What makes this tour important? This tour not only looks good, it tastes good! Few places in L.A. County mix eye candy and ice cream quite like this Pasadena neighborhood. Bring your camera and bring your appetite!


Tour Starts: The Gold Line’s Memorial Park station, just two blocks from the core of Pasadena’s historic Old Town.

Tour Ends: Where it started, at the Memorial Park station. If you opt for the South Pasadena Side Trip, you can end your tour at that neighborhood’s Mission station on MTA’s Gold Line.

How to Get There: If you’re coming from any distance, there are 3 options:

  • By Rail: Take Metrorail! The tour starts at Pasadena’s Memorial Park station on MTA’s Gold Line. Colorado Boulevard, City Hall and Old Town are all an easy walk away. See http://www.metro.net/ for rail transit maps, fares, trip planner and station locations nearest to you. Metrolink and Amtrak trains provide easy connections to Metrorail via downtown’s Union Station. Once at Union Station you’re just 20 minutes (eight stops) from Pasadena on the Gold Line.
  • By Bus: See http://www.metro.net/ for bus transit maps, fares, trip planner and stops nearest you. Bus stops are directly in front of the Metrorail station.
  • By Car: For this tour, parking is plentiful but can be limited or expensive. Street parking can be tough to find on Colorado Boulevard and most areas restrict parking to two hours. Parking garages are a little pricey, even with validation. Free parking is an option in out-lying areas.
Optional Side Trips: There are five…
  1. Gamble House: 1-2 hours; a walking tour
  2. “Millionaires Row”: 1-2 hours; a walking tour
  3. Rose Bowl: 1 hour (via Pasadena ARTS bus)
  4. South Pasadena: 1-2 hours (via Metro Gold Line)
  5. “The Huntington”: 2-4 hours (via Pasadena ARTS bus)

How much Walking? Figure about 2.5 miles (excluding optional Side Trips) – all of it over flat terrain and often along deeply shaded streets.

 

All Side Trips, whether by walking or by shuttle bus, are best scheduled at the end of your tour. Here’s why: the walking Side Trips are relatively short and the longer ones cover the distances by shuttle bus or train, so you won’t be too tired to manage one after the main tour is over. Also, each is easy to begin in Old Town where the main tour ends.

  

Tour Cost: Nothing. You will, of course, pay extra for entrance to museums. The South Pasadena Side Trip incorporates train travel aboard the Gold Line but if you’ve purchased MTA’s Day Pass to get to/from this tour, your travel cost’s already covered. The Huntington Botanical Gardens incorporates bus travel on the Pasadena ARTS shuttle (75¢; 35¢ for seniors 60+) each way, plus admission.

When to Go: Most any day; most any time, weekday, weekend – there’s always plenty to do and see. Just be sure to allow time for lunch – or at least a snack along the way. Avoid Rose Parade Day (reserve that day for just the parade) and keep in mind that summers can be mighty hot along the boulevard, especially at mid-day. If you plan on visiting The Huntington, consider going on the “Free Day” – the first Thursday of the month. Advance reservations are required (and you can’t purchase regular admission tickets on the Free Day) so check here for more information.

Where to Eat: Click here for ideas and suggestions.

You Can Combine This Tour With: No other tour. When factoring in time for lunch or snacking, WalknRideLA‘s “Pasadena Adventure” (and maybe a Side Trip, too) can easily fill your day.

 

Some Background:

To read a brief outline on Pasadena’s history, click here.

 Like Los Angeles, it was water that brought people to Pasadena. For thousands of years Native Americans had settled within an easy walk of today’s Arroyo Seco (“dry stream”) whose source is the winter snows and rain of the San Gabriel Mountains. The stream’s flow was capricious, however, bringing winter floods yet in the late summer, its trickle sometimes never found its way to the Los Angeles River, much less the Pacific Ocean 25 beyond.

Still, it was that stream’s water that also attracted Spanish settlement in the late 1700s. With the Spanish came the Mission System (missions, presidios and pueblos) whereby natives were converted and promptly put to work growing food.

In the 1820s, following the Mexican Revolution, the missions were secularized. Still, life didn’t change much for the average inhabitant – fields continued to be plowed, cows milked, and crops harvested.

Anglos arrived in the 1870s, most of them from the state of Indiana, giving the town its first name: Indiana Colony. Still, despite the arrival of the “Hoosiers,” things didn’t change much.   

But big changes came with the arrival of the railroads in the 1880s. Almost overnight, Southern California’s agricultural bounty had regional and national markets. As farmers and ranchers shipped their oranges and cattle out on those rails, in came thousands of settlers lured by the promise of cheap land, a gentle climate and to some, a more progressive, easy-going lifestyle. Between 1886 – only one year after the railroad’s arrival – and 1888, Pasadena’s population jumped from 2,000 to 12,000 inhabitants.

A lot of money was made during those boom years and a good number of those early real estate tycoons and industrialists took a fancy to Pasadena, its environs and its weather. Beneath the majestic San Gabriel Mountains with panoramic vistas (the name “Pasadena” loosely derives from the Chippewa word meaning “of the valley”) the town became known as a winter resort for the vacationing rich and famous. Pasadena was sort of the “Palm Beach of the West,” but with mountains instead of beaches. Magnificent hotels went up to house, feed and entertain the visiting industrialists and socialites. You’ll see one of them (a former hotel, that is) on this tour.

 It’s a Fact:

The name “Pasadena” didn’t derive from the indigenous natives, the Chumash. Nor did it stem from the Spanish language. Instead, it came by way of the Chippewa Native Americans some 2,000 miles distant. A resident chose English names incorporating the word “valley,” sent them east to the Chippewas, and back came the translations which included a very nice-sounding “Pa-sa-de-na.” A name was born!

It was the upscale Valley Hunt Club that decided to celebrate the winter warmth of Pasadena. So on January 1, 1890, they ran a procession of horses and carriages festooned in flowers – the beginning of what became the Tournament of Roses Parade. Soon, not just the rich and famous, but middle-class tourists found Pasadena to their liking, too.

As throughout the Southland, Pasadena’s growth slowed during the financially tight times of the Great Depression. But by the time World War II came and went, Pasadena had matured into an industrial and research center with electronic, jet propulsion and educational facilities its new economic mainstays. Jobs followed and with those jobs, increased population growth.

Pasadena has often been looked at as a suburb of Los Angeles and in many ways it is. Long before the Arroyo Seco Parkway – today’s Pasadena Freeway – opened on New Year’s Eve 1940 (the first limited access highway in the west) Pasadena’s homes had been closely connected to Los Angeles by streetcars. Those links enabled easy commutes into “the city.” But like Santa Monica and only a few other cities close-in to Los Angeles, Pasadena, with close to 150,000 residents, has been able to maintain a character and ambiance quite distinct from its much bigger neighbor. And therein lies its charm.

 

The Tour:

This is one of the most all-around satisfying tours on WalknRideLA‘s site.

One reason is that the city is so easy to navigate; most everything you’ll want to see is within a block or two of Pasadena’s main street: Colorado Boulevard. You’ll get lost now and then but you won’t care. Being lost here is always temporary and always an adventure.

Another reason is it’s such a good-looking place. A gorgeous City Hall, interesting shops and back-alley pubs in Old Town, handsome churches at every turn, tree-lined Green Street, a splendid shopping center and almost always – the backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains, often snow-capped in the winter.

And finally, there’s this: if your eyes don’t pull you in one direction or another, your nose will; few towns on earth offer the variety of coffee shops, restaurants, delis, and take-outs that this one does. To that, add the renown Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts – and its own restaurant, snack bar and deli smack dab in the middle of town.

So there you have it: easy to understand, good-looking and a great cook. “Pasadena Adventure” is quite the catch!

The tour begins like all WalknRideLA tours: a street-by-street, self-paced itinerary. You’ll hit the highlights: City Hall; picturesque parks, plazas and churches; a cooking school; a playhouse; some museums and plenty of interesting shops, coffee houses and restaurants. Then we set you loose in Old Town where you’re on your own – as you should be. But we’ll point out some important sights in the area and leave it to you to wander as you see fit.

