Getty Center

“We shall be a city upon a hill,” prophesied the Puritan leader John Winthrop more than 300 years ago, and ever since, those words have remained a metaphor for American idealism. Now Los Angeles can claim our country’s latest, most stupendous incarnation of that vision: the Getty Center. Set high upon the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains and commanding a spectacular panorama of the sprawling metropolis below it and the Pacific Ocean beyond, that multiuse fine-arts complex finally opens to the public on December 16, after thirteen years of design and construction at an estimated cost of $1 billion.