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Life by Design


Griffith Park's Hidden Histories

Posted by Carren |

 This is probably one of my favorite stories of 2019. It takes one of L.A.'s most iconic spots and uncovers the many aspects of it. What I found will surprise even the most veteran of Angelenos, I think. 

If you need to know more, please catch the Lost LA episode on Griffith Park!


Los Angeles, city of dreamers and doers; perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than in over 4,300 acres of rolling hills, steep inclines and blessed flat land. Bordered by the 5 and the 134 freeways, Griffith Park, a sprawling landscape of chaparral, brushy scrubs and oak woodland, has been the canvas on which many Angelenos have drawn their dreams and aspirations.

View of Los Angeles from Griffith Park. Photo by: Carren Jao.
Take for example, the Griffith Park Teahouse. Under a blanket of darkness in June 2015, a “ragtag group of L.A. enthusiasts built a Japanese-inspired teahouse — a love letter to the city. On the side of the structure, blank wood shingles hung on hooks, with a nudge to write down a wish for the city. By the end of the guerilla project, over 6,000 wishes were collected, including Stephanie’s, which read “hoping all these beautiful wishes come true ... and more rain.”

But long before the teahouse was even conceived, a lone pine tree stood sentry atop Burbank Peak. Some accounts say the tree has been standing guard for almost 40 years. It was Mark Rowlands, owner of a special effects lighting company, who first put an ammo box, journals and pens by the tree, but even then a binder already existed at the locally christened Wisdom Tree (aka The Giving Tree or Magic Tree or even the Tree of Life). One Wisdom Tree letter writer was Cadet Christian Beckler, who wrote, “Don’t have a clue how many times I’ve been here… this place seems to have a magnetic presence in a crazy life. It has brought me peace in times of hardship and difficulty. It is my church.”

Since Colonel Griffith J. Griffith and his wife, Mary Agnes Christina "Tina" Mesmer gifted the initial 3,015-acre land to the City of Los Angeles on December 1896, Griffith Park has also become the literal landscape where the city's never-ending and ever-changing answer to the question of its identity plays out. [read more]



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