Built in 1935, the Griffith Observatory is a historic landmark and monument that has been a popular tourist attraction since its inception. It is located high on a mountain overlooking Los Angeles; the location affords the best view of the Hollywood sign. It serves as an observatory, planetarium and exhibition space for science-related topics. It is a public institution and as such anyone can visit the building for free. About one million people visit the observatory every year and over 70 million people have visited it since it opened.
Backstory and Context
Griffith (1850-1919) was born in Wales and immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager. He worked as a journalist and mining advisor, eventually becoming rich when he worked in Mexican silver mines. This led him into the real estate industry. Upon observing parks in Europe, he decided that Los Angeles needed a large park and donated his property (which amounted to over 3,000 acres) in 1896 to make this possible. In 1904 he visited the Mt. Wilson observatory and was so impressed that he decided to provide funds to build one in Los Angeles. However, he died before it could be built, but he did bequeath money in his will for its construction. The will also stipulated that the observatory be a public place.