In 1914 Camp Seely in the San Bernardino Mountains in Crestline was the first family camp developed, and in 1919 Camp Radford opened in Big Bear in the San Bernardino National Forest. Camp High Sierra in the Mammoth region opened to families in 1924 and has actually proved popular to this day with generations of the same member of the family participating in the camp. Then came the regional camps; Griffith Park Boys Camp opened in 1925 and a year later Hollywoodland Girls Camp opened. The last two camps to be included were Decker Canyon Camp in Malibu and Camp Valcrest in Angeles National Forest.
By 1915 the Department saw the need for arranged social activities for the general public. The Department established indoor leisure centers that included gymnasiums, game rooms, phases for drama and other performances, food service facilities, and showers. Today with 150 entertainment centers, Ann Street Leisure Center (near City Hall) being the very first, opened its doors in 1908. The Department opened the very first local lawn greens golf course in Griffith Park in 1923 and constructed and officially opened Harding in 1924 (later referred to as Wilson-Harding Golf). Prior to 1923, golf players played on sand greens on a course called Riverside, built by the Department and volunteer golfers in 1900.
1925 was a turning point year for public entertainment in the City. The Charter produced a Department of Playground and Leisure and approved both the Department of Parks and the Department of Play ground and Entertainment control of their own funds. In addition, this year brought the acquisition of Venice Beach and later Cabrillo Beach. With the addition of the Greek Theatre in 1930, the Cabrillo Marine Museum in 1934, the Los Angeles Zoo (recently progressed into its own Department) and the Griffith Observatory in 1935, the 1930’s brought even more development and advancement. Prepared for emergencies, in between 1941-1945 parks and play grounds and the public schools were designated places of haven in an emergency.
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5 million. In 1947. a charter change was proposed to combine the Department of Parks and the Department of Playground and Leisure. Citizens authorized the merger by a bulk and the Department of Leisure and Parks was born in a time of broadening advancement of both departments. Today, the City’s Department of Leisure and Parks manages all municipally owned and run leisure and parks facilities within the City and has been the human face of the City of Los Angeles. Rooted in the objectives of our predecessors, we continue to bring individuals together to commemorate, to complete, to learn new skills, and to relax with household and buddies.
A horse-drawn carriage ascends a mountain road in Griffith Park, circa 1908. Thanks to the Title Insurance and Trust/ C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries. The recent premiere of downtown L.A.’s Grand Opportunity Park and the continuing debate over the public usage of Pershing Square has actually returned attention to a longstanding criticism of Los Angeles: its relative lack of parkland within the city limits. Yet, paradoxically, L.A. boasts among the biggest city parks in the nation; at 4,310 acres, Griffith Park is four times the size of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and almost 5 times the size of New York’s Central Park.
Hiking tracks open the park up to recreational users, while destinations like the Griffith Observatory and Los Angeles Zoo draw countless travelers and other visitors yearly. How did Los Angeles concern get and maintain such a big system of land for public recreation?Before Griffith Park, Los Angeles had Rancho Los Feliz. The cattle ranch lands– for centuries, home to successive waves of the region’s native residents– were bounded on the north and east by the Los Angeles River and encompassed the rugged eastern tip of the Santa Monica Mountains along with the flatter lands now inhabited by East Hollywood, Los Feliz, and Silver Lake.
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A Spanish soldier who accompanied Juan Bautista de Anza on his 1775 exploration through California, Feliz was among the first citizens of El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles and later on worked as its comisionado, managing the town’s civil administration on behalf of Alta California’s governor. At some point around his retirement in 1800, the Spanish federal government rewarded Feliz for his service by approving him 6,647 acres of land– Rancho Nuestra Seora de Refugio de Los Feliz, later on reduced to Rancho Los Feliz. Rancho Los Feliz included prime area near the pueblo and along the Los Angeles River. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, via Big Map Blog.