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.