acres to the Los Angeles city in 1896.

In 1912, Griffith designed 100 acres to be used for aviation. This resulted in the building of the Griffith Park Aerodrome. After a while, Colonel Griffith decided to set up trust fund for the improvements to the park. After his death in 1919, the city started to build what Colonel Griffith always wanted: an amphitheater. The Greek Theatre was completed in 1930 while the Griffith Observatory was later built in 1935.


On October 3rd, 1933, 3,780 men inside the park were clearing brush when fire suddenly broke out by Mineral Wells area. 29 people were killed and 150 injured. However, professional firefighters arrived at the scene and contained the fire to 47 acres. In 1961, a strong wildfire burned 814 acres. This fire destroyed 8 homes and damaged 9 more. In 2007, a severe wildfire destroyed about 817 acres. This burned down the bird sanctuary and hundreds of people were forcefully evacuated from the site. The city announced a $50 million plan to rehabilitate the affected slopes.

Things to Do

Visitors to Griffith Park can choose to attend the concerts at the Greek Theatre. The theatre was, in fact, built to look like a Greek amphitheater. The William Mulholland -Memorial Fountain is dedicated to engineer who built the very first aqueduct that was used to bring water to the city. At Crystal Springs, you will find the ranger and visitor information station, picnic area, parking lot and a merry go round. Further on past the golf course you will find the Los Angeles Zoo together with the Autry National Center.


Inside Griffith Park you will find a 9-hole golf course, 27 tennis courts, two 18-hole golf courses, a baseball diamond and a basketball court. The park has a swimming pool that is open during summer.


In 2011, this park was one of the busiest destinations in Los Angeles for shooting movies. The park has a wide variety of amazing scenery; this makes it easier for the different production crews to find new ways and angles to film at the park and still make the location appear different.

Park hours

Griffith Park is opens at 5:00 AM and closes at 10:30 PM. All the hiking trails and the mountain roads close at sunset. There is ample free parking on the southern side and vehicles can be left at parking areas next to Greek Theater until 10:30 PM.

In July 2010, an additional 100 acres just around Cahuenga Peak were added to the park. This brought the park’s total size to about 4,310 acres.

Los Angeles Famous Landmarks

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