AboutObservatory History

Observatory History

Since the doors opened in 1935, Griffith Observatory has become the most-visited public observatory in the world. The Observatory’s history starts with the vision of one man and reflects the invention, innovation, and inspiration that also characterize Los Angeles.

Credit: Edison R. Hoge

The History of Griffith Observatory

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. From 1935-2002, the Observatory provided southern Californians and visitors from around the world with chances to observe, to learn, and to be inspired. Griffith’s vision for the building was updated and enhanced when the Observatory was renovated and expanded from 2002-2006. Since reopening after renovation, the Observatory has reached increasingly larger audiences, both in-person, online, and through media and film. In 2020, the Observatory celebrated its 85th anniversary.

Observatory History

History (1896 – 2002)

Exploring Griffith Observatory's past starts with namesake Griffith J. Griffith, whose plan for a public observatory was as visionary as it was audacious. From Griffith's bequest in 1919 to the Observatory's dedication on May 14, 1935, the story shifts to the astronomers, architects, and public leaders who made his vision to reality.

Renovation and Expansion

After nearly 67 years of heavy public use, Griffith Observatory closed its doors in 2002 for a comprehensive renovation and expansion, the first major capital improvement to the building since it opened in 1935.

Samuel Oschin Planetarium at the Griffith Observatory.

About the Samuel Oschin Planetarium

The Observatory pioneered programs on space travel and innovations in special effects. It remains one of the only theaters in the world to present all programs live.

Dr. E. C. Krupp

Directors of Griffith Observatory

Dr. E. C. Krupp became the Acting Director of Griffith Observatory in 1974. Krupp had been hired in 1970 as a Planetarium Lecturer and been appointed Observatory Curator in 1972.