A Symbol of Los Angeles, A Leader in Public Observing
Griffith Observatory is southern California’s gateway to the cosmos! Visitors may look through telescopes, explore exhibits, see live shows in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, and enjoy spectacular views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Sign.
Griffith Observatory inspires everyone to observe, ponder, and understand the sky.
Griffith Observatory is an icon of Los Angeles, a national leader in public astronomy, a beloved civic gathering place, and one of southern California’s most popular attractions. The Observatory is located on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, just above the Los Feliz neighborhood. It is 1,134 feet above sea level and is visible from many parts of the Los Angeles basin. The Observatory is the best vantage point for observing the world-famous Hollywood Sign. Since opening in 1935, the Observatory has welcomed over 85 million visitors. Open late nearly every evening, Griffith Observatory’s audience is “the general public,” and it is one of the rare places where you will see people from every part of the region and from all parts of the world.
The Observatory is a free-admission, public facility owned and operated by the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks in the middle of an urban metropolis of ten million people. The 67,000 square-foot building is one of the most popular informal education facilities in the United States and the most-visited public observatory in the world (with 1.6 million visitors a year). Griffith Observatory is a unique hybrid of public observatory, planetarium, and exhibition space. It was constructed with funds from the bequest of Griffith J. Griffith (who donated the land for Griffith Park in 1896), who specified the purpose, features, and location of the building in his 1919 will. Upon completion of construction in 1935, the Observatory was given to the City of Los Angeles with the provision that it be operated for the public with no admission charge. When it opened in 1935, it was one of the first institutions in the U.S. dedicated to public science and possessed the third planetarium in the U.S.
Fulfilling the Observatory’s goal of “visitor as observer,” free public telescope viewing is available each evening skies are clear and the building is open. More people (8 million) have looked through the Observatory’s Zeiss 12-inch refracting telescope than through any other on Earth. More than 18 million have seen a live program in the Observatory’s Samuel Oschin Planetarium.
The building operated continuously from 1935 until January 6, 2002, when it closed for a comprehensive renovation and expansion. This ambitious $93-million project renewed the Observatory’s world-class standing and restored and enhanced the Observatory’s ability to pursue its public astronomy mission, all driven by a commitment to excellence and enabled by a successful public-private partnership between the City of Los Angeles and Friends Of The Observatory. The renewed building reopened to the public on November 2, 2006. It has operated since then with steadily increasing attendance and cultural visibility.
To learn more about the Observatory building, check out our Fun Facts.
The History of Griffith Observatory
Since 1935, the Observatory has provided southern Californians and visitors from around the world with chances to observe, to learn, and to be inspired. The inspiration for the Observatory, and for Griffith Park, came from Griffith J. Griffith, who was the benefactor for both. The idea of a “public observatory” was a very new one at the turn of the 20th century, but Griffith developed very precise specifications regarding what should be included in the building. His ideas were updated and enhanced when the Observatory was renovated and expanded from 2002-2006.
The Observatory has been a filming location since before it opened. There are guidelines for commercial, documentary, student, and news filming to avoid disruption of the building’s public schedule.
In rare instances, the Observatory permits rental use of the building and grounds for events that have a direct linkage to the Observatory’s mission.
Members of the media may contact the Observatory for assistance with information, photos, staff interviews, and filming guidance.
The Observatory seeks smart, helpful, and engaging people to create memorable visitor experiences. Most staff are part-time, and all staff are City employees.
Department of Recreation and Parks
In addition to the Observatory, the Department operates hundreds of parks, rec centers, pools, golf courses, senior centers, museums, playgrounds, and countless other facilities for the people of Los Angeles.
City of Los Angeles
The Observatory and the Department are part of the government of the City of Los Angeles, which provides services and amenities for the city’s four million residents.
Griffith Observer Magazine
Established in 1937, the Griffith Observer is the Observatory’s own monthly magazine. The Griffith Observer contains popular articles on astronomy and information about activities and events at the Observatory.
Explore the Observatory
Samuel Oschin Planetarium
Travel to the farthest reaches of the universe and into the microscopic building blocks of life. Live presentations immerse you in the wonder and meaning of the cosmos.
People have always looked at the sky and wondered what is really out there. Our 60 exhibits make you an observer and show you what we know.
The largest urban-wilderness municipal park in the United States, Griffith Park is filled with trails, trees, trains, attractions… and the Hollywood Sign!
Contact the Observatory
You may contact Griffith Observatory at the address and number listed. You may also follow the Observatory on social media or sign up for updates from the Griffith Observatory Foundation.
2800 East Observatory Road
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Weekday (Tuesday - Friday) Hours
Open 12:00 noon - 10:00 p.m.
Weekend (Saturday - Sunday) Hours
Open 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.