Honoring LA’s Longest Reigning First Lady

Ethel Bradley

The late Ethel Bradley, who reigned an unsurpassed 20 years as Los Angeles’ First Lady, the wife of Mayor Tom Bradley, now has a train station named after her.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, chairman of the board at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, led the ceremony dedicating the Expo/La Brea Station in her honor.

“She was a woman of exquisite style and grace,” he said. “As Los Angeles’ first African-American first lady, Ethel Bradley was a true inspiration, serving with courage, perseverance and elegance.”

Ethel Mae Arnold was born in Texas in 1919 and moved to Los Angeles in 1930, at age 11. She married Tom Bradley in 1941 – the story goes he first saw her when they were both teenagers singing in the choir at New Hope Baptist Church.

Over his five consecutive terms as mayor, from 1973 to 1993, she cofounded the Black Women’s Forum; transformed the mayor’s official residence, Getty House, as its first occupant; and became an ardent supporter of the home baseball team, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“We honor Mayor Tom Bradley’s legacy of improving transportation in Los Angeles by dedicating the Expo/La Brea Station to the memory of his beloved wife, Ethel Bradley,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti, the current occupant of Getty House, less than five miles away.

“With her support, Mayor Bradley laid the foundation for the rail system we enjoy today and that we continue to build on to expand options for tomorrow,” he added. “Together, we can connect our communities and live up to the example that the Bradleys set for all of us.”

Tom and Ethel Bradley’s daughters, Lorraine and Phyllis attended the ceremony, as did former U.S. Rep. Diane Watson.


The underground train station at Crenshaw/Expo Boulevards, part of the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project

In other developments related to Metro, Governor Jerry Brown created another option for continuing the expansion of Los Angeles County’s public transit system.

By signing Senate Bill 767, he gave Metro the green light to ask voters if they would consider a sales tax increase to finance the expansion of various rail and bus lines, as well as other projects to improve mobility across a county that spans 4,752 square miles.

“Time stuck in traffic is time not being productive, being with family, or being where you want to be,” said State Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, who authored the legislation. “With voter approval, LA County can expand its transit system, address key highway needs around the county, bolster local transportation programs, and support sustainable development.”

“SB 767 will give LA County voters the power to raise funds for transportation solutions critical to the region’s future,” he added.

The legislation came in response to concerns felt countywide that more can and must be done to alleviate congestion and build a safer and more accessible transit system. Proposed improvements include an expanded light rail and bus system, highway improvements, safer biking and walking routes, as well as keeping fares affordable.

“Angelenos have been tremendously supportive of measures that help build and expand our transportation system ‎and reduce congestion,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

“We appreciate the Governor and State Legislature’s leadership on this regional priority,” he added. “The signing of this bill will allow Metro to continue to work with local stakeholders to determine whether to proceed with a measure for the November 2016 ballot.”

Metro boardmember Jackie Dupont-Walker, Supervisor and Metro Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, Lorraine and Phyllis Bradley, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Metro CEO Phil Washington

Metro boardmember Jackie Dupont-Walker, Supervisor and Metro Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, Lorraine and Phyllis Bradley, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Metro CEO Phil Washington