1. Memorial Park Station. MTA Gold Line, 2003.

Before leaving the station, check out the painted aluminum sculpture above the platform (“The First Artists in Southern California: A Short Story,” John Valadez, 2003).

The station takes its name from the park beside it: Memorial Park, dedicated on Memorial Day 1906 to honor Civil War veterans. You’ll have a chance to explore the park later in the tour.

–> Exit the platform to the street.

Once at street level, you’ll be standing at the corner of Arroyo Parkway and North Holly Street, two blocks north from Colorado Boulevard. Old Town Pasadena – the city’s busy little shopping and dining neighborhood housed within early 20th century buildings – is just two blocks away, too.

Because you’ll likely do some wandering off the route provided, know this: Streets, avenues and boulevards are listed either North, South, East or West. Colorado Boulevard separates north from south and Fair Oaks (a few blocks to the east of he station) divides east from west.

Keep in mind there are some great Side Trips waiting at the end of the tour so check them over before you go much further; you might want to pace yourself and watch your time if you plan to take one on.  

–> Cross Arroyo Parkway and continue up Holly Street towards City Hall. 

City Hall should be in your view up at the end of Holly Street.

On the left, you can’t help notice the stone, English Gothic-style building knitted by dense ivy. Stained glass windows peak through the ivy. A former church? No, this quaint little complex opened its doors in 1922 as the Turner and Stevens Mortuary (Marston and Van Pelt, architects). the attractive gallery and inner courtyard are worth a peak, and check out the decorative metal doors, too.  

At the top of the hill, on the corner of of Holly Street and Marengo Avenue is the first of many church buildings on the walking tour: the First Baptist Church (Carleton Winslow and Frederick Kennedy, 1925). Winslow had a hand in the design of L.A.’s Central Library. The architectural style is Italian Romanesque and its bell tower competes with City Hall’s dome as an area landmark.

If you want to take a peek inside (those stained glass windows can only be appreciated from inside and there’s a beautiful ceiling to take in, too) enter via the “Church Office” entrance courtyard to the left of the main entrance on Marengo Avenue.

–> Cross Marengo Avenue and continue on Holly Street to Garfield Avenue.

On the corner immediately to the right at #78 N. Margengo Avenue (opposite the church) is the former YWCA. Designed by Julia Morgan in an ultra-subdued Mediterranean style and completed in 1922, it’s not considered one of her better accomplishments. But then again, it’s tough competing with the likes of Hearst Castle and the Los Angeles Examiner Building. Julia Morgan was selected to design YWCAs throughout California, Hawaii, Arizona and Utah. The City of Pasadena owns the building today, though its future renovationa and use (it’s a huge structure) is on hold.

The YMCA on the left dates back to 1910 (Arthur Benton) and was updated in 1926 by the architectural firm Marston and Van Pelt. Among the busiest design team in town, they also designed the mortuary you passed earlier.

–> Continue down Holly Street to Garfield Avenue.

Garfield Avenue marks the north/south axis of Pasadena’s “City Beautiful” design scheme. Holly Street marks its east/west axis, placing City Hall at the top center of the “T.” During the 1920s, cities throughout the country vied to update (or create) their civic centers with monumental edifices and broad boulevards. You’re at the epicenter of this city’s grand design: the Library to the north, the Civic Auditorium to the south, City Hall at the east and Holly Street extending to the west.

You should be able to see the Paseo Colorado shopping center two blocks away to the right, and beyond it, the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. A total redesign of the shopping center a decade ago knocked down the enclosed mall replacing it with an outdoor pedestrian mall. Though cars can’t travel the distance, your eyes can, bringing Garfield Avenue closer to the planner’s original grand design. There’s more on that grand design (and the Paseo Colorado) coming up.

–> At Garfield Avenue, turn left, walking up towards Walnut Street.

To the left, at #175, is the Los Angeles Gas & Electric Building (1929), the city’s Permit Center, with its distinctive rose and buff-colored panels between the second-story windows. The statue and fountain next to the building (“The Pasadena Way,” Doug and Regula Campbell, Robert Irwin, 1990) is worth a closer look, too.

To the right (north side) of fountain is the Pasadena Police Department Building (EKONA, 1990), fitting in comfortably with its more senior neighbors. Those embellishments above the arched entrance portico roof are called, “volutes” – in case you were wondering.

–> Cross Walnut Street to the Pasadena Library building.

2. Pasadena Central Public Library. 285 E. Walnut Street. Myron Hunt and H.C. Chambers, 1927.

Go on in through the courtyard and visit this Spanish Renaissance-styled library’s interior. The architects worked together on at least one other significant structure: Henry Huntington’s home – today’s home to the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens – an optional tour Side Trip, if you’re interested. Myron Hunt also designed Pasadena’s Rose Bowl, also a tour Side Trip.

The restored library offers its original oak panelling and wrought iron furniture. Exterior looks can be deceiving; there are four floors to this library. Situated here at the top of Garfield Avenue, the library marked the northern axis of Pasadena’s new “City Beautiful” Civic Center. When you leave, take in the view south to the Civic Auditorium, at the Center’s southern tip. It’s a view city planners wanted you to enjoy.

–> Retrace your steps back on Garfield Avenue and cross Holly Street.

On the corner to the right is a small park which includes the Robinson Memorial (Ralph Helmick, John Outterbridge and Stuart Schechter, 2002). Jackie Robinson was the first African American to break baseball’s color barrier when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. His older brother Matthew “Mack” Robinson was a track star and took home a silver medal in the 200-meter at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin (Jesse Owens bested him by a mere 0.4 seconds). Both were from Pasadena.

It’s a Fact:

Though only about nine miles from downtown Los Angeles, Pasadena’s winter weather is notably wetter and cooler due to its closeness to the San Gabriel Mountains. The city averages 21 inches of precipitation a year, 6 more than Los Angeles. And whereas downtown L. A. has never recorded measurable snowfall, Pasadena has, the most from a January 11, 1949 storm that left 6 inches of the wet stuff atop City Hall.

–> Cross Garfield Avenue to the Pasadena City Hall.

3. Pasadena City Hall. 100 N. Garfield Avenue. John Bakewell and Arthur Brown, 1927.

Two days late, but what a Christmas present! Pasadena’s showpiece City Hall opened December 27, 1927, its design influenced by a blend of 16th century Renaissance architecture and the popular California Mediterranean style of the 1920s. The building offers six stories of city offices within 235 rooms; its total height soars to 206 feet – about the height of a 20-story building. A three-year seismic retrofit and renovation was completed in 2007, the latter earning the building it’s “green” LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) designation.

You’ll have free access to three of the building’s floors so go on in and check it out. You may be competing for photo-ops with others – it’s a favored location for wedding pictures and filming (it currently doubles as the City Hall in the television series “Parks and Recreation“). An interior courtyard with an attractive baroque fountain, crushed granite walkways, flower gardens and Calfornia live oak trees make it a popular spot for city workers at lunch, too.

Don’t just look; do a little exploring while you’re here. Elevator access is provided to the third floor but while roaming public areas, please keep in mind this is a functioning City Hall. The marble steps in the stairways came all the way from Alaska, the dome is clad in Cordova tile, fish-scale fashion. Pasadena’s City Hall and the entire Civic Center District surrounding it are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

–> Continue through the courtyard and out to Euclid Avenue. Cross Euclid Avenue.

4. All Saints Episcopal Church. 132 N. Euclid Avenue. Johnson, Kaufman and Coate, 1927.

Small by Pasadena standards, this little English “Country Gothic” church is a gem. Southern California stone forms the building; Vermont slate tops its roof, Tiffany and Judson Studio stained glass enrich the windows and inside, art tiles designed and produced by Pasadena’s own Ernest Batchelder, grace the aisles. The Rectory and outbuildings were designed by Bennett and Haskell and date from 1930.

You’re welcomed to go inside (access is usually via the main, front enrance); allow yourself some time to acclimate your eyes in the vestibule’s darkness before moving around too much. Click here for an architectural tour of the church. 

