Griffith J Griffith

QUESTION:  What does the "J" in Griffith stand for?
A)  Griffith
B)  James
C)  Jenkins
D)  Jefferson

In yesterday's blog, we discussed the story of Rancho Los Feliz, a ridiculously large block of land that was granted to the first mayor of what would become Los Angeles. It was originally 6,647 acres, but by 1882, small sections had been shaved off and sold to various investors. The bulk of it was sold to a Welsh immigrant named Griffith J. Griffith.  He was fifteen years old when his family moved from the old country to Ashland, Pennsylvania, located in the heart of coal country (near Centralia, a town that deserves its own blog entry!). At twenty-three years of age, Griffith moved to San Francisco, where he took a job as manager of the Herald Publishing Company and also became a correspondent specializing in the mining industry.  He not only became an expert, but amassed a great fortune from mining.  He bought 4,000 acres of what was the Rancho Los Feliz in 1882, and five years later married Mary Agnes Christina Mesmer.  

Griffith and his wife donated exactly 3,015 acres of their Los Angeles land to the city as a public park in 1896, calling it a Christmas present. The city accepted the gift and named it after Griffith. He would later donate another thousand acres along the Los Angeles River to the city as well. Griffith Griffith was an outspoken teetotaler in public but, behind closed doors, he allegedly experienced alcohol-fueled rages. That was the reason given when, in 1903, he shot his wife in the face. He did not, surprisingly, kill her, but he did disfigure Christina. There was a sensational trial, and Griffith was sentenced to three years imprisonment at San Quentin for assault with a deadly weapon (he served less than two). Christina did get a divorce from him, and gained custody of their only child. When Griffith died in 1919, he left $1.5 million to the city for construction of a Greek Theater and an observatory, both of which were constructed in the park named after him. Thanks to the impact of movies, Griffith Park Observatory is one of the most famous in the country.

ANSWER:  C)  Jenkins


QUESTION:  The Disney California Adventure Park opened next to Disneyland in 2001 on land that had previously been dedicated to what purpose?
A)  Waste treatment
B)  Parking
C)  Nature trails
D)  An airport

Yesterday's discussion of Walt Disney has inspired the blog to delve a little deeper into the man who created an empire.  Aside from the fifty-five animated features developed at the Walt Disney Animation Studios and numerous other films both animated and live action created by Disney and their affiliates, they have also become the world leader in theme park destinations. That all started in Anaheim, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. During the 1940's and early-Fifties, Walt Disney received countless requests from fans to visit his animation studios.  Aware that they would not be all that exciting, he tried to think of a way to please his fans. Meanwhile, he took his two daughters to Griffiths Park, a wooded refuge in downtown L.A. dominated by an observatory used in numerous films. There was also a carousel owned by Ross Davis. Disney's daughters, Diane and Sharon, loved to experience the carousel and its Wurlitzer band organ (more on that in another blog), but Walt and the other parents found the experience somewhat boring. He wanted to be entertained, too, and suspected other parents would agree.

In 1955, Disneyland opened with great fanfare. The day was July 17th, averaging at 101 degrees Fahrenheit, which proved difficult. Asphalt poured that morning was still hot enough that women's high-heeled shoes sank into them. And there were problems with the plumbing, such that they had to choose between keeping the toilets working or the water fountains. They wisely opted for the former, although visitors accused Pepsi of rigging things to improve sales of their beverage. And only about half the people who entered the park had legitimate tickets. Others either obtained counterfeit tickets or climbed the fences to get in. So yes, there was a lot of chaos, and some criticism.  Walt invited the 'legal' visitors to come back the next day for free for a second chance. People have been going ever since. In fact, there are currently twelve parks around the world: two in Anaheim, four in the Orlando, Florida region, two in Tokyo, two in Paris, one in Hong Kong, and the newest one in Shanghai, China. 

ANSWER:  B)  Parking.  It had been the original parking garage for Disneyland.