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$6 Million for Observatory Project to Come From Bond

October 31, 2002|Beth Shuster | Times Staff Writer

Gov. Gray Davis announced Wednesday that Los Angeles will receive $6 million from the state in voter-approved park bond money to help renovate and expand the aging Griffith Park Observatory.

At a news conference with Mayor James K. Hahn and other local officials, the leaders never mentioned that L.A. had asked for $12 million from the money raised by Proposition 40, approved two years ago. Instead, officials said they were pleased about the money.

"This is a very important landmark," Davis said. "The Griffith Observatory is as much a part of Los Angeles' history as the Hollywood sign and the Santa Monica Pier." (The pier is in Santa Monica, not L.A.)

"My hope is that the observatory will keep the farthest reaches of space within the reaches of every child who comes up here," Davis said.

Hahn said the observatory is an institution treasured by residents and a great draw for tourists. Visitors, in particular, want to see the building because it has been prominently featured in films for so many years, he said.

"Whether it was attacked by aliens or in a James Dean movie ... it is one of the places people almost always stop by on their visits," the mayor said.

Plans for the observatory, closed since January, call for extensive renovations, including cleaning of the copper domes and construction of a theater to be named after actor Leonard Nimoy of "Star Trek." Nimoy donated $1 million to the project.

The remodeling will retain the observatory's Art Deco architecture while the expansion occurs underground for the theater. The cafe and terrace also are being renovated.

There have been no major improvements to the observatory since it opened in 1935.

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