Euclid Avenue, Pasadena, California is named after Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio.

–> Enter the “Plaza las Fuentes,” the mid-block courtyard just to the right of the All Saints Episcopal Church.

5. Plaza las Fuentes. Between Euclid and Los Robles Avenues. Lawrence Halprin, 1990.

Mr. Halprin’s work is all over the country (Seattle World’s Fair, San Francisco’s Ghiradelli Square, Portland’s (OR) Ira Keller Fountain, Washington D.C.’s FDR Memorial and downtown L.A.’s Bunker Hill Steps and Central Library. The plaza continues the Civic Center’s east/west axis providing a pedestrian mall running from Euclid to Los Robles Avenues; a north/south portion runs up to the Westin Hotel.

Lunchtime is reasonably busy here – there are several restaurants facing onto the plaza – but it’s otherwise fairly neglected. That’s too bad because it’s a delightful place to stroll or sit. Michael Lucaro did the sculptural fountains (“Dreamer with Fish Fountain,” and others; Joyce Kozloff the floral tile walls (“Pasadena, the City of Roses” and Ernest Batchelder the tile fireplace. All except Batchelder’s work (you’ll be seeing a lot of his work on this tour) date from 1990.      

–> Continue through the plaza to North Los Robles Avenue.

To the left, up Los Robles Avenue, is the First Congregational Church. This is the church’s third location. Their first, in 1887, was at the corner of Pasadena and California Avenues near today’s Huntington Memorial Hospital. As Pasadena grew, so grew the church and within 20 years the congregation moved eastward to the corner of Marengo Avenue and Green Street near today’s Paseo Colorado shopping center.

The present English Gothic building (Brockway and Patterson, Architects) opened on Easter Sunday, 1928. Leon Brockway’s forte was designing private homes in toney sections of town but he also had his hand in commercial structures. Patterson’s forte was churches.

“Los Robles” translates from Spanish as “the Oaks.” George Stoneman, a Civil War General and later (1883-1887) the Governor of California, owned a 400-acre Pasadena ranch called “Los Robles.” The ranch was located at the southern terminus of the avenue.

As Quoted…”Virgil Caine is the name, and I served on the Danville train, till Stoneman’s cavalry came and tore up the tracks again.” Song lyrics from “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” written by Robbie Robertson, 1969, performed by The Band

–>Turn right and walk down Los Robles to the corner at Union Street.

–> Cross Union Street, turn left and cross Los Robles to the corner.

6. Pacific Asia Museum. 46 North Los Robles Avenue. Marston, Van Pelt & Maybury, 1925

Just beyond the parking lot is the is the Pacific Asia Museum. The building you see was a residence completed for Grace Nicholson, someone who obviously had a penchant for Asian art and culture. Actually, Ms. Nicholson occupied only a small apartment upstairs; her building was devoted almost entirely to her art galleries which showcased Asian and American Indian art objects she’d collected over the years.

The roof tiles, bronze and copper work, and the stone and marble carvings you see were all imported from China. The entrance leads into a courtyard and within the courtyard, a small Chinese Garden with a koi pond crossed by a zig-zag bridge.

Following Grace Nicholson’s death 1948 the house served as the Pasadena Art Museum. When that museum moved to Orange Grove and Colorado Boulevards in 1970 (renaming itself the Norton Simon Museum in the process) the Pacific Asia Museum opened here a year later.

The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays; an admission fee applies but entrance is free on the fourth Friday of the month. Click here for more information on the Pacific Asia Museum.

7. Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA). 490 E. Union Street. Johnson Favaro Architecture, 2001.

If you’d like to check it out (or at least its entry artwork), look for that entrance about half a block down Union Street. It’s within a street-level parking garage on the right. If you see the “cyclops eye” pictured here at left in Kenny Scharf’s “Kosmic Krylon,” (2003), you’re there. Exhibitions vary and often focus not just on works by California artists, but the works of Pasadena-area talent. Recent examples include photos taken by JPL’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, an exhibition of Millard Sheets (a local and very prolific painter) and architectural photos of Pasadena brothers Charles and Harry Greene.

Current exhibitions are almost always advertised on banners outside the museum; if something appeals to you, go on in. The PMCA is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays; an admission fee applies but the museum is free on the first Friday of each month. Or, visit this musuem first and you’ll get 50% off at the Pacific Asia Museum and vice versa. Click here for more information about the PMCA.

–> Return to the Pacfic Asia Museum on Los Robles Avenue, turn left and walk to the corner at Colorado Boulevard.

 

Here it is: Colorado Boulevard – Pasadena’s main street! It’s also “Main Street” for millions of American TV viewers each New Year’s Day (or the Monday after New Year’s if the holiday falls on a Sunday).  That’s when the boulevard is turned over to the Tournament of Roses Parade. Typically, about 700,000 parade-goers line the route; television brings in about 75 million more.

If you look closely, you may be able to spot the rose-red line painted down the middle of the boulevard. That’s the “center line” tracked by the floats, marching bands and equestrians that travel the 5.5-mile route; all but a  mile of it on Colorado Boulevard.

The parade assembles on Orange Grove Boulevard in front of the Tournament House – headquarters for the tournament and the former home of William Wrigley of chewing gum fame. From there it heads a few blocks north to Colorado Boulevard, makes a sharp right turn and continues east on the boulevard to Sierra Madre Boulevard where it turns left and ends a few blocks later. You’re standing at about the “one-third” point of the 2.5-hour parade.

It’s a Fact: Tournament of Roses Trivia…

  • The first Tournament of Roses Parade was staged by Pasadena’s Valley Hunt Club in 1890. A “tournament” of polo matches, races and tug-of-war followed the parade.
  • The first Rose Bowl game took place in 1923 in the city’s new stadium. USC beat Penn State 14-3.
  • Over 1,000 young women compete each year to be crowned the Rose Queen.
  •  The Rose Queen must be a Pasadena-area, full-time student between the ages of 17 and 21, never married and childless.
  • Shirley Temple (or Shirley Temple Black) was the parade’s Grand Marshall in 1939, 1989 and 1999.
  • A dummy (Charlie McCarthy – and his operator Edgar Bergen) were co-Grand Marshalls in 1940; a frog (Kermit) in 1996; and a mouse (Mickey) in 2005.
  •  It has rained on this parade 10 times: 1895, 1899, 1906, 1910, 1916, 1922, 1934, 1937, 1955 and 2006.
  • The parade was first filmed in 1900; first aired on radio in 1926; first telecast in 1947; first “color-cast” in 1954; first satellite broadcast in 1968.

You’re not just looking at Colorado Boulevard – you’re looking at the “Mother Road”: Route 66. Back in 1926, in an effort to link farm towns with big cities, the federal government set to work building a paved highway linking Chicago and Los Angeles. The Great Depression got in the way but by 1938 the U.S. had its highway, 2,300 miles of it.

The route of the route changed over the years, though always following this portion of the boulevard. At one time it turned left at Fair Oaks Boulevard (about a half mile down to the right) and then headed south for Los Angeles. Later Route 66 crossed the Colorado Street Bridge and then followed Figueroa Street to L.A. Still later, it turned left at Arroyo Parkway just a few blocks from here, and then on into Los Angeles via the newly-completed Arroyo Seco Parkway (aka the Pasadena Freeway).

Diagonally across the street to the right is the open-air shopping center you saw earlier, the Paseo Colorado. Anchored by Macy’s here on the corner, the mall extends two blocks to the west (right) to Gelson’s. In between is an Arclight Cinemas complex and over 60 shops and restaurants. It’s a mixed-use project; apartments overlook the shops.

We’ll skip the Paseo Colorado for now because you’ll be coming back that way before we let you loose in Old Town.

Check out the storefront at Linden Optometry (#477). The Art Deco freize dates from 1927, the year this, the Warner Building (Marston and Maybury) was completed. If you’re into these things you might recall that Marston had a hand in Grace Nicholson’s home, the Pacific Asia Museum. (The image at left shows the building when it was considerably newer with its entire freize of shells and flowers intact.) If you’re having trouble seeing the detail above the awning, you’re at the right place – go on inside and get some glasses.

