Griffith Park…when size really matters

The map series...click to embiggen Every now and then I get stuff in my inbox thats just too cool not to share. This infographic from Sparefoot shows just how freaking BIG Griffith Park is compared to other cities of the world.  At over 4000 acres its one of the biggest city park in the world.  No one else comes close, heck its even larger than some national parks.  But I digress, when Brian Shreckengast of Sparefoot reached out and asked if I would be interested in sharing with all of you the answer was an emphatic YES!

Click to embiggen the pic to the right to get the whole effect.  Using some special mapping software Brian mapped the outlines of Griffith Park and then used that map to superimpose it over some of the worlds cities to show just how big and special Griffith Park is.  Massive is an understatement.  The full story on how they did it and larger maps can be seen on their WEB SITE.

I have always loved this park.  When I was a valley dweller, Valley Village to be precise, this was my go to place to hike, walk, or just clear my head.  I miss the road that once was open from the observatory to Travel Town as it gave excellent spots to stop and and soak in the city sights and vistas.  But thats been closed at least 20 years at this point and I doubt they’ll reopen which is sad as it makes so much of the park out of reach for a quick walk on the trails.

What’s your favorite spot in the park?

Image courtesy Brian Shreckengast of Sparefoot and used with permission.

 

 

Time Is On Our Side

It's NOT the end of the world as we know it, says Griffith Observatory Planetarium lecturer Kelley Hazen, just the daze of our lives.

I got an invite last week to come to a media preview of Time’s Up, the Griffith Observatory’s new planetarium show, so in between Good Samaritan Hospital’s never-miss Blessing of the Bikes yesterday morning and a long-overdue physical exam that afternoon, I biked up the hill to one of my favorite places in Los Angeles to take advantage of the Observatory’s hospitality and see how and why they decided to counter the anxiety being produced by those doomsdayers dead-set in their belief that the Mayans predicted the world to end this coming December 21 and that it’s so going to happen.

The answers are with a provocative and eye-popping new program in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium that opens on the beach next to the Santa Monica Pier, serene for a few moments until meteors start raining explosively down upon the westside, a huge tsunami closes in and a rogue planet grows larger as it bears down on its collision course with earth — accompanied by flying monkeys, of course.

Inside joke: Pictured during this doomsday scene is Lifeguard Station No. 5150. Since most of the station IDs are no more than two digits, I’m betting this was done in snarktastic reference to the police code that’s basically short for bugged-out basketcase kRaAzEe.

But just when all seems lost, Planetarium Lecturer Kelley Hazen steps in bearing a beautifully illuminated and illuminating hourglass to put a freezeframe to all the apocalyptic nonsense and go on with a visually stunning and intellectually compelling show that counters folly with fact and explores what time is all about.

Continue reading “Time Is On Our Side”

L.A.’s Greatest Landmarks: Griffith Observatory

That one of L.A.’s most prominent landmarks is perhaps most prominent because of a movie says a lot about L.A.  Way before I had ever been to Los Angeles, heard the term “Art Deco,” or knew the significance of the Griffith Observatory, it was embedded in my consciousness due to the 1955 film “Rebel Without a Cause.”  The Griffith is one of the movie’s “stars,” from the famous knife fight involving James Dean outside and planetarium-watching inside early on, to Sal Mineo‘s death scene at the end.

But after moving here, I discovered that the Griffith Observatory is the Swiss Army Knife of Los Angeles landmarks.  It has numerous uses, and appeals to people for different reasons beyond its starring role in “Rebel” (and its lesser role in “The Terminator“):

1.  The Architecture

In a city full of art deco designs, the Griffith is perhaps the standout.  That may be because the gleaming three-domed concrete building literally stands out, maybe more than any structure in Los Angeles save for the Hollywood signIt has been called “the hood ornament of Los Angeles,” an apt term for our car-obsessed city.  The Griffith, constructed during the Great Depression and formally opened to the public in 1935, can be approached and explored from many angles.  As often happens with art deco structures, I discover some new detail — a nook, carving, door, or viewing perspective — every time I go.  Last time I was there, after our fabulous Donut Summit, I hiked on the trails around the Griffith and enjoyed seeing it from a distance as well.

2.  The Planetarium and Telescope

The Griffith is, after all, an observatory, and many schoolchildren are taken there primarily for this purpose.  The Observatory was closed for renovations, including an underground expansion, in 2002 and reopened in early November 2006, coincidentally, just a few days before I arrived here.  Now it is as popular as ever, with its renamed Samuel Oschin Planetarium redone with state-of-the-art projectors and equipment.  A nifty, industrial-design cafe was added during the redo, subtly sunken below grade on the side, with a long terrace outside.  I happen to think the cafe is a tasteful and tasty addition to the Observatory.

3.  The View

It is perfectly rational to come to the Griffith and not set foot inside.  In addition to the architecture, the views from the Griffith are captivating.  I didn’t realize that L.A. had several separated clusters of tall buildings (downtown, Century City, Wilshire Corridor) until I viewed them from the Griffith.  But then turn in another direction, and you’ll see modern and classic Spanish style homes, Jacaranda trees (depending on the time of year), and usually arid hills that dominate this part of the city.  And of course, the Hollywood sign.  Turn a few degrees more, and, on a clear day, you’ll see the ocean.

I would also be remiss in not mentioning that the Griffith Observatory is nestled near the edge of the fabulous, 3,000 acre Griffith Park.  From picnicking (and Donut Summiteering) to the Greek Theater to the hiking trails, one can easily branch out from the Observatory to enjoy its surroundings.

