Eli Broad rose to service when L.A. was at a low point

www.latimes.com
5 min read
fairly easy
Eli Broad stepped in when L.A. hit a low. He changed the city in ways he didn't always expect.
When Eli Broad flew into Los Angeles International Airport in 1963 with his wife, Edye, the 30-year-old self-made millionaire was not impressed. "The ground below us called to mind the old saying," he would later write, "'Los Angeles is 100 suburbs in search of a city.'"

When he died Friday, he was an 87-year-old billionaire who had a greater impact on his adopted home than perhaps anyone else in this city's modern history.

Broad left an indelible imprint on the city he once scoffed at, aiding in its transformation into a global city. He never held elected office but was one of Los Angeles' most influential figures for crucial decades of growth, setbacks and rebirths.

He took a prominent place in one of the city's most desperate hours, in the mid-1990s, when an economic recession, the Rodney King beating and subsequent uprising and the Northridge earthquake left L.A. battered.

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It was also a moment when corporations that once called Los Angeles home were rapidly exiting, and by many measures he was the last of the succession of civic builders who for a century held great sway in the city.

His work touched many parts of civic life, from the revitalization of downtown L.A. to the city's rise as an art capital to his efforts to improve L.A. schools and crucial support for the charter school movement. He didn't always get what he wanted, and not everyone always agreed with his vision and brand of power.

But his achievements are hard to dismiss.

He retired from public life a few years ago, but the seeds of his efforts continue to blossom. After years of delays, the massive Grand Avenue development he championed is now rising in Bunker Hill. The Frank Gehry-designed towers are transforming the downtown skyline once again in Broad's image.

"Eli Broad, simply put, was L.A.'s most influential private citizen of his generation," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Twitter Friday. "He loved this city as deeply as anyone I have ever known. He was a…
Maria L. La Ganga, Laurence Darmiento, Dakota Smith, Howard Blume
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