Look across the street. Yep, another church. Pasadena’s urban core never attained the commercial density of say, downtown Los Angeles – itself not especially dense as cities go. For this reason, commerce didn’t push most Pasadena churches and temples to the periphery as it did in downtown L.A.

This one, the First United Methodist Church (Thomas Barber, 1927) is impressive – and large. Totalling almost 100,000 square feet, the property includes the English Gothic church, offices, fellowship rooms and three libraries. An attractive courtyard separates the entrance from the boulevard.

The stained glass windows are the work of the Los Angeles firm, Roy C. Baillie Studios. For a closer look, go ahead and cross the boulevard. If open, go on inside; the curved pews and vaulted ceiling are of special note.

–> Continue down Colorado Boulevard, crossing Oakland Avenue.

Can you smell that? It’s a good smell – you’re standing before a culinary school.

8. Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. 525 E. Colorado Boulevard. Joseph Blick, 1925.

The school opened their doors in Pasadena in 1994, but not at this location. They still have kitchens and classrooms at their original Green Street location but recently took over all four floors of the building, significantly expanding their operation here.

First, about the building they occupy. The solid-looking Beaux-Arts structure (Joseph J. Blick, architect) opened as the new headquarters for the Star News Publishing Company – a Pasadena paper – in 1925. Walk around front and you can see that name over the entrance archway.

The newspaper began publishing in 1884 and they still put out a paper every day, though they now live at 911 E. Colorado Boulevard, about six blocks east of here. In the late 1990s Glabman Furniture moved in when the paper moved out but when they consolidated their operation to West Los Angeles, Le Cordon Bleu slapped on their name – and those handsome dark blue awnings – and moved in.

Here, Le Cordon Bleu has kitchens and classrooms but most important for you, they’ve also got a restaurant and a deli (a cookstore recently closed) open Monday through Friday. Through windows created for the curious, you watch students dicing and slicing. So if it’s a weekday, go on in and check out the operation. They make and bake what they sell at the Technique Restaurant. There’s a casual deli here, too.

On the corner across the street from the culinary school is the Singer Building (Everett P. Babcock and William C. Clarke, 1926), a small but striking building done in a handsome Spanish Revival style. Cross the street to get a better look at the tile, grillwork and terra cotta touches, if you’d like.

Pasadena counts just over 100 sites on the National Register of Historic Places – this is one. To underscore the wealth of history and architectural significance here in town, consider this: Los Angeles, with more than 28 times the population of Pasadena, has only twice the number of listed sites. The building depicted here was painted by artist Tony Peters from his own images and a vintage photo dating from about 1930. The building in the background included, as the sign states, a furniture store. The furniture store is gone and most of the ground floor are devoted to Le Cordon Bleu’s bookstore.

Next door to the culinary school is a rarity in Pasadena’s downtown: a “modern” church. The Presbyterian Church (John Gougeon, 1976) is the newest church building on or near this stretch of the boulevard. The 1971 Sylmar quake forced demolition of the main, 1908 church, though adjacent church structures remain. But the congregation managed to salvage the church organ. For fans of such things, theirs is an Aeolian-Skinner, opus 1131 built in 1961 with 111 ranks and 6,366 pipes. There you have it!

–> Continue on Colorado Boulevard to Madison Avenue.

How are your shoes holding up on your walk? Across the street is a shoe repair place that’s been re-soling and re-heeling for almost 100 years. It’s part of the same building with the “School Supply” sign.

9. United Artist Theatre. 606 E. Colorado Blvd. Walker and Eisen, with C. A. Balch, 1931.

Look closly at the striking, Art Deco theatre and you may be able to make out the words “Unity” and “Artistry” on the façade, words often used to mark United Artists theatres back in the 1930s. Albert Walker and Percy Eisen worked together for years, completing over two dozen Los Angeles-area buildings. Their best-known are the Fine Arts Building and the Oviatt Building in downtown Los Angeles. Clifford Balch was a theatre architect; his works include the Hollywood, El Rey and Fox Pomona Theatres, most of them in the Art Deco style.

Multiple “modernizations” inside and out have changed the look of the theatre considerably; the interior has been almost totally gutted and little remains from its early days. But today’s exterior is looking far closer to the original than a few decades back. Below are three pictures: 1946, 1981 and 2011.

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–> Cross Madison Avenue and continue to El Molino Avenue.

Theatre marques were built to attract pedestrians. They grew taller and often morphed into beacons as they attempted to catch the eyes of speeding motorists. Another way to attract customers was to erect over-the-top, sometimes bizarre structures that no motorist, no matter how fast they were cruising, could miss. The region had hats (Brown Derby), hot dogs (Tale o’ the Pup, Donuts (Donut Hole), windmills (Van de Kamps) and bowls (Chili Bowl). Pasadena didn’t miss the trend. They had a shoe – the Mother Goose Pantry erected in 1927 here on Colorado Boulevard – about 15 blocks east from where you stand. By various accounts, the shoe got the boot sometime in the 1930s.

As Quoted…

“And everybody’s saying that there’s nobody meaner

Than the little old lady from Pasadena

She drives real fast and she drives real hard

She’s the terror of Colorado Boulevard

It’s the little old lady from Pasadena!”

– Lyrics to “The Little Old Lady From Pasadena” by Jan and Dean, 1964

10. Bank of the West (formerly the First Trust Bank Building). 595 E. Colorado Blvd. Bennett and Haskell, 1928.

The 9-story Beaux-Arts Renaissance Revival building on the corner at your left is one of the biggest on the boulevard. It’s believed to be Pasadena’s first “earthquake resistant” building (notice nobody said “earthquake proof”). Like the Singer Building, this one is on the list of National Register of Historic Places.

If you’re visiting during banking hours, go on in and check out the murals by Giovanni Smeraldi who also, incidentally, did work at downtown L.A.’s Millennium Biltmore Hotel, the Vatican and the White House. There are four 10-foot-tall paintings by Pasadena’s own Impressionist artist Alson Clark inside, too. Each depicts a regiona l industry: film, shipping, oil and citrus.

–> Turn right at El Molino, crossing Colorado Boulevard. Continue down El Molino Avenue.

El Molino, like so many of Pasadena’s side streets and avenues, invites some exploration. You’re headed for the playhouse, half-way down the block, but before and beyond that venue are interesting shops you may want to look into more closely.

11. Pasadena Playhouse. 39 S. El Molono Avenue. Elmer Grey, 1925

 

With a growing population of well-heeled residents it was only a matter of time before Pasadena, founded in 1886, had a proper playhouse. Founded in 1917, by 1925 the city had this elegant if small (684 seats, compared with several Los Angeles theatres with 2,000 + capacity), Spanish Colonial Revival charmer.  Despite its size, the Pasadena Playhouse quickly became the little engine that could, becoming the first playhouse in the United States to perform every Shakespeare play (all 37 of them!) on the same stage – this within just 12 years of its opening.

A good number of noted Hollywood actors cut their teeth here on El Molino Avenue: Eve Arden, Charles Bronson, Raymond Burr, Ruth Buzzi, Jamie Farr, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, William Holden, Carolyn Jones, Rue McClanahan, Leonard Nimoy, Tyrone Power, Barbara Rush, Sally Struthers, Gloria Stuart, Jo Anne Worley and Robert Young among them, thanks to its excellent, though long ago closed, school of theatre arts.

Alumni aside, the playhouse has struggled, falling into bankruptcy twice –  once in 1969 (when it sat vacant for 17 years) and again in 2010. Back on its feet again, the playhouse is taking it one season at a time. The theatre, as well as the Pasadena Playhouse Historic District (you’ve probably already seen the signs) are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

As Quoted[The Pasadena Playhouse is a]…”theatrical refreshment in this dust bowl, if not desert, of the legitimate stage, which has been sucked dry by the gigantic growth of its next-door neighbor, Hollywood” – Tempe E. Allison, in a New York Times article from 1937

–> Continue down El Molino Avenue to Green Street and turn right.

