Griffith Jenkins Griffith, a Welsh immigrant, donated the land and funds to build both the observatory and a Greek Theater.
The observatory was opened on May 14, 1935.
During World War II, the observatory's planetarium was used to train pilots to navigate using the stars. It was also used to train Apollo program astronauts in the 1960s.
Since the observatory opened in 1935, admission has been free, in accordance with Griffith's will. However, one must make a reservation to visit the building.
The building is located on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Los Angeles' Griffith Park, just above the neighborhood of Los Feliz.
The observatory has appeared in many movies including Rebel Without A Cause, The Terminator, The Rocketeer, The End of Violence, Bowfinger, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, and Queen of the Damned. It has also been featured on many television shows.