Some of the greatest cultural landmarks and civic achievements in Los Angeles resulted from its philanthropic spirit. Here is a chronology dating from the last century.

1919: Railway Treasure
Henry Huntington and his wife Arabella started an organization to make their library and art collection available to the public. In 1924, the Huntingtons gave art treasures, buildings, land, investments and cash worth $13 million at that time, it was the largest single sum ever donated by an individual in Southern California to the project. The Huntington Library Art Collections and Botanical Gardens opened to the public in 1928 and remain popular today.

1924: Better Way
The predecessor of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles was founded, bringing together 166 agencies and raising nearly $2.5 million from 168,000 donors. Originally called the Los Angeles Community Chest, the organization decentralized into five regional operations in 1971. The name United Way originated in Los Angeles in 1963 when 30 community chests and funds combined. By 2005, the United Way had an annual income of $59.4 million and supported 200 local agencies.

1937: Nazi Response
The Los Angeles Jewish Council was incorporated. As Jewish immigrants fled the Nazis, their numbers swelled in Southern California. The council controlled the United Jewish Welfare Fund, which coordinated local and foreign philanthropy projects. Another group, the Jewish Community Committee, emerged as the forerunner to today's Community Relations Committee, which combats discrimination and anti-Semitism.

1945: Going to War
The Los Angeles Area War Chest raised a record $1.1 million, thanks to 24,741 individual donors. The campaign enjoyed the backing of Hollywood guilds and unions. When a Time magazine article scolded the film industry for not supporting charities, P.G. Winnett, co-founder of the Bullocks department store chain and chairman of the War Chest, responded by saying Hollywood's record of giving was "a convincing example for less civic-minded groups."

1954: Oil Wealth
The Getty Museum opened in Pacific Palisades. The original collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, 18th-century French furniture, and European paintings were exhibited in J. Paul Getty's ranch house. In 1974, the collection moved to a newly constructed Roman villa based on an original at Herculaneum. Getty's death in 1976 left $700 million worth of stock to the museum, but lawsuits blocked access to the money until 1982. In 1997, the paintings moved to the Getty Center, a white-stone, billion-dollar landmark on a hilltop in Brentwood.


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