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Griffith Observatory: Hollywood’s Celestial Theater
SAH/SCC Zoom Presentation
Sunday, October 24, 2021

Join SAH/SCC for another exciting Zoom presentation by favorite speaker and SAH/SCC Member Stuart W. (Bill) Leslie. This time, Leslie will talk about the architecture of a Los Angeles icon: Griffith Observatory (John C. Austin and Frederic M. Ashley, 1935; Levin and Associates Architects/Pfeiffer Partners, 2006).

Leslie maintains that Griffith Observatory has never been apologetic about its show business personality, and has proudly embraced its role as a “star-studded cosmic extravaganza,” presenting popular science as only Hollywood can. “Griffith Observatory is the most visited and perhaps the most instantly recognizable observatory in the world,” maintains Leslie, “though it cannot claim a single significant astronomical discovery.” Drawing some two million people a year, it remains an enduring and iconic tribute to its founder’s vision of a truly public astronomy.

Appropriately, given its location on Mount Hollywood within eyeshot of the Hollywood sign and its frequent appearances in feature films and advertising, the building has become a celebrity in its own right, and a place that has transformed popular understanding of astronomy as profoundly as its inspiration, nearby Mount Wilson Observatory (Daniel H. Burnham and Company, 1904), transformed astronomy itself.

Leslie has taught the history of science and technology at Johns Hopkins University since 1981. His recent publications include two articles in Southern California Quarterly, one on LA’s Department of Water and Power’s architectural landmarks and the other on Southern California’s Cold War suburbs.

Click here to purchase a copy of the video ($5).

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