Take a moment to look at the storefront here at the corner at El Molino and Green. Does the ceramic tile design above the door  look familiar? Pasadena has long been a center of art tile production (Ernest Batchelder’s home and facilities were here in Pasadena) and you’ll see works by him and others all over town. We don’t know who designed and installed this work but we do know the building’s history. It was once a Cadillac dealership and this is the Cadillac logo – in still-vivid ceramic tile – above the door. Notice too, that the building’s windows, now showcasing flowers, are big enough to drive a car through – which the dealer did.

Incidentally, those ducks are “merlettes” and their arrangemment in trios represents the Holy Trinity. Their black color represents wisdom and the gold background in which they float signifies wealth. It’s all part of the Cadillac family’s coat of arms. Le Sieur Antoine De La Mothe Cadillac, a Frenchman, founded Detroit (the “Motor City”) in 1701.

It’s a Fact:

Wealth, proximity to downtown Los Angeles and an ever-growing expansion of streets and boulevards were certain factors in Pasadena’s early love affair with the automobile. By 1915 the city claimed one car for every four residents – more than any other city in the world. (The U.S. average at the time was one car for every 43 inhabitants.)

Green Street makes for a nice, tree-lined, quaint and quiet walk – save for rush hour traffic on the signal-synchronized road. Interesting storefronts, signage and window displays encourage snooping so take your time as you head back towards Old Town Pasadena. You’ll find some excellent restaurants along the way, too.

–> Continue walking west along Green Street, crossing Madison Avenue. Continue to Oakland Avenue.

On the right stands the impressive First Church of Christ, Scientist (architect unknown). Its excellent condition belies its age – Pasadena’s Christian Scientist church is in its second century. When erected in 1910, the Classical Revival’s gleaming white structure stood out above all others in town – the largest building in the city.

A recent seismic upgrade was completed ensuring that the church’s massive, reinforced concrete dome stays just where it is. If you know your classical capital styles you’ll know this building’s are iconic Ionic!

–> Cross Oakland Avenue and continue on Green Street to Los Robles Avenue.

Notice that the Paseo Colorado shopping center is back in view. Macy’s anchors the center’s eastern flank.

–> Cross Los Robles Avenue and then cross Euclid Avenue. Continue to the Pasadena Convention Center.

12. Pasadena Convention Center – Civic Auditorium. 300 E. Green Street. Bergstrom, Bennett and Haskell, 1932

Over its 80+ year history, the 3,000-seat Civic Auditorium has hosted the Prime Time Emmy Awards, the People’s Choice Awards, Broadway musicals, symphony orchestras and its here, each year, where the Rose  Queen Ceremonies are held. Convention-goers have it easy here with two major hotels, the Sheraton and the Hilton within easy walks.

Pasadena has just completed a $150 million expansion of the Pasadena Convention Center.  The main Exhibit Hall totals 55,000 square feet of exhibit space and the East Pavillion adds another 27,000 square feet. Plus, there’s a Ballroom, a two-level Conference Center and the belle of them all: the Civic Auditorium.

It’s a Fact:

An entire week – a “Dedication Week” – was devoted to the Pasadena Civic Auditorium’s opening. During the week of February 15th to February 21st, 1932, the public was invited to speeches, plays, concerts, drill teams, lectures, folk dances, pageants, sports and acrobatic exhibitions, movies and even a circus. Boy Scouts volunteered as guides to the new facilities.

–> From in front of the Civic Auditorium, cross Green Street and enter the Paseo Colorado shopping center.

13. Paseo Colorado. E. Colorado Boulevard between Marengo and Los Robles Avenues. Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut and Kuhn, 2001

As we mentioned earlier in the tour, the view through the center and on to City Hall is virtually unobstructed, just as the earlier “City Beautiful” plans called for in the 1920s. That changed when Garfield Avenue was filled in by a new, enclosed shopping center (Pasadena Plaza) in 1980. Garfield’s back, now as a pedestrian mall and isn’t the view from here great? City Hall is just up a block or two and beyond it, the San Gabriel Mountains.

The center, much like Tinseltown’s Hollywood & Highland Center had a tough go of it at first. Certainly there was the issue of timing. Opening within days of 9/11 the open-air mall’s high-end shops suffered and some eventually closed. Tourism, local and international, dropped everywhere in the States, Paseo Colorado included. A saving component was the center’s ArcLight Theatre complex (though other theatres in the area suffered). The center also includes a residential component, the Terraces at Paseo Colorado, an apartment complex of market-rate studios, one- and two-bedroom homes.

Paseo Colorado is still facing some challenges. Its scorecard is helped by those theatres and a good mix of restaurants (upper level), the little fountain in front of Macy’s (pictured above), and its overall look and layout. Bringing it down are the limited mix of stores and the parking cost and confusion down below – something you don’t care about, anyway. (We’d add that maybe a few trees could’ve been planted here and there?)

–> Continue to the center plaza of the Paseo Colorado.

Wander where you want but come back here to “The Roses” before continuing the tour.

As you wander the center, know that the mosaic roses and city scenes (image at right) “Pasadena Panorama,” is the work of Margaret Nielsen; the center’s decorative railings are the work of Michael Amesqua, assisted by Rudy Gerado; and the mosaic tile fountain “In the Eye of the Beholder,” was done by Anne Marie Karlsen.

–> From “The Roses” walk out to the sidewalk on Colorado Boulevard. Turn left and continue west on the boulevard.

Notice that the residential component that rises above the center matches surrounding buildings on the boulevard, both in scale and roof lines. And don’t miss the entrance to Gelson’s market on the left. The building is gone but the intricate façade remains.

–> Continue towards the corner of Colorado Boulevard and Marengo Avenue.

14. Pacific Southwest Trust & Savings Building. 230 E. Colorado Boulevard. Curlett and Beelman, 1923.

The corner building, the former Pacific Southwest Trust & Savings Building, is a Renaissance Revival structure designed in the Beaux-Arts form. Of its two architects, Claud Beelman is probably better-known, most likely because it was his hand that designed the iconic green, blue and gold Art Deco beauty in downtown Los Angeles: The Eastern Columbia Building.

Beaux-Arts was embraced by the “City Beautiful” movement sweeping the nation at the turn of the last century. From Pittsburg to Pasadena, what better way to salute the growth and accomplishments of a city than by engaging Greek, Roman and Italian Renaissance themes – the favored architectural themes of the Beaux-Arts trend?

Not really an architectural “style” but rather an organizational scheme, Beaux-Arts buildings typically exhibit three distinct sections – a “tripartite” design analagous to a Greek column: a base, a shaft and a capital. Looking across Colorado Boulevard is another Beaux-Arts structure (this one in Neo-Classical dress).

15. Citizens Bank Building. 225 E. Colorado Blvd. John Parkinson and G. Edwin Bergstrom, 1914.

With these two buildings as your models, see if you can identify the tripartite organization:

  1. A distinct and decorative “base” of one, two or three floors, typically adorned with arches and columns.
  2. A “shaft” of repetitive floors with modestly adorned windows, occasionally interrupted with non-functional but ornate “Romeo & Juliet balconies (the Pacific Southwest Bank has one; the Citizens Bank doesn’t).
  3. A “capital” of one or two floors distinguished by a heavy use of ornamentation and a decorative, protruding cornice that accentuates the building’s flat roof.

Of the Citizens Bank Building’s two architects, John Parkinson is the best known, having designed or participated in the design of dozens of Los Angeles structures – most of which remain with us. Bullocks Wilshire, L.A. City Hall and Union Station are probably his most cited accomplishments. We don’t know the designer of the building’s corner clock but we but we do know it’s unusual: it’s big and it still works! The clock wasn’t part of the original structure; it was added in 1926 and restored in 1980.

–> Cross Colorado Boulevard to the former Citizens Bank Building.

The Crown Building, the two-story building just up from the “clock” building, at #32-38 N. Marengo, was built in 1907 (C. F. Driscoll). An Art Deco terra cotta façade was added in 1928 by Leon Brockway, a local architect who partnered in the design of the First Congregational Church you saw earlier.

