Landmark Observatory Turns Out Lights for Renovations

Cyndi Kline
El Vaquero Staff Writer

After 67 years, the Griffith Observatory is closed for restoration. It closed Jan. 6, and will reopen in 2005.
According to Edwin C. Krupp, the observatory’s director, it is Southern California’s visible landmark, the link between the earth and the sky.

“Two million people see it every year. You can have direct contact with the cosmos,” said Krupp.
“We are not happy about it,” said Krupp. “However, we are relieved because it is being enhanced and enlarged. It needed to close.”

The Mt. Hollywood sign is a favorite place, and it overlooks the observatory.
Formed in the 30s Greek Revival style, it houses the twin “Zeiss 12” refractor.

More people have seen the sun magnified through this than any other place on earth.
Located on the southern slope of Mt. Hollywood, the three-dome profile confers presence and style on the city.

Griffith Observatory has seen hundreds of films shot on the property, the first being “Phantom Empire,” starring Gene Autry. “Rebel Without a Cause” was among the most famous film lensed there, as was “Dragnet,” starring Dan Akroyd.

The observatory is a magnet for artists and architects, where, on any given day, one can see easels and paintbrushes dotting the landscape in front of the building.

“Public architecture provides the connective tissue to public society,” said Krupp.

The observatory provides information and inspiration, and is a pioneer in public astronomy.

The famed telescope, which is the observatory’s center of attention, was invented 80 years ago in Germany and was transplanted to L.A.

“The planetarium offers live theater programs with human hosting,” said Krupp.
In the Hall of Science museum, which is the third major component of the observatory, the Jacques Fucoult pendulum demonstrates the earth’s rotation.

The murals in the main rotunda were painted by Hugo Ballin, who also painted similar ones in the entrance of the L.A. Times building.

“The murals in the rotunda were “a vision of amazing sensibility,” said Krupp.

“Everything on the grounds is free, except a $4.00 planetarium show fee,” said Krupp.

“We make contact with the public by these shows. Halley’s comet was seen here.”

Seventy million people have been here since it opened in 1935, causing it to be a top tourist attraction.

The three most important elements which comprise the building renovations are:

The complete re-development of the planetarium theater,

The completion of every element to restore it to its original 1935 grandeur and

Expand with 35 square feet of new space.

“We use fiber optics and new technology. There will be an aluminum dome, which appears seamless, so as to allow a better view of the stars,” said Krupp. “The sound system and lighting will be oriented to people in a cohesive, theatrical room.”.

Krupp said that the approach is to provide concrete expansion of celestial objects that people take for granted.

The project began on paper in 1978 and culminated in the actual renovation, which began in 1990.
Col. Griffith Jenkens Griffith, a journalist and the land donor for most of the park, said “If everyone could look through this telescope, it would change the world.”

“I found the lecture very interesting. It was visually effective and stimulating,” said Glendale Community College student Shaalani Ramos, 18.

“I liked the presentation. I work at the observatory, but even I learned new things today,” said GCC student Justine Takizawa, 20.

“It was a revelation. I can’t wait to see it when it opens again,” said GCC student Vichy Kermanian.