About Pasadena California
Few West Coast cities can claim to have the
diverse cultural history that Pasadena
possesses and even fewer have managed to maintain its history so splendidly. That
coupled with Pasadena’s glorious climate, unique architecture, sporting events and shopping districts make this city one of the most desireable and sought after addresses in the entire United States.
Few West Coast cities can claim to have the diverse cultural history that Pasadena possesses and even fewer have managed to maintain its history so splendidly. That coupled with Pasadena’s glorious climate, unique architecture, sporting events and shopping districts make this city one of the most desireable and sought after addresses in the entire United States.
Without doubt one of the features that makes Pasadena so special is its agricultural history. Way back in the winter of 1873, a group of farmers from Indiana decided that they could no longer stand the harsh Indian
a winter seasons and so they purchased a plot of land on the edge of Arroyo Seco, forming the San Gabriel Orange Grove Association. For a short period the area was known as the ‘Indiana Colony’ until 1875 when the land was officially named Pasadena.
Pasadena means ‘of the valley’ and it was the area’s topography that inspired the name. With its rolling valleys, lush virgin landscape and sumptuous sunshine, the name was an easy choice because it beautifully captured Pasadena’s unique defining features.
By the time the Indiana Colony arrived Pasadena was already a thriving community, home to vast acres of orange groves, vineyards and herds. Prior to their arrival it had been colonized by the Spanish and subsequently the Mexicans. They farmed the land, taking advantage of its natural resources to produce world-class quality fruit, wine and meat.
Little wonder that by the turn of the century, Pasadena had grown to become one of the top tourist destinations in the States, an accolade the town maintains to this day. By 1900, central Pasadena had become a busy yet quaint metropolis with a diverse variety of local businesses, hotels and cultural venues.
Between 1910 and 1930, the population of Pasadena grew to more than 30,000. Because of the town’s cultural and education institutes, Pasadena attracted some of the finest talent in the country, amongst them brilliant architects. It was during this period that Pasadena became known for its unique architectural style known as the Craftsman style, which was perfected by well-known architects, Greene and Greene.
The Craftsman style was defined by simplicity and honest integrity both as a design style and as a way of life. It was the goal of the Craftsman architects to leave behind the opulence of the Victorian era and reconnect with the natural landscape. They aimed to harness the inherent beauty of Pasadena’s valleys and allow them to influence building design.
As a result they created homes that worked in harmony with the land and merged the interior with the exterior. They built homes with expansive porches and French windows. They used materials that mimicked the natural environment, leaving wood beams exposed, using river rock for foundations and chimneys. This was all in stark contrast to the finished, polished look of the prior Victorian era.
The house style they preferred was the bungalow. In the hot climate of Pasadena, the bungalow made sense. It allowed for an open-plan ground level that could be surrounded by patio doors and numerous windows. This provided much needed ventilation, which was a must in the days before air-conditioning. But they also created neat façades that slotted peacefully into leafy gardens, giving home an organic feel both insides and out.
Pasadena’s huge growth during the first twenty to thirty years of the twentieth century can be attributed to the humble bungalow. Its biggest boon was that it was affordable. For a package price of between $1,000 and $2,500 it was possible to buy a bungalow and live a life of simple luxury.
Around this time a network of tram lines were laid down and the town continued to expand with new commercial enterprises starting and the addition of many cultural attractions. During the 1920s the Pasadena Playhouse was opened and the Rose Bowl stadium was built.
As a fledgling town, Pasadena was not exempt from the hardships of the Recession era in the 1930s. Much like all other American cities, Pasadena suffered a lot during this decade and the period of expansion ceased. World War II was a turning point for the city and marked the start of the city’s industrial growth. During the war, many of Pasadena’s hotels were used as military HQ.
Also in 1940, the completion of the Arroyo Seco Parkway, the first freeway in the west, provided a fast and direct route to Los Angeles. This allowed the growth of Pasadena as a thriving suburb for people working in the industrial areas of LA.
The first shopping centre opened in Hastings Ranch in 1956 and in 1969, the Pasadena Art Museum of Modern Art (now known as the Norton Simon Museum of Art) opened. However, the Sixties were not Pasadena’s finest hour as much of the city went into decline.
By the 1970s and 80s, the city council realised that Pasadena was too much of a national treasure to simply let it waste away and a period of revitalization began. It was the city council’s goal to recognise Pasadena’s cultural heritage and reform the city to its glory days of the 1920s.
The revitalization of the city began in Old Pasadena, the site of the city’s first commercial centre, the place where it all began back at the turn of the twentieth century. Town planners transformed Old Pasadena into a restaurant and commercial centre, making it one of the most prestigious attractions in southern California.
To fully appreciate Pasadena’s unique commitment to both preserving the past and making a better world for the future, there are two prime examples. The first is the Colorado Street Bridge, which was designed in 1913 and renovated in the early 90s to match the modern aesthetic of the city. The second is the Caltech institute, which during 1970 and 2005 has won no less that 31 Nobel prizes for developments in physics and chemistry.
If you’re one of the lucky people that’s thinking of buying a property in Pasadena, this is the ethos you’re buying into; a city that’s proud of its heritage but focused on creating modern ways of living that are in harmony with the landscape that surrounds us and the future that’s ours to build.
Most importantly, nothing is taken for granted in Pasadena. This is a city that’s lived, survived and thrived though the best and worst of times. Nobody understands these struggles and successes better than the town planners of Pasadena and they make it their goal to ensure that every development in Pasadena, is a development that improves quality of life for Pasadena residents.
Choose to live in Pasadena and you’ll find yourself in an old world paradise with its eye set firmly on the future. Mixing charm with science, heritage with style and convenience with comfort, Pasadena is truly one of the most unique city’s in California.
Snapshot History of Pasadena
1886 – 1920
1873: Formation of the San Gabriel Orange Grove Association
1882: Opening of Pasadena Public Library
1886: Pasadena incorporated
1890: Inauguration of annual winter Rose festival
1891: Foundation of Throop Polytechnic Institute; later became the California Institute of Technology
1900 – 1910: Building of many hotels in Pasadena old town and evolution of Craftsman architectural style that came to define Pasadena homes
1902: First Rose Tournament Football game
1913: Opening of Colorado Street Bridge
1914: Creation of San Rafael Heights and Linda Vista
1920 – 1930
1917: Opening of Pasadena Playhouse
1917: 100 inch telescope installed at Mount Wilson
1921: The Rose Bowl stadium and Brookside Park recreation facility were built
1924: Opening of Pasadena City Junior College District was created.
1926: Completion of Pacific Asia Museum
1927: Opening of City Hall and Central Library
1930 – 1950
1930s: Depression, Pasadena in decline
1940: Opening of Arroyo Seco Parkway linking Pasadena to LA
1940s: Pasadena hotels used as military HQ during the war
1945: Post-war boom
1950 – 1970
1950: The population increased to 104,777
1956: Opening of Shopping centre at Hastings Ranch
1969: Opening of the Pasadena Art Museum of Modern Art (now the Norton Simon Museum of Art)
1970 – Present
1970: Period of economic revitalization
1981: Proposal to erect two high rise towers in downtown Pasadena is defeated
1980 – 1990: further growth of Pasadena population with wider cultural diversity
1992: General Plan for Pasadena put in place to oversee the architectural development of Pasadena old town
1994: Pasadena escaped unscathed from Northridge earthquake
1998: Cynthia Kurtz become Pasadena's first female City Manager
1999: Pasadena’s first mayor, Bill Bogaard was elected
1970 – 2005: Caltech wins more than 31 Nobel Prizes
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