The word “crown” finds its way into a lot of Pasadena establishments because the city is situated at the top, or “crown” of the valley, giving rise to the nickname, “Crown City”.

To the right of the “clock” building (#231-243 Colorado Blvd.) is a two-story Art Deco structure dating from 1928. Architect Garrett Van Pelt designed the 6-bay building and though it’s not on the scale of its neighbor, you can appreciate some of the distinct changes delivered by the emerging Art Deco movement. Facades are cleaner, columns become stylized, protruding piers, arches become angular and ornamentation becomes geometric. Be sure to check out the fifth bay in the building – it exemplifies Art Deco design.

–> Turn left and cross Marengo Avenue and continue down Colorado Boulevard towards Arroyo Parkway.

The plaza to the right is named for Frank N. Rush, a former VP of Telephone Operations in Southern California. Above it stands the third tallest building in Pasadena, the 197-foot, 12-story AT&T Building, completed in 1970. For the record, the tallest structure in the city (including its statue-topped dome) is the 206-foot-tall City Hall. The second-tallest is the 200-foot Parsons Company Building on W. Walnut Street just up from Old Town. The AT&T Building can be described as fitting the Corporate International style of architecture which had its European roots planted as far back as the 1920s but truly bloomed worldwide in the 1950s. See the Parsons Company Tower (#29) for more about the Corporate International style.

–> Continue down to Arroyo Parkway.

16. Arroyo Parkway.

The intersection of Colorado Boulevard (once a “street) and Arroyo Parkway (once called “Broadway”) roughly marked the eastern end of Pasadena’s downtown core. A 1920s population boom pushed commercial development eastward up the hill you just walked down as the city grew from 45,000 to over 76,000 inhabitants in that single decade.

Commercial expansion to the west was inhibited by the deep Arroyo Seco ravine so as the city added its City Hall, Library, Civic Auditorium and other municipal buildings a few blocks on the east, the rest of downtown followed. Construction of the Colorado Street Bridge in 1913 sparked residential growth to the west, however, and also improved vehicular links to downtown Los Angeles. That tighter, more direct link (though rail service had connected Pasadena to Los Angeles since 1885) encouraged further growth.

Arroyo Parkway ends just two blocks to the right. But to the left (south) the parkway continues about a dozen blocks before it morphs into the Pasadena Freeway (aka the Arroyo Seco Parkway). It was the first limited access highway in the West, opening on New Year’s Eve, 1940.

A recent landscaping of Arroyo Parkway spruced up what had become a tired-looking stretch of road. The spruce-up included the planting of 216 stately Phoenix Dactylifera (date palms) from here to the freeway’s entrance.  It wasn’t the first time the street has been spruced up; like  Colorado Boulevard it was widened in the late 1920s and bestowed its new name then, too.

17. Old Town Pasadena (eastern “gateway”).

“Old Town” Pasadena is a small, easy-to-walk district roughly bounded by Arroyo Parkway on the east (where you’re standing) to Pasadena Avenue on the west – just four blocks further along Colorado Boulevard. Del Mar Boulevard, a few blocks to the left, marks its southern boundary and Walnut Street, just three blocks to the north, marks the north side.

Click here to see a map of Old Town.

Although Pasadena was founded as an agricultural community, it still needed the small-town trappings of civilization: a post office, a general store or two, a blacksmith, and so on. Here, in Old Town, is where the early settlers placed those early buildings.

Pasadena outgrew “Old Town,” spreading eastward along the boulevard during the 1920s and 1930s. By the late-1940s Lake Avenue, which crosses Colorado almost a mile east of Fair Oaks, had become the fashionable shopping district. Pasadena, like nearby Los Angeles, effectively “abandoned” its older downtown as a new center emerged. Old Town became Pasadena’s “Skid Row.”

But here’s the twist: the decline and decay of Old Town had an upside – an upside only appreciated decades later. Had Pasadena’s downtown core remained here within this old neighborhood it’s likely little would be left as modern structures replaced the old under the call for “urban revelopment” (see below under “Parsons Company Tower”). Instead, the buildings were left largely intact and years later were “re-discovered” becoming the historic foundation that makes “Old Town” the draw it is today.

–> Crossing Arroyo Parkway places you at the eastern edge of Old Town.

While admiring the old buildings lining the boulevard, know this: little of what you see from the street pre-dates 1928. Some may look older but they aren’t. While Old Town isn’t a theme park street of contrived quaintness, just about every building along this stretch of Colorado Boulevard lost its face when the boulevard was widened – about 14 feet on each side – in the late 1920s. A few structures saved their fronts, putting them back in place after  after the reduction was complete but most date from about 1929 or later.

The street improvements were part of a modernization process designed to alleviate congestion on the street and bring it more in line with the newer and wider eastern extension of the boulevard. Pedestrians, cars, trucks, delivery wagons and streetcar tracks all competed for space down the narrow street. Most merchants were convinced the congestion was pushing businesses – and their customers – up the hill to the newer sections of town, and so the improvements were approved.

Old Town’s new face job proved a little too little, a little too late. But it did spruce things up nicely for a time. While some buildings went with the “new look” of Art Deco, just as many retained traditional faces, adding architectural interest to the boulevard.

It’s a Fact:

The term “Art Deco” was actually coined in 1968, over forty years following the style’s emergence. Art Deco buildings of the late-1920s and 1930s were typically referred to as “modern” or “in the modern style” to differentiate them from the prevailing Beaux-Arts, Victorian, or Italianate styles.

OK, here’s how the “Pasadena Adventure” tour tackles Old Town:

  • We’ll move down Colorado from east to west, pointing out main attractions and historic buildings along the way.
  • Some of the most interesting sights are a block or more up or down the streets and avenues that cross Colorado (in order from Arroyo Parkway: Raymond, Fair Oaks, DeLacey, Pasadena). Venture up or down those cross streets as you see fit; all are clearly listed by their street number.
  • Use Colorado Boulevard and Fair Oaks Avenue as the axis of your mental compass. If the address has an “N” for north, it’s north of Colorado Blvd. “S” is for south. “E” and “W” extend out east and west from Fair Oaks Avenue.
  • Odd numbers are on the west and north sides; even to the east and south.
  • Buildings are identified by their historic or original names; current tenant names are shown within the (parentheses).
  • Don’t neglect the alleys and backstreets – in most cases they’re the most authentic areas of Old Town
  • Click here for a map of Old Town.

Side Trips (all of which originate and terminate here in Old Town) are listed at the very bottom of the tour.

OK, walking on Colorado Boulevard (choose either side – we suggest you pick one side and return back on the other) – here’s Old Town!

–> Cross Arroyo Parkway.  

18. Chamber of Commerce Building. 117 E. Colorado Blvd. Parkinson and Bergstrom, 1907.

This six-story structure makes a handsome entry to Old Town today but when it was first proposed skeptics feared it was pushing the eastern limits to downtown’s growth a bit too far. But after all, it was built for the Chamber of Commerce, Pasadena’s greatest business booster. As it turned out, the Chamber’s decision proved wise; within a decade or two Pasadena’s business district was creeping past this building and up the hill you just walked down.

This Beaux-Arts building (remember its components?) was also at the cutting edge of architectural styles with its bold, relatively clean lines. Keep in mind, in the first decade of the 1900s, most buildings in the area were still wooden Victorian-era structures. Clearly, Pasadena had arrived when the Chamber of Commerce Building, coming in at a whopping $200,000, opened its doors.

Be sure to look up to examine the detailing and subtle colors the architects employed here. You may recall that Parkinson and Bergstrom also corroborated on the Citizens Bank Building – the one with the clock on the corner you passed a short time ago.

The building is not as immense as it appears. Built years before central air-conditioning, architects designed office towers to make use of natural breezes to cool its occupants. Offices were “flow-through” with windows on the outside and transoms over internal doors to allow the movement of air into interior air shafts. This building is shaped something like a square donut, with an inside shaft (the “atrium” of the day). Others were more typically “L”-shaped, “H”-shaped or “E”-shaped – but all shaped to permit air (and light) to circulate.

