Image: Griffith Observatory
David Mcnew  /  Getty Images file
Guests tour the newly remodeled Griffith Observatory, which overlooks Los Angeles from atop the Hollywood Hills, during a Thursday night preview.
updated 11/3/2006 5:45:06 PM ET 2006-11-03T22:45:06

The Griffith Observatory, home for stargazers and a famous backdrop for such stars as James Dean and Arnold Schwarzenegger, reopened on Friday after a four-year, $93 million makeover.

Known by many as the setting for key scenes in such movies as the 1955 Dean classic “Rebel Without a Cause” and Schwarzenegger’s 1984 film “The Terminator,” the observatory and planetarium atop the Hollywood Hills has been a Los Angeles fixture for more than 70 years.

Opened in 1935, the Griffith Observatory was the dream of landowner and keen amateur astronomer Griffith Jenkins Griffith, who had a vision of making astronomy and observation accessible to everyone.

The renovation, the first in the observatory’s history, has doubled the size of the facilities, although most of the extra space is underground so as not to change the familiar skyline.

The three-domed building, visible for miles and offering a bird’s eye view of Los Angeles, the second-largest U.S. city.

Griffith Observatory also had a backdrop role in movies and TV shows including “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” and “The Simpsons.” Much of “Rebel Without a Cause” was shot there, and a bust of the late James Dean — who died in a car crash before the film was released — stands on the grounds.

The observatory now boasts a state-of-the-art planetarium, new exhibition galleries and a 200-seat theater. The renovation was financed by the city and Friends of the Observatory.

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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