2700 Vermont Ave, Griffith Park
4,300 seat capacity
Owned by City of Los Angeles
The Greek Theater is one of most historic and beautiful venues in Los Angeles. It is set in a picturesque natural canyon within Griffith Park's. Today the Greek Theater has 5,800 seats and boast state-of-the-art acoustics. It is owned by the City of Los Angeles and operated and managed by music promoter Nederlander-Greek Inc.The Greek Theater was completed in 1929. It is located within Griffith Park Los Angeles, once the property of wealthy L.A. land and silver mine speculator Griffith J. Griffith.
Griffith J. Griffith
Griffith J. Griffith was born in South Wales. He came to America in 1860 as a poor teenager and worked as a reporter in San Francisco covering the mining industry. He dabbled in mine speculation himself and quickly amassed a fortune. When he moved to L.A. in 1880 he was already a very rich man.
Col. Griffith Jenkins Griffith
In Los Angeles, Griffith continued to dabble in mining and L.A. real estate.
In 1882 he purchased the Rancho Los Feliz area of Los Angeles. He made huge profits in Los Angeles land speculation.
A trip to Europe convinced him that all the great cities of the world had a great park for all to enjoy. He strongly believed Los Angeles should have it's own great park. He wanted this great park to include a Greek style outdoor amphitheater and a science hall with an observatory.
In 1896 Griffith gave 3,015 acres of his Los Feliz Rancho to the City of Los Angeles to be a place of recreation and rest for the masses.
Griffith Park is home to L.A. Zoo, Pony rides, Travel Town, Merry-Go-Round, L.A. Equestrian Center, Live Steamers.
For many Los Angeleans it provides a place to camp, golf, hike, picnic, swim, play golf, soccer and tennis. It is home to the Hollywood Sign, Ferndell Nature Museum and Bird Sanctuary.
Unfortunately, as successful Griffith was in his business deals, he was less successful in his personal life.
Griffith suffered from delusions and paranoia. He was said to be nervous, compulsive and edgy. Some say he drank two quarts of whiskey a day. Almost all called him a pompous egomaniac. He even use the title Colonel in his name, even though he never served in the military.
Somehow, the unstable Griffith became convinced his wife was in cahoots with the Pope and that she was trying to poison him. In September 1903 he shot his wife in the face while they were staying at the Arcadia Hotel in Santa Monica.
Arcadia Hotel in Santa Monica 1890
She survived the shooting but it left her disfigured and blind in one eye. At his trial Griffith's defense claimed that Griffith suffered from alcoholic insanity. Griffith was sentenced to serve two years in San Quentin State Prison.
Out of prison and back in Los Angeles, Griffith continued his efforts to build an observatory and Greek Theater inside his beloved Griffith Park. He even offered the City money to finance the projects. However, at his point, no one wanted to associate with him and they declined his offer.
However, when Griffith died in 1919 his will established a trust fund of $1,000,000 to be used for the construction of a science hall with observatory and Greek style outdoor amphitheater within Griffith Park.
It wasn't until much later that the City set about to build these. The Greek Theater was completed in 1929, the the Griffith Observatory was dedicated in 1935.