The facade of the Richardson Block Building (Crossroads Trading Company and Choza Mama) dates from the street-widening times of the late 1920s but a newspaper notice of the early 1900s speaks of a “pressed brick” design – which is what you see here today. This is evidence that the original front was replicated (if not actually re-used) for the updated structure. While the central stairway portico is impressive, don’t miss the terra cotta frieze along the roofline. The building was completed in 1904 and was designed by Harry Ridgeway, one of the city’s busiest architects in its early years.

–> Continue walking to Raymond Avenue.

19. Union Savings Bank Building (AT&T). 85. E. Colorado Blvd. Dennis and Farwell, 1901; facade dates from 1929.

The building is said to be haunted – a distinction usually reserved for hotels. The story goes that the building was erected atop an old Spanish church where prisoners were jailed in basement catacombs. The catacombs were sealed off when the bank was built on the site but some years later, during a bank heist, three robbers used explosives to blow open the vault. Not only did they blow open the vault, they also re-opened the catacombs. Quickly surrounded by police, the robbers took off into the catacombs but were never seen again. Rumor had it they got lost within the catacombs, died there and that’s what accounts for the reports of strange sounds, odors and an occassional screams heard from below.

In 1929 when the city widened the boulevard, the bank’s front was cut back by the required 14 feet resulting in the elegant Art Deco façade you see today. During that reconstruction the catacombs were exposed and the remains of at least a dozen humans were found (maybe some dating from when the basement sat below a church). The skeletal remains were found scattered about, perhaps suggesting violent deaths or dismemberments. Following the widening project they re-sealed the rooms and passageways.

Years later, during sewer improvements, the catacombs were once again revealed and after a few construction cave-ins and the reported loss of  several construction workers, the sewer project was redirected around the site and the catacombs were once again sealed. To this day, people report that strange sounds and odors continue to emanate from the building’s basement. Know (or quietly ignore) this: when you stroll past the building you’re walking above those buried catacombs.

The Elk’s and the Knights of Columbus once occupied the upper floor offices of the building.

20. Kinney-Kendall Building. 65 E. Colorado Boulevard. Charles and Henry Greene, 1897.

‘Kinney’ is for Joseph N. Kinney, owner of the Pasadena Daily News. ‘Kendall’ is for Bela O. (“B. O.”) Kendall, a real estate entreprenuer and two-time president (1918, 1919) of the the Tournament of Roses. Together they had this three-story structure erected, one of the very few commercial buildings designed by Pasadena’s own Greene brothers. Charles and Henry Greene designed the craftsman-styled Gamble House (see the Side Trip: Gamble House).

Remodeled many times, almost nothing of the Greene brothers’ original design remains. But the image at right hints at the building’s earlier beauty. With its streetfront face stripped for the 1929 street widening project, it was a likely seen as an opportunity to “clean up” the 30-year-old design. The three frieze courses are gone, the windows have been altered and the cornice has been reduced. City codes required the addition of the fire escape, absent from the earlier design.

21. Vandervort Commercial Block. 32 S. Raymond Ave. Frank Hudson, 1894.

Pasadena businessman J. W. Vandervort chose Frank Hudson to design this nicely-organized, cream-colored bulding. Hudson also designed the since-demolished County Hall of Records in downtown Los Angeles and the still-standing Museum of Natural History building in Exposition Park, also in Los Angeles.

For decades #34 Raymond Avenue housed the Espresso Bar – home to a jukebox whose 1950s-early 60s song collection earned it “The Best Jukebox in LA” title numerous times. The bar was the familiar haunt of painters, filmmakers, writers, photographers and performers. The bar – always operating on a shoe string – closed when Old Town’s revival brought higher rents.

Tim Burton was an Espresso Bar regular when he worked at Disney and lived a few blocks away at  the Hotel Green. That Hotel Green/Vandervort link proved a strong one: Rudolph Valentino is believed to have rented a room upstairs where he’d schedule private dance lessons. His clientele were wealthy ladies vacationing at the hotel awaiting their divorce settlements. 

Click here to read more about he Espresso Bar’s history.

Parking Garages. Let’s face it: with some exceptions, among the ugliest designs to come off an architect’s drawing board are parking garages. The parking garages in Pasadena’s Old Town are among those exceptions. They’re not hallmarks of beauty but if you don’t notice them when you walk by, then maybe they’re hallmarks of disguise. All match their surrounding buildings in height and scale; most mimic the architectural styles of the neighborhood.

22. Castle Green. 99 S. Raymond Ave. Frederick L. Roehrig, 1898.

The building you see today is much as it looked in 1898. But what you don’t see is the original hotel building that together with this structure, formed the Hotel Green complex. That first section (a mostly wooden structure, designed by Strange and Carnicle) opened in 1889 on the east side of Raymond Avenue. It was eventually demolished in 1935 following a fire a few years earlier. All that remains of that original structure is the north-most portion of Stats, a floral and arts and crafts store.

An enclosed pedestrian bridge spanned Raymond Avenue connecting the two sections of the hotel (see the image at left). Only a small portion of that bridge remains – once hyped by publicists as “The Bridge of Sighs,” though it’s reported an understreet tunnel, long ago sealed up, still exists beneath the pavement. The “annex,” a later extension facing on Fair Oaks Avenue, was designed by John Parkinson.

The site was well-chosen, just a few blocks up from Pasadena’s railroad station at Del Mar Boulevard. By 1876, Southern Pacific tracks connected nearby Los Angeles to San Francisco and from there, to the east via the Transcontinental Railroad. But by 1885, tracks of the Atchinson, Topeka and the Santa Fe route – direct from the east – stopping here in Pasadena on route to Los Angeles. Almost every Hotel Green guest arrived town via those tracks.         

In its day the Hotel Green, an unusual mix of Victorian and Moorish architecture, was one of the top “resort” destinations for well-heeled Easterners seeking relief from bone-chilling winters. Guests descended grand staircases to ballrooms, foyers and tea rooms sparkling in crystal chandeliers, gleaming marble and elegant wrought iron. Named for its owner, George Gill Green, the hotel was famously exclusive and soon became home to the Valley Hunt Club, founders of the annual Tournament of Roses Parade.

Pasadena knew it had a good thing going with George Green’s hotel; they honored him by changing the name of the hotel’s north side thoroughfare from Kansas Street to Green Street. 

There’s an irony here: the Hotel Green’s success actually helped bring about its demise. Wealthy vacationers drawn to the hotel and its splendid location returned the next year – but not to check in. Instead, they moved to Pasadena permanently, erecting scores of the beautiful homes for which the city is noted.

Today, the Castle Green functions as a private apartment building but remains a popular location for weddings, special events – and filming; scenes from “The Sting,” “The Last Samurai” and “Bugsy” were filmed here. Click here for more information about Castle Green.

–> While walking up or down Raymond – and throughout Old Town –  you’ll notice alleys running behind the main buildings.

Alleys. They’re everywhere – back behind and between the buildings of Old Town. There’s 22 of them, in fact, and all have at least one historical brass plaque speaking of its former use. Most are named for merchants and entrepreneuers: Huntington (of railway fame), Baker (one of the town’s original settlers from Indiana), Bohham (a plumber), Hopkins (an early proponent of Pasadena’s library), Kendall (a businessman) and Mills (a nurseryman).

It’s unlikely you’ll see, much less read the 40+ plaques but when you spot one, try to take time to explore the alley it marks. Some of Old Town’s best bars, restaurants and shops are within these alleys and although the fronts of the buildings on Colorado Boulevard date from around 1929-1930, their backs, facing the alleys, look pretty much as they did a hundred years ago. Portions of the movies “Paper Moon” and “Pulp Fiction” were shot in Kendall Alley.

The Pasadena Furniture Company Building (91 N. Raymond Ave. Architect unknown, 1914) towers above its neighbors. Count ’em up: nine floors! But despite the height (it was the tallest commercial building in Old Town for decades) the furniture store didn’t hold a corner location. But its neighbor, the little Adams and Turner Mortuary (1895), certainly did. As pointed out in “Old Pasadena Then And Now,” the giant furniture store’s many photographic print ads – when they were honest portrayals from the street – were obligated to include the little corner mortuary. The furniture store followed Pasadena’s eastward drift in the 1920s and relocated along E. Colorado Boulevard. Today’s Pasadena Furniture Company, at another location, is not related to the original which has since gone out of business.

