Bradley, Tom, 1917-1998

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Thomas Bradley (December 29, 1917 – September 29, 1998) was an American police officer, lawyer, and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he notably served as the 38th Mayor of Los Angeles from 1973 to 1993. He was the first and thus far only black mayor of Los Angeles, and his 20 years in office mark the longest tenure by any mayor in the city's history. His election as mayor in 1973 made him the second black mayor of a major U.S. city. Bradley retired in 1993, after his approval ratings began dropping subsequent to the 1992 Los Angeles Riots.

Born in Calvert, Texas, his family moved first to Somerton, Arizona before settling in Los Angeles, California. Bradley graduated from Los Angeles Polytechnic High School in 1937, and then attended the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) until 1940 when he left the institution to join the Los Angeles Police Department, becoming one of 400 black officers in a police department that had 4,000 officers. Bradley rose to become a Lieutenant by 1960, the highest ranking African American at that time. He attended Southwestern University Law School while a police officer, beginning his practice as a lawyer after being admitted to the bar in 1962. From 1963 to 1972, Bradley served on the Los Angeles City Council. During his tenure on the Los Angeles City Council, Bradley criticized racist attitudes within the Los Angeles Police Department, including the Department’s handling of the 1965 Watts Rebellion. In 1969, he unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty.

In 1973, Bradley bested Yorty in a rematch, becoming the first black mayor of Los Angeles. Bradley contributed to the financial success of the city by helping develop the satellite business hubs at Century City and Warner Center. Bradley was a driving force behind the construction of Los Angeles' light rail network. He also pushed for expansion of Los Angeles International Airport and development of terminals in use today. Although Bradley was a political liberal, he believed that business prosperity was good for the entire city and would generate jobs; for most of Bradley's long administration, the city appeared to agree with him. But in his fourth term, with traffic congestion, air pollution and the condition of Santa Monica Bay worsening, and with residential neighborhoods threatened by commercial development, the tide began to turn. With his political strength waning, Bradley chose to leave office in 1993. Bradley ran for Governor of California twice, in 1982 and 1986, but lost both times to Republican George Deukmejian.

