Rediscovering Griffith Observatory in the Whittington Collection
As part of a NEH-funded project, the USC Libraries are digitizing nearly 40,000 negatives from the "Dick" Whittington Collection. Many of these negatives are at-risk, so this project restores a portion of the vanishing visual record of Los Angeles during the 1920s and 1930s.
Metadata cataloger Gordon Spates has been responsible for reviewing the digitized images from the Whittington Collection with a team of USC students. Using information recorded by photographers from the "Dick" Whittington studio, Spates and the team labeled the images so they can be found easily in the USC Digital Library. Through the project, Spates saw many familiar L.A. landmarks in a new and unfamiliar light.
Among Spates' favorites were early photographs of Griffith Observatory under construction in 1933 and 1934. “I particularly enjoy this group of photographs of the construction of Griffith Observatory," said Spates. "It combines the history of the building's construction with the iconography of a famous landmark and the views of the Los Angeles basin beyond the construction site."