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Crystal Springs Picnic Area

CATEGORY: In the News |
On Mar 11, 2015

It’s been a favorite gathering place for Angelenos for decades. If your family or community group had a big event, chances are you met here at the Crystal Springs Picnic Area in Griffith Park. Most activity in the park before World War I was centered in the Crystal Springs area because it is one of the few flat areas in the park.

Crystal Springs was a popular picnic area even before Griffith Park existed. In the 1880s, the area was known as Rancho Los Feliz and included an Ostrich Farm. It was the first recreational activity in the area that would later become Griffith Park. Col. Griffith was part owner of the Ostrich Farm Railway which brought visitors from Sunset and Beaudry downtown to the Ostrich Farm. The Ostrich Farm with large pens for ostriches also included a variety of birds and animals, trails, and elaborate picnic grounds. The 1886-87 Los Angeles City Directory declared the Ostrich Farm “the very acme of happiness for children.” But when the economic boom ended, and ostrich feathers were no longer fashionable, the Ostrich Farm was dismantled. The experience, however, did plant the seed in Griffith’s mind for a park with trails, animals, and picnicking.

During the Great Depression Griffith Park became the home of three Civilian Conservation Corps camps. The park benefited greatly from their work; they planted trees, built check dams, cleared fire breaks, planted a new lawn in the Mineral Wells Picnic Area, and built cascades in Fern Dell. Crystal Springs Picnic Area was developed in 1936 and families have been enjoying the spacious facility ever since. With four large groups of picnic tables and barbecues, the area is the only location in Griffith Park where large groups can reserve one or all of the areas for an event. It is also one of the few areas where barbecues are permitted because of fire danger concerns. The funds raised by the modest fee charged for picnic reservations are used for maintenance of the area. Crystal Springs is a popular venue for family reunions, company picnics, church groups, and other organizations. Near the reserved area, are broad grassy areas where families gather for birthday parties, a barbecue, or simply to let children run around and play. Adults usually gather in the shade of the large welcoming trees to watch their little ones chasing balls across the grass.

Member Appreciation Picnic

Friends of Griffith Park wanted to do something special to thank our members for their support. We celebrated with a member appreciation picnic in Crystal Springs on October 20. It was a perfect day for a picnic, sunny and bright but not too hot. A light breeze kept us cool. Seventy Friends joined us for traditional picnic fare: hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, green salads and cookies. A few volunteers came early and helped with the set up. Others helped us grill the hot dogs and hamburgers. Thank you all, especially Jay, Pearl and Denice. We have fabulous “Friends.”

Our guests enjoyed the camaraderie and shared Griffith Park experiences. Toddlers played and adults mingled. Margret’s delicious homemade cheesecake disappeared within minutes after she announced she was slicing it. Adults and kids alike engaged in the great debate, which cookie should I choose? They reached the same conclusion : try several of the yummy varieties!

The door prizes were a huge success, with plenty of swag to go around, thanks to our many generous sponsors and donors. FoGP President Gerry Hans called out the winning numbers at periodic intervals through out the picnic. More than half the guests walked away as winners.

It was a glorious day: the people, the laughter, the fun and the food. It couldn’t have been better.

We appreciate Crystal Springs Picnic Area. It proved again to be “the very acme of happiness for children” (and adults) as it was in 1886. It has a rich heritage and tradition which we hope will continue for future generations to enjoy.

Video of “Save the Sycamore” event held in Crystal Springs in 2014.



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