Los Angeles City Parks
City of Los Angeles
Department of Recreation and Parks
1200 West 7th Street Suite 700
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Enjoy Los Angeles City Parks!
Their mission is to enrich the lives of the
citizens of Los Angeles by providing safe, welcoming parks and
recreation facilities and affordable, diverse recreation and human
services activities for people of all ages to play, learn,
contemplate, build community and be good stewards of our
Their vision is to provide affordable
recreational, physical and cultural opportunities for all of Los
Angeles residents, with a focus on families, youth development and
building healthy communities. The programs and services offered by
the Department will provide excellent value and quality and
emphasize the equitable distribution of resources throughout the
City. We will offer these programs in safe, attractive and
well-maintained facilities that will reflect the publics needs and
They build healthy communities through people,
parks and programs.
City Parks History
The history of the Department of Recreation
and Parks is rich and diverse-stemming from the early days of Los
Angeles. Colonel Felipe de Neve, Governor of the Spanish province of
Alta California, officially founded Los Angeles on September 4, 1781
and created the Plaza in the center of the city.
The settlers, of Spanish, Indian, and African
ancestry, gave their little pueblo a big name "El Pueblo de
Nuestra Senora La Reina de Los Angeles," which means "The
Town of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels." The Plaza became the
first small unit in the original park system of Los Angeles,
currently its own Department known as El Pueblo de Los Angeles
The City was incorporated on April 4, 1850.
The City Council created the Department of Parks in 1889. At that
time the city owned several pieces of land that were believed
suitable for park purposes.
They turned over these properties to the
newly-organized Department of Parks. In a generous mood during
Christmas of 1896, Colonel Griffith J. Griffith offered to donate
five square miles of the Los Feliz Rancho to the City as a park. He
said, "it must be made a place of recreation and rest for the
masses, a resort for the rank and file, for the plain
What followed was the development of several
more parks including the original pueblo lands of the old plaza,
Elysian Park, Pershing Square, and later Lincoln Park, MacArthur
Park, Echo Lake Park, and Hollenbeck Park.
In 1904 the City created the first municipal
Playground Department in the United States. What followed was the
establishment of several playgrounds between 1905-1911, with the
first being Violet Street (near City Hall) in 1905.
Early in the establishment of the Department,
the Camping Section's system was incorporated. Children's camps and
family camp as a municipal recreation service began in 1913.
Although no longer open, the first camp was established in Redondo
In 1914 Camp Seely in the San Bernardino
Mountains in Crestline was the first family camp built, and in 1919
Camp Radford opened in Big Bear in the San Bernardino National
Forest. Camp High Sierra in the
Mammoth region opened to families in 1924 and
has proved popular to this day with generations of the same family
members attending the camp. Then came the local camps; Griffith Park
Boys Camp opened in 1925 and a year later Hollywoodland Girls Camp
The last two camps to be added were Decker
Canyon Camp in Malibu and Camp Valcrest in Angeles National Forest.
The Department's camping program was so innovative that Oakland,
Berkeley, Sacramento, Stockton, Long Beach, and San Diego followed
1925 was a milestone year for public
recreation in the City. The Charter created a Department of
Playground and Recreation and granted both the Department of Parks
and the Department of Playground and Recreation control of their own
funds. In addition, this year brought the acquisition of Venice
Beach and later Cabrillo Beach.
With the addition of the Greek Theater in
1930, the Cabrillo Marine Museum in 1934, the Los Angeles Zoo
(recently evolved into its own Department) and the Griffith
Observatory in 1935, the 1930's brought further growth and
Prepared for emergencies, between 1941-1945
parks and playgrounds and the public schools were designated places
of refuge in an emergency. In 1947, after the war ended, voters
approved a bond issue for parks and playgrounds for $12.5 million.
In 1947, a charter amendment was proposed to consolidate the
Department of Parks and the Department of Playground and Recreation.
Voters approved the merger by a majority and the Department of
Recreation and Parks was born in a time of expanding development of
Today, the City's Department of Recreation and
Parks manages all municipally owned and operated recreation and
parks facilities within the City and has been the human face of the
City of Los Angeles. Rooted in the goals of our predecessors, we
continue to bring people together to celebrate, to compete, to learn
new skills, and to relax with family and friends.