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A Park A Day: Griffith Park, Los Feliz
July is National Parks & Recreation Month, and all month long LAist will be featuring a hand-selected park a day to showcase just a few of the wonderful recreation spaces--big or small--in the Los Angeles area.LA locals know Griffith Park is one of the greatest natural resources in our city. The park is an amorphous urban oasis that sprawls across 4,217 acres of the Santa Monica Mountains and boasts over 56 miles of hiking and horse-back riding trails, a zoo, an observatory, a golf course, a music venue, multiple museums, and a railroad. And unlike other city parks, our urban oasis is not only natural, steeped in history, and primo fodder for hard-core hikers, it’s a massive wildlife preserve that houses native animals, insects, and flora. Let us count the ways in which our ‘city park’ is unlike any other:
Photo by Katie Manderfield/LAist
1.) Griffith Park is Rooted in Wild West History
The first known settlers of what is now Griffith Park were the Tongvas Indians, who resided along the river and low-lying areas in rancheria-style adobes. The largest rancheria in the region was known as Rancho Los Feliz (a name you might be familiar with if you’ve conducted a Los Feliz Craigslist search in recent years, thanks to the aggressive marketing campaign of a local apartment complex that bears the same name). In 1882, Colonel Griffith J. Griffith, a CA mining tycoon originally from the South of Wales, purchased 4, 071 acres of Rancho Los Feliz and later donated a little over 3,000 acres to the city of Los Angeles to be used as a park (other land donations and city-zoning have granted the Park 4,217 acres at present). And you can thank Griffith for envisioning what is now the Greek Theater and the Griffith Park Observatory--he left funding for both in his will. (But before we allot Griffith too much praise, it should be noted that the successful businessman shot and severely wounded his wife in 1903, for which he was later tried, sentenced, and sent to prison. For more on the eccentricities of Griffith Park's donor, check out Mike Ebert's article, "Griffith Park's Unique Donor.")