January 21, 2013

Photo Essay: A Return to Griffith Observatory

Although I'm always apt to try new hikes, taste new foods, and visit new places, I do find myself frequenting certain places in LA over and over again, most notably Griffith Park.

In fact, last week alone, I went to the Griffith Observatory three times: for the Huell Howser tribute, for a hike to Royce Canyon (post forthcoming), and for a tour of the Observatory, courtesy of the Los Angeles Historical Society and Councilman Tom LaBonge (whose police-escorted bike rides last summer were such fun).

Sure, I'd been to the Observatory before. I hiked up to it with Edith during one of my scouting missions to LA before moving here. I watched the solar eclipse after hiking The Big Parade last spring. I watched the planetarium show after taking a tour of Historic Fern Dell last summer.

But somehow, I had never been up to the roof deck...

...the highest point of access that looks down over the sprawling metropolis below...

...which also houses a telescope...

...used for public access and education rather than, say, research (like Mount Palomar or Mt. Wilson, both of which I've visited but about which I have not posted).

Beyond the stunning Art Deco architecture visible from the Observatory's stark white exterior - which is visible from many of the hiking trails around Griffith Park as well as from various vantage points around Old Hollywoodland - the interior is also quite lovely....

...with intricate murals across the vaulted ceiling above the main entrance rotunda, depicting classical celestial mythology with somewhat of an Art Deco aesthetic...

...above the entrancing Foucault Pendulum, whose swaying back and forth remains constant (thanks to magnets) while the Earth turns beneath it, causing the pendulum to knock down a series of pins every few minutes.

Among the other scientific instruments at the Observatory for public perusal is the Tesla Coil, whose high voltage, lightning bolt-like display is demonstrated hourly, spectacularly, and loudly.

As the sign held by Councilman LaBonge said, "Enjoy and Love Los Angeles." And to me, that means taking more than just a cursory look at its attractions and surroundings. Sometimes, you have to get to know a place - or a person - slowly, over time, with repeated exposures, under different lightning conditions, through different seasons, in different mindsets.

But the place - or the person - must be worth returning to. And that is a decision you have to make sooner rather than later.

Update 1/8/21 1:24 PM PT—RIP Tom LaBonge.


  1. You've been to Mt. Palomar? *is jealous* I have an indirect connection to visit if I ever want to, but I've not yet exercised it. Maybe I should.