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Then and Now: Griffith Park in 1940 and today

Brittany Martin

For Then and Now, we hunt through the archives of amazing vintage photographs of Los Angeles to find historic images—and then do our best to go out and recreate those same photographs today. We're curious about how far we've come and what's stayed the same in this constantly-changing city we love. 

Photograph: Courtesy USC Libraries, California Historical Society Collection, 1860-1960

Griffith Park, Circa 1940

Colonel Griffith Jenkins Griffith (that was his real name, but fake title he gave himself), a mining magnate and philanthropist, donated 3,015 acres of land to become Griffith Park back in 1896. Later he also contributed funds to construct the observatory, shown here shortly after opening in 1935. During World War II, the observatory's planetarium was considered so advanced that it was used to train military pilots.  

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Griffith Park, 2016

Griffith said he wanted the park to always remain "a resort for the rank and file, for the plain people." And the people—plain and otherwise—continue to enjoy his gifts to the city. The observatory, now one of L.A.'s most iconic landmarks, has famously appeared in movies from Rebel Without a Cause to the Terminator series. According to L.A.'s film-permitting office, Griffith Park is the busiest shooting location in the city, touting 346 production days a year. 

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