Located in the abandoned Griffith Park Zoo, the setting is perfect!
The Griffith Park Zoo was a city-owned zoo in Los Angeles, California that opened in 1912 and closed in 1966 with the opening of the Los Angeles Zoo. The abandoned site of the Griffith Park Zoo, complete with the ruins of animal enclosures, is now a picnic area and hiking trail in Griffith Park.
The first zoo in Los Angeles was the Eastlake Zoo in East Los Angeles, which opened in 1885. The Griffith Park Zoo opened in 1912 with a grand total of 15 animals. The new zoo was built on the site of Griffith J. Griffith‘s defunct ostrich farm. In the mid 1920s, William Nicholas Selig donated many of the animals from his own collection to the new zoo.
It was expanded in the 1930s by work crews from the Works Progress Administration.Most of the enclosures were built in the caves-with-iron-bars style which was then standard for zoos.
Old cages with a sign explaining their historical background.
As Los Angeles grew, the small Griffith Park Zoo was increasingly criticized as an “inadequate, ugly, poorly designed and under-financed collection of beat-up cages”, despite drawing more than 2 million visitors a year. In 1958 the city passed a $8 million bond measure to create a brand new zoo. Griffith Park Zoo closed in August 1966 and its animals were transferred to the new Los Angeles Zoo 2 miles away, which opened in November 1966. The animal enclosures, minus bars, were left as ruins; picnic benches or tables were installed in some of them.
So my husband has been telling me about this really cool park that is right next to the Griffith Observatory, LA Zoo, and the Gene Autry Museum, all of which we have been to several times but never the park. After our recent visit to the Gene Autry we stopped at the park. We heard faint music that was very inviting and followed it until the magic really began.
Welcome, welcome, step right up, to the grand ol’ Merry Go Round!
Built in 1926 by the Spillman Engineering Company and brought to Griffith Park in 1937, the Merry-Go-Round boasts 68 horses, everyone a jumper. Each horse is finely carved with jewel-encrusted bridles, detailed draped blankets and decorated with sunflowers and lion’s heads. A Stinson 165 Military Band Organ, reputed to be the largest band organ accompanying a carousel on the West Coast, plays over 1500 selections of marches and waltz music.
Truly stunning and a must see in person to appreciate all of the detail on this.
Driving west along Zoo Drive, dotted with small picnic areas, nearly to Forest Lawn Drive, is an enclave where visitors can ride a miniature railroad operated by volunteers of the Los Angeles Live Steamers or visit Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn (also known as Walt’s Barn). At Travel Town Museum, historic, full-sized railroad locomotives, passenger cars, and streetcars comprise a collection that highlights transportation in Southern California, in association with an exhibit hall, model train layout, picnic areas, and a gift shop, all of which is encircled by the last of three miniature train rides in Griffith Park.
If you are ever in the area, definitely stop on by and check out what Griffith Park has to offer!
For more info: http://www.laparks.org/dos/parks/griffithPK/gp_info.htm