"They set the base, and then other institutions, sponsors and people gave more money to it. This is the way we are starting," he said. "And I think we are trying to make very sound decisions, so the park works from Day One, and then other things can get added to it."
L.A. officials are hoping for what has become known as the "Millennium Park effect," the way in which the park brought urban renewal and prosperity back to Chicago's center.
Visitors to the park swarm around an elliptical sculpture that has been affectionately nicknamed "The Bean": groups of schoolchildren, wearing matching T-shirts or baseball caps, jockey to see their reflections in the massive, stainless steel monument; and tourists pose for pictures in front of the skyline reflected on its surface, a kind of fun-house mirror on the city.
In warmer months, they frolic near the Crown Fountain -- two 50-feet-high glass block towers that evoke "2001: A Space Odyssey."
Millennium Park's Uhlir said private donors were skeptical at first about putting their money into a park.
"Ultimately, after it was finished, they all feel pretty satisfied that they have created something that is pretty remarkable," he said.