In his award-winning PBS film, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, documentarian Ken Burns devotes an entire episode to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Roosevelt’s New Deal answer to the catastrophic unemployment and dislocation of the Great Depression. During the 1930s, three CCC live-in camps were established in Griffith Park. They offered the dignity of work to otherwise indigent men who poured their energies into planting trees and constructing much of its hardscape. Today their handwork survives in retaining walls, paths, culverts, curbs, drinking fountains and other structures that are classic examples of what architectural historians call Park Style. Now that Griffith Park is an L.A. Historic Cultural Monument, we can and should preserve the work of our fathers’ and grandfathers’ hands, as much for its beauty as for its tangible reminder of how our America struggled and overcame adversity.
Friends of Griffith Park is in talks with historic consultants to determine the feasibility of restoring a prime example of the Park’s New Deal legacy, a 310-foot long retaining wall in Western Canyon that is at risk of collapse. Although damaged by time and marred by well-meaning repairs, close inspection of this signature feature reveals how willing workers skillfully chiseled and set each stone in place to create a thing of beauty. As a Friend of Griffith Park you help further the goal of protecting Griffith Park’s historic fabric.