The park's former owner and namesake first used the park for an ostrich farm
That’s right, Colonel Griffith J. Griffith (they named him twice and his military rank may have been made up!) bought Rancho Los Feliz (the area that now includes the park and Los Feliz) in 1882 to raise ostriches. While the feathers were commonly used to make some rad-looking hats for ladies in those days, Griffith’s main goal was to attract residents to his neighboring property developments. And it totally worked -- 14 years later, after making bank, Griffith donated 3,015 acres of the property to the city of LA.
There used to be an airfield in the park
One of Griffith’s many grand schemes for the property, The Griffith Park Aerodrome, included a 2,000ft-long runway that was used by aviation pioneers and later the National Guard Air Service until it was demolished in 1939. Later the area was the site of the Roger Young Village -- temporary housing for vets returning from WWII -- and is now the site of the Autry National Center and parking for the LA Zoo.