The City Club got its start at the tail end of the go-go 1980s building boom in downtown. Every year, it seemed, a new mirrored monolith popped up on Bunker Hill or in the Financial District. A bank. A law firm. Another bank. And every new building brought with it an extra skyscraper full of briefcase-carrying suits.
It was an elite world, and one already catered to by the Jonathan and California clubs, which opened in the late 19th century.
They had a 100-year head start on the City Club and a legacy as the hideaway of L.A.’s power players. But they also had recently tarnished reputations, the result of membership restrictions that sparked legal and political battles. So when the City Club opened in 1989 — a few years after the other spots had started to admit women and African Americans — it branded itself as a hub of diversity.
In a story that ran a few months after its opening, a Los Angeles Times writer described the City Club as a place that “touts itself as a little United Nations among private clubs.” About 17% of City Club’s members were women that first year, according to the piece, which pegged the Jonathan Club’s female membership at 3% and said the California Club didn’t disclose the figures.
Look, in a world where Private Clubs were almost exclusively white and male, The City Club tried to go after women and minorities. Hat’s off.
If joining is something that interests you, you should read the rest of Marisa Gerber’s piece in the L.A. Times.