Upon his leaving the office of mayor in 1993, Bradley joined the law offices of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, specializing in international trade issues. He had a heart attack while driving his car in March 1996 and endured a triple bypass operation. Later, Bradley suffered a stroke "that left him unable to speak clearly." He died in Los Angeles and was buried in Inglewood Park Cemetery.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity photographic collection, 1948-1978 Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Records of the Office of the Staff Secretary. 1976 - 1981. Staff Scheduling Memoranda. 1977 - 1978. 7/10/78-7/19/78
referencedIn Loren Miller papers, 1876-2003, 1932-1966 Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery
referencedIn [Collection of correspondence with and about Norman Mann, and with Sivia Mann], 1963-1999. San Diego State University Library, SDSU Library and Information Access
referencedIn Davis, Grace Montanez, 1926-. Oral history interview with Grace Montanez Davis, Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles, 1975-1990 oral history transcript, 1994 / [interviewed] by Phillip C. Castruita. University of California, Los Angeles
creatorOf Tom Bradley Collection of Material about Rapid Transit and Urban Development in Los Angeles, 1975-1977 University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
referencedIn Velina Hasu Houston Papers, 1986-1998 The Huntington Library
creatorOf Bradley, Tom, 1917-1998. Administrative papers, 1963-1993 bulk 1973-1993. University of California, Los Angeles
referencedIn Russell E. Train Papers, 1898-2005, (bulk 1957-2005) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Mono Lake Committee Collection, 1919-1997, (bulk 1977-1995) Water Resources Collections and Archives
referencedIn Yvonne Brathwaite Burke papers: California State Assembly, U.S. Congress, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and California Attorney General campaign, Bulk, 1966-1980, 1959-1980 USC Libraries Special Collections
creatorOf Bradley, Tom, 1917-1998. Tom Bradley : commercials, 1982-1986. University of Oklahoma, Political Community Archives
referencedIn University of California, Berkeley. Institute of Governmental Studies. [California general election, 1982 (Nov. 2), gubernatorial candidates, Bradley and Deukmejian : campaign ephemera and newspaper clippings]. Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley
referencedIn Arleta Chamber of Commerce & Residents Association Collection, 1963-2000. California State University, Northridge
referencedIn Alexander Pope papers, ca. 1932-2000, 1978-1990 Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery
referencedIn Records of the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration. 1966 - 1977. Photographs and Related Textual Material of Bicentennial Activities, Collected by the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration
creatorOf Hahn, Kenneth. Collection of Kenneth Hahn, circa 1945-1993. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Alphonzo Bell papers, 1933-1987 USC Libraries Special Collections
referencedIn Greene, David M. Material relating to the campaign of Thomas Bradley for Mayor of Los Angeles, [1968-1969]. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Train, Russell E., 1920-. Russell E. Train papers, 1898-2005 (bulk 1957-2005). Library of Congress
creatorOf Bradley, Tom, 1917-1998. Correspondence : with Marian Anderson, 1977. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn American Jewish University photograph collection, 1947-2007 (bulk 1947-1999) American Jewish University
referencedIn Outterbridge, John, 1933-. John Outterbridge papers, 1953-1997. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Stone, Gregory, 1949-. Gregory Freeman Stone collection on the Robert F. Kennedy assassination, 1944-1991 (bulk 1968-1991). University of Southern California, USC Libraries
referencedIn Records of the Office of the Staff Secretary. 1976 - 1981. Staff Scheduling Memoranda. 1977 - 1978. 7/20/78-7/31/78
referencedIn Pope, Alexander, 1929-. Papers of Alexander Pope, 1932-2000, (bulk 1978-1990). Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Bell, Alphonzo, 1914-2004. Alphonzo Bell papers, 1933-1987. University of Southern California, USC Libraries
referencedIn Michael Raoul-Duval Papers. 1974 - 1977. Domestic Policy Files Gerald R. Ford Library
creatorOf Mayor Tom Bradley Administrative papers, 1973-1993 University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
referencedIn Gregory Freeman Stone collection on the Robert F. Kennedy assassination, Bulk, 1968-1991, 1944-1991 USC Libraries Special Collections
creatorOf Bradley, Tom, 1917-1998. Collection of material about rapid transit and urban development in Los Angeles, 1975-1977. University of California, Los Angeles
referencedIn Associated Chambers of Commerce of the San Fernando Valley. Papers of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of the San Fernando Valley, 1955-1978. California State University, Northridge
referencedIn Harvard Law School Forums Records Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
referencedIn Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. Western Province. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity photographic collection [graphic], 1948-1978. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Associated Chambers of Commerce of the San Fernando Valley. corporateBody
associatedWith Bell, Alphonzo, 1914-2004. person
associatedWith Brandeis-Bardin Institute corporateBody
associatedWith Burke, Yvonne Brathwaite person
associatedWith Davis, Grace Montanez, 1926- person
associatedWith Greene, David M. person
associatedWith Hahn, Kenneth. person
correspondedWith Harvard Law School Forum corporateBody
correspondedWith Houston, Velina Hasu person
associatedWith Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. Western Province. corporateBody
memberOf Los Angeles (Calif.). City Council. corporateBody
associatedWith Los Angeles (Calif.). Office of the Mayor corporateBody
employeeOf Los Angeles (Calif.). Police Dept. corporateBody
associatedWith Miller, Loren person
associatedWith Mono Lake Committee corporateBody
associatedWith Outterbridge, John, 1933- person
associatedWith Pope, Alexander, 1929- person
associatedWith Stone, Gregory, 1949- person
correspondedWith Train, Russell E., 1920- person
alumnusOrAlumnaOf University of California, Los Angeles corporateBody
associatedWith University of Judaism corporateBody
associatedWith University of Oklahoma. Political Commercial Archive. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Calvert TX US
Somerton AZ US
Los Angeles CA US
Subject
Television advertising
Afro--American mayors.--California.--Los Angeles. Archival resources
Local transit--California--Los Angeles--Archival resources
Advertising, political
Los Angeles (Calif.)--Office of the Mayor. Archival resources
City planning--Archival resources
Los Angeles (Calif.)--City Council
African American mayors--Archival resources
Local transit--Archival resources
Los Angeles (Calif.)--Politics and government
Occupation
City council members
Mayors--California--Los Angeles
Lawyers
Policemen
Photographers
Activity

Person

Birth 1917-12-29

Death 1998-09-29

Male

Americans

English

Information

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