by Sandra

Say what you want about Los Angeles — too crowded, too much smog, everyone’s so angry all the time — but I dare you to tell me about an American city that has more impressive public spaces that are totally free to go to at almost any time.

I finally went to the Griffith Observatory last weekend. Actually, I went twice in one week, and while the exhibits about space and science did not exactly pique my interest, I was quickly smitten with the large, open spaces and the spectacular view of the entire L.A. basin that stretched far south, clear to the port in San Pedro. The building itself, perched high in the Hollywood Hills, with its squatty, shiny-white pillars and copper domes, looked like something out of a Star Wars movie, like an Ewok hovel on the wooded moon of Endor.

Being there felt like a quintessential Los Angeles experience. The Observatory, with its view of the Hollywood Sign in the distance, helps perpetuate the L.A. myth, the city of lore — at once luring people from all over the world with a dim promise of a future with your name in lights, yet simultaneously reneging on that promise with the everyday crush of congestion and high cost of living. It is a Los Angeles that exists and doesn’t exist.

You can check out more photos, of course: here.