The following story appeared in the Park Labrea News and Beverly Press 70th Anniversary issue, published April 21. To view the entire issue, click here.
It’s safe to say the Miracle Mile community would look very different today were it not for Steve Kramer. Though he quickly admits that he didn’t do it alone and has had great help along the way, Kramer founded and now directs the Greater Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce, and he has had a hand in forming the Mid City West Community Council.
Kramer is a native Angeleno who graduated from USC, studied law at UCLA and opened his practice in the Miracle Mile in 1993.
Kramer said he and some younger attorneys at his office realized the Miracle Mile was “pretty quiet at that point” but they wanted to get people together and meet more members of the community.
“We said we oughta do something,” he said.
Kramer remembers the first meeting at Callender’s Wilshire Restaurant with colleagues and business owners who worked in his building. He also remembers having breakfast with Larchmont Chronicle co-founder Jane Gilman, who explained that a chamber existed before, but that the area was in need of one again. It grew from there.
“We just started doing it,” Kramer said.
He remembers the Miracle Mile in the 1990s as a place Angelenos would just drive through.
“It wasn’t a destination like it is today,” he said.
Word started to spread, and the chamber started to grow. Kramer learned early on that good ideas make a difference, and how simple the process can be if you ask.
He said he remembers wondering why there wasn’t much street parking in the Miracle Mile. He brought it up to Renée Weitzer, former City Councilman Tom LaBonge’s deputy at the time, and they worked together to develop more public parking spaces. Kramer explained the additional spaces gave people the opportunity to park and leave their cars and walk down the streets. It helped activate the communities and area businesses.
“That was a big deal,” he said.
It built momentum for the chamber. And the more meetings Kramer had, the more the chamber grew.
“Then it started snowballing,” he said.
Friends and partners started recommending the chamber to each other and elected officials started to support the efforts as well.
“There were people interested because either they didn’t have a chamber or they just didn’t feel connected,” Kramer said.
Now the chamber has eight board members and 125 members.
Kramer co-founded TarFest with James Panozzo in 2003 to make Museum Row more accessible and give local artists new avenues to showcase their work. After 13 years, TarFest has become a staple in the community that draws thousands.
“It’s taken its own trajectory now,” Kramer said.
Kramer is the president of the board of LaunchLA, a nonprofit that Panozzo founded with a similar mission when they created TarFest.
Kramer said in 2002 he remembers the day he realized that the Miracle Mile made it on the map when he was driving home and saw Mick Jagger’s and Bob Dylan’s names on the El Rey Theatre marquee.
“I knew something had happened,” Kramer said. “I specifically remember walking into my house and telling my wife.”
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