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Griffith Observatory - Los Angeles

The Griffith Observatory with its iconic Art Deco architecture
The Griffith Observatory with Los Angeles in the background

You've probably spotted this building in lots of films, from The Terminator to La La Land. The Griffith Observatory is definitely one of Los Angeles most famous and recognisable land marks.

Located on Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park you can enjoy amazing views of LA including Hollywood and the Pacific Ocean. You can even get a good view of the Hollywood sign.

The building is based on the astronomer Russell Porter's vision for an observatory. Architects Frederick Ashley and John C Austin developed the iconic Art Deco design that's part Moorish mosque and part Roman Temple in appearance.

The great depression meant materials and labour were inexpensive and easily available in 1933 when construction began. By the way, labour was low cost because the building was a New Deal Work Progress Administration project, an employment and infrastructure program created by President Franklin D Roosevelt to try and relieve economic hardship. In fact the total cost of construction was kept to an incredibly low $400,000!

The thick concrete walls, painted warm white, that you see today are a result of a major earthquake that resulted in abandonment of the planned terra cotta exterior in favour of the stronger walls.

The buildings domes, probably the most recognisable features, are made from copper panels that have oxidised over time to give them their bright green colour.

The concrete arches found on the planetarium's walkway are heavily influenced by Art Deco as well as Greek Revival styles.

Griffith's will stipulated that the admission to the observatory should remain free and it has done to this day. It's a popular destination, in fact, with an estimated seven million people having taken a view though the 12-inch Zeiss refractor telescope since the building's opening in 1935, it's thought to be the most people to have viewed through any telescope on the planet.



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