4.  The Democracy

As befits an important city landmark, admission to the Griffith and surrounding park is free.  Parking is free.  Telescope viewing at night is free.  The planetarium will set you back, but not very much.  On any given day, you’re likely to find a mixture of locals, tourists, schoolchildren on field trips, and a tv actor walking his Great Dane (although you’ll have to be there with someone else, as I was, who has the radar to spot these stars under their baseball caps).  Folks I know enjoy the place at twilight, for hiking or picnics and drinks under the emerging stars.

Ultimately, then, what is so appealing to me about the Griffith Observatory is its versatility.  Angelenos and tourists alike can go to this magical-looking place, named after the fantastically named Griffith Griffith and located on top of the appropriately named Mount Hollywood, to pursue their own wishes, from architectural exploration to hiking to viewing the city from above to star-gazing, both celestial and celluloid.  What could be more L.A. than that?

(See the rest of the “L.A.’s Greatest Landmarks” series here)

Cure for a Donut Coma?

After leaving Sunday’s fabulous and famous Donut Summit, I decided to do some impromptu hiking on the trails near Griffith Observatory.  I learned a few things:

1.  Donuts do not make for great energy food for hiking.  Who knew?

2.  That bite of Stan’s peanut butter-filled donut probably saved my ass.  Not to mention that it was delicious.

3.  All that coffee was a big help too.

4.  Wrong turns = more uphills.

5.  Windy day + big hat = side trips down and up steep loose inclines to retrieve hat that inevitably blows away.
More to learn in Griffith Park, with photos, after the jump

Autumn arrives in LA and we have color too!

Lunch break and book reading in the Crystal Springs Area
Lunch break and book reading in the Crystal Springs Area of Griffith Park

Autumn for us isn’t about great swaths of color in our wooded areas and neighborhoods.  Its more like an exclamation point of color among the evergreens.  The grasses on the hilltops turn a golden yellow that is accentuated by the warm toned, long shadowed light we get this time of year.  Yesterday I detoured off the Freeway on the way home in the late afternoon just to enjoy “our fall color”.  Quite a few people had the same idea and were picnicking, horse back riding and hiking in the park.  Nice days like this are for enjoying not being stuck in a cube.

I have a couple more pics after the jump. Continue reading “Autumn arrives in LA and we have color too!”

More Griffith Park Historic Landmark Stuff

This landed in my inbox and I think it’s important to pass along. Wish I had time to distill it down in my own words but today is my “get the first cat of my six-feral collection neutered” day and I am running out to buy a bigger cat carrier that I can’t afford.

Having Griffith Park named a historic cultural landmark has extremely important benefits beyond the designation itself which creates opportunities for additional funding for maintenance and care of the park, and protection and acknowledgement of the special place this park has in Los Angeles’s colorful history. MacArthur Park is already a historic landmark; doesn’t Griffith Park — ALL of Griffith Park — deserve to be?

That said, this application is much bigger than just the designation. The bottom line is that Griffith Park is the front line in the struggle to keep our green space in Los Angeles away from developers and special interest groups. Sadly, Councilmember Tom LaBonge is fighting this application against the wishes of the Griffith Family, his constituents and the vast majority of Angelenos for exactly this reason — if all of Griffith Park becomes a historic cultural landmark, then every special interest project must go through a very public process for approval. No more backroom deals!

The item copied below is a great letter from the GGPNC outlining some of the sneaky ways politicos are trying to derail this application (very important!) and explaining exactly what action steps each of us needs to take to successfully support the Griffith Park application.

I hope everyone can take a few minutes out of their busy days to help support this pivotal application…

…and please share this with message with others.

Sincerely,
Kristin Sabo (parks volunteer, and steward-caretaker of Amir’s Garden)
————————————-
www.AmirsGarden.org

Instructions on how to make your voice heard are behind the jump thanks to the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council.
Continue reading “More Griffith Park Historic Landmark Stuff”

Griffith Park: Vote as Historic-Cultural Monument

This came across my desk this morning…I’m running out of town, so I confess to not researching this as thoroughly as I should have. However, it seemed appropriate to get this out here…but I thought the park was already a historic monument? Maybe not? Sorry–I should have been on my way this morning to get here. Will post pics from the road.

Here’s a quick and easy way to support Griffith Park. The LA Daily News is running a poll TODAY ONLY. You can vote to support Griffith Park’s Historic-Cultural Monument designation.

http://www.dailynews.com/

Scroll about half way down the page. It’s on the left side, Friday’s Online Poll.

Please vote to support the park!

Griffith Park Clubhouse Now Rockin’ the Caddyshack

clubhouse.jpgMy friend Andrew Pogany, senior editor and chief LA-booster over at Flaunt, is presiding over yet another fantastic event (after curating LA-cultural-stuff affairs at Taix for some time (at one event, Eric Garcetti read an abridged early history of Los Angeles, and, if memory serves, sang a little song)). Now, “Twilight Drinks at the Griffith Park Clubhouse” takes over the historic, FDR-sponsored Spanish revival lounge and supper/brunch joint–and its gorgeous views of the Park’s golf course–every Wednesday night this summer, from 7:30p-11p. All this, and special prizes go to those in the best Caddyshack costume! The fine, fine film itself will be screened weekly on the outdoor patio. So, we’ve got that goin’ for us…which is nice.

Barbeque burgers, veggie burgers, grilled hot dogs & mac & cheese are on the menu, ranging from $6-$10. Full bar with drinks ranging from $4-$10 and beers on tap. Feel free to dress as your favorite Caddyshack character; however no golf attire will be required.*

The info on the event follows behind the jump.

* I love that they decided this was necessary to add

Continue reading “Griffith Park Clubhouse Now Rockin’ the Caddyshack”