4. Griffith Park Was Donated to L.A. By a Convicted Criminal
Griffith Park was donated to the city of Los Angeles by mining magnate Colonel Griffith J. Griffith. He purchased 4,000 acres of the Rancho Los Feliz in 1882. In December of 1896, he donated 3,015 of the ranch to Los Angeles to be used as a public space, which became Griffith Park. However, in 1903 Griffith shot his wife in the face at the Arcadia Hotel. She survived the shooting, surprisingly, although lived without her right eye and was forever disfigured. A highly publicized trial followed and Griffith was convicted for assault with a deadly weapon. Even though the public initially thought he abstained from alcohol, the trial unearthed his violent drinking problem. He was sentenced to two years in San Quentin State Prison and was treated for his "condition of alcoholic insanity." After leaving jail, he tried to build a theater and observatory in Griffith park, but the donation was blocked by the city due to his sullied reputation. However, the philanthropist let the offer stand in his will, and after he passed away in 1919, the city used the money offered in his estate to build the Greek Theater and Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park, which are used to this day.