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Johnny Carson Park Image Collection

In 1942, negotiations with the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power resulted in the purchase of approximately 51 acres for a future park development (10 acres of which were to be reserved for a future hospital site) in an effort to beautify the L.A. River area. Some portions of the land that were deemed unsuitable for park uses were sold to St. Joseph Hospital and NBC throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s. In June 1943, the site was officially named Buena Vista Park due to its proximity to the street of the same name. The construction of the Ventura Freeway further encroached onto the acreage. In 1968 an agreement was signed with the City of Los Angeles to lease a portion of Griffith Park to be used for park purposes (from Riverside to the flood control channel, bounded by Catalina and Buena Vista Streets). On April 29, 1992, Buena Vista Park was renamed after Johnny Carson to honor the host of NBC’s Tonight Show. The renaming of the former Buena Vista Park site was set to coincide with Mr. Carson's retirement from the Tonight Show. The Tonight Show Playground was named in honor of the $15,000 donation made in 1993 by Jay Leno through the Jay Leno Foundation to help raise funds for its construction. Funding also came from the Youth Endowment Services Fund.