Since 1912, in the United States, Christmas trees have become common in outdoor public places during the holiday season. It was only until fairly recently, however, that public Hanukkah Menorahs, like public Christmas trees, have appeared in public places.
In December 1974, the Jewish Chabad organization in Philadelphia set up and lit a small wooden menorah in front of Independence Hall to mark the celebration of Hanukkah. It was the nation’s first public menorah. Although the lighting of a 22-foot-tall menorah in Union Square in San Francisco in December 1975 is the most commonly acclaimed debut of a public menorah on the West Coast, it was not the first on this side of the country. Shortly after the Philadelphia menorah appeared in 1974, the Chabad West Coast headquarters in Los Angeles also set up a public menorah - a 16-foot-tall menorah outside their Westwood center. It was the first public menorah installed on the West Coast. The L.A. menorah was built by Shaul Eisen.
Public menorahs for the Hanukkah season now appear throughout Los Angeles County, including at Los Angeles City Hall, Farmer’s Market on Fairfax and at Universal CityWalk. The Universal CityWalk event, first held in 2001 (same year as the first Hanukkah celebration at the White House, under President George W. Bush), has grown into the largest Hanukkah celebration on the West Coast. The event includes a concert and the lighting of a 15-foot, 1,000 pound public menorah.
Source: How the First Grand Public Menorah Was Born in San Francisco, 1975, by Menchem Posner, Chabad.org