Welcome to downtown L.A.’s vibrant Grand Avenue, where the city of angels becomes the city of culture

Drone photography puts the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Broad museum in focus.
(Travis Geske / For The Times)
Executive Editor

I had known about Eli Broad’s many business accomplishments, having first met and written an article for the Wall Street Journal about him in 1969. A trained accountant, he had already established what would become KB Home Corp., one of the nation’s most innovative home builders, and soon after, he acquired Sun Life Insurance of America. After converting Sun into a retirement savings company, he sold it to American International Group in 1999.

Since then Broad and his wife, Edythe, have immersed themselves in philanthropy. The Broad Foundation supports entrepreneurship in education, science and the arts, whereas the Broad Institute funds biomedical and genomic research at MIT and Harvard.

It was only after reading his history of Grand Avenue, however, that I came to appreciate how much of Broad’s time and energy have been devoted to the arts in Los Angeles. We were delighted when he agreed to let us publish his piece as the centerpiece of a report about Grand Avenue.

Other pieces include a Bunker Hill timeline from the 19th century to today; articles by Times critics Mark Swed, Christopher Knight and Carolina A. Miranda; an architectural assessment of Grand Avenue from critic Justin Davidson; a guide for viewing art from Times staff writer Deborah Vankin; and a report on the Grand, the Related Cos.’ $1-billion shopping, entertainment, hotel and residential project, designed by Frank Gehry. (Construction on the project began in February.) Times photographers Jay L. Clendenin and Kent Nishimura spent hour after hour in pursuit of the best light and angles to illustrate the art palaces on Grand Avenue and the people who helped make them happen.

FULL COVERAGE: Grand Avenue project »


My thanks go to all these contributors, and to Alice Short, a senior Times editor who supervised the report; Michael Whitley, assistant managing editor for design; deputy design director Kelli Sullivan; and director of photography Mary Cooney.

I first learned last December that Eli Broad was writing a 40-year history of Grand Avenue. He wanted to show how the development of a few blocks on Bunker Hill had transformed Los Angeles, helping it to become one of the world’s great cultural capitals.

Although the Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Ahmanson Theatre and Mark Taper Forum had opened in the 1960s, Broad said he wanted to show how the addition of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Broad museum helped make Grand Avenue a destination for millions of residents and tourists alike.