LAistory: Griffith Park
It all started with the ostriches. Well, not really, but don't you think it should have? In fact, Griffith Park started with a curse. When the original owner of Griffith Park, Don Antonio Feliz died of small pox in 1863, he left his extensive land holdings to Don Antonio Coronel. Subsequently, his blind, destitute 17 year old niece, Dona Petronilla, cursed the land -- great misfortune would come to whoever owned it.
One by one, Coronel's family died from misfortune and disease. He left the land to his wife, who married again only to have her husband try to divorce her and get the land for himself. The next owner tried to develop it as a dairy farm, only to be wiped out by rain and debt.
Griffith Park (formerly called Rancho Los Feliz) was purchased by Colonel Griffith J. Griffith (His parents must have hated him) in 1882. He had made his money in coal mining, and he started an ostrich ranch on the property, where thirty of the birds lived. Though ostrich feathers were popular in fashions at the time, Griffith's primary interest in the farm was to draw people to his nearby property holdings. People would come by and watch the animals be plucked. (Which, just in case it bothers you, doesn't harm the ostriches.)