23. Memorial Park. Adjacent to the Gold Line Memorial Park station; bounded by Holly Street, Raymond Avenue and Walnut Street.

The most imposing structure within the park is the Levitt Pavilion, a band shell erected in 1930 by the American Legion.

Mortimer Levitt established a foundation to build or preserve public park band shells throughout the country. This is one of them. Another is within downtown L.A.’s MacArthur Park. Others are in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas. In 2002 the foundation granted Pasadena funds sufficient to renovate the shell and every year since then, the city’s hosted a series of summer concerts in the park.

Originally called Library Park, the name was changed after the library moved east near City Hall. Throughout the park are memorials to Pasadena’s patriots and respected figures. Those memorials run the gamut from simple plaques (one recalls trees planted on the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth) to a handsome statue dedicated to Union soldiers from the Civil War. The two park water fountains – one a total reconstruction – are works of the tile guy, Ernest Batchelder.

On the northwest corner of the park stands the remains of the Old Public Library (Architect unknown, 1890). The city’s library was founded in 1882. Two years later they opened their doors. That first library, coming two years before the city’s incorporation, quickly proved too small to handle the needs of fast-growing Pasadena so plans were drawn up for a stately Romanesque structure you see in the image at left. So, in 1890, the books were moved from the former site on Dayton Street to here at the northwest corner of the newly-named Library Park – today’s Memorial Park.

One look at the corner tells you the library didn’t stay. In 1927 the books were moved again, this time to a site on Walnut Street just up from City Hall, anchoring the north site of Pasadena’s new Civic Center. And there the library remains.

The Old Public Library building was condemned as unsafe following damage caused by the Long Beach quake of 1933. Neglected for twenty years, it was demolished in 1954 but the Old Library’s arched entrance portico was saved (image above right). Ironically, the salvaged entrance arch was deemed unsafe following the 1994 Northridge quake and was fenced in. So once again, the Old Library – or what remains of it – is neglected. If you look closely at the old b/w photo above you can make out the original arched portico on the right, now absent its second floor and roof – and library.

Across from Memorial Park on Raymond Avenue is an aptly-named theatre venue.

24. Raymond Renaissance (former Raymond Theatre). 125 N. Raymond Ave. Cyril Bennett, 1921.

Let’s talk about design here. This theatre exhibits a rare combination of Beaux-Arts and Adamesque. The mid-1700s Adamesque style was formed by three brothers (the “Brothers Adam”) and experienced a brief retro period in the early 20th century. Look for Roman arches, pilasters, framed medallions and vases or urns – all of which this building’s front has in spades.

Opening as a Jensen Theatre Corporation property, the 1,996-seat theatre was sold in 1948, becoming the Crown Theatre – but remaining firm as Pasadena’s class-act film venue. In 1979 it’s name changed to the Perkins Palace and the theatre switched to an all-live music format, hosting performers such as Bruce Springsteen, The Go Gos, Phil Collins, Jimmy Buffett, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fleetwood Mac, Van Halen and Tina Turner. That phase ended in 1988 and since then, it’s been a tough and controversial road for the Raymond with preservationists pitted against developers.

The Raymond’s street appearance would suggest the preservationists prevailed.

They didn’t. Essentially, all that remains of the theatre is what you see from the street, although small portions of the theatre’s interior were incorporated into the building’s atrium. Retail space occupies the streetside front of the original theatre and “creative workspace” (live/work lofts) occupy the upstairs portions. Not visible from the Raymond Street are the units carved from the immense theatre space.

The modern brick building to the left of the theatre is part of the Raymond Renaissance complex; it consists of standard condo residences.

25. St. Andrew Catholic Church. 7311 N. Raymond Ave. Robert Montgomery, 1927.

The church, modeled after Rome’s Basilica of St. Sabina (432 A.D.), is a handsome structure, but its Romanesque campanile steals the show. Visible from most anywhere in Old Town, the bell tower is easy to find so there’s no reason not to do just that. And because it’s just a couple of blocks from Memorial Park and the Gold Line station, you may want to visit the church as you wrap up your tour.

Go inside and take in the beautiful marble columns and the painted murals (Carlo Wostry, 1927-1935). Wostry, a Venetian painter, used most of the eight years following the church’s completion to complete, transport (from Venice) and install these works.

In the 1930s St. Andrew’s was visited by Cardinal Pacelli who, in 1939, became Pope Pius XII.

As Quoted…”[Pasadena is a place] …where the people have money but no genuine art appreciation.” – an Italian newspaper article on learning that Wostry’s commissioned works were destined for California.

Over the years, the Exchange Block Building (Restoration Hardware; Mi Piace Restaurant; 13-27 E. Colorado Blvd. Cyrill Bennett, 1886) has housed a dry goods store, the First National Bank of Pasadena, a hardware company and a hotel that catered to businessmen: the Carleton Hotel. For a brief three months, Pasadena’s City Hall was located within the Exchange Building. The structure’s attractive façade dates from 1929. The alley behind the block – worth a visit – is known as Exchange Alley.

Matthew Slavin (builder of the Slavin Building, below) chose Harry Ridgeway to design what was originally a three-story Richardsonian Romanesque-styled building: the Stanton Building (Sprint; 80 E. Colorado Blvd., Harry Ridgeway, 1894). With round-headed arches, rusticated masonry, peaked roofs and chimney-like parapets (see image at left), the building was impressive for its time. The Masons occupied that third floor but when they moved out – to a building later demolished for the Parsons Company Building – the top floor was removed. But more reductions were coming.

By counting windows and arches, you can compare what exists today with what was lost in the street widening of 1929. Also lost over the years were the building’s architectural details. Interestingly, a portion of the building’s backside was removed, too.

–> Continue walking to Fair Oaks Avenue.

The Bear Building (Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf; 2 E. Colorado Blvd. Walter Folland, 1929) is something of a rarity on the boulevard. This “all-new” building chose to go with the popular Spanish Colonial Revival style rather than the somewhat more trendier Art Deco look. With an untimely opening soon after the stock market crash in 1929, the building’s main tenant, the United States Building and Loan Association, was soon history. Also gone are spires that used to extend above the third story windows. 

26. Slavin Building (Pottery Barn). 1 E. Colorado Blvd. Frederick Roehrig, 1904; façade by Balch and Stanberry, 1929.

Matthew Slavin was a builder and contractor – and a Pasadena Councilman. When completed, the 5-story structure was the biggest in Pasadena. The First National Bank occupied the first floor with professional offices above.

The original façade was Beaux-Arts; the re-do presents Art Deco styling. While Art Deco architects generally favored tapering towers (think of New York’s Chrysler Building or better yet, look one block westward to Old Town’s Forever 21 tower – #31 on your map) most of Colorado Boulevard’s structures were built as flat-topped Beaux-Arts-era buildings; updates were achieved by “hanging” Art Deco panels on their sides.

27. Dodworth Commercial Building (Cheesecake Factory). 2 W. Colorado Blvd. Walter Folland, 1902; new façade dates from 1930.

Like they say: location, location, location. The Cheesecake Factory knows how to pick a good place for a restaurant. Below are two pictures of the building taken from about the same place. The image at left shows it before the Colorado Boulevard street widening project shaved 14 feet (and that distinctive corner treatment) from its front. The center image shows the building today. Obviously, some major style changes have visited this building.

Above right is an early 1930s Colorado Boulevard street scene. The updated Dodworth Building is at left and the Owl Drug Store stands across from it. That’s the Slavin Building in the right foreground.

28. Owl Drug Co. Store (J. Crew). 11 W. Colorado Blvd. Bennett and Haskell, 1930.

The Owl Drug Store replaces what was once the Los Angeles House, a hotel, dating back to 1883. As coincidence, luck or whatever would have it, the hotel burned down the same year the street widening project was underway. So instead of an old building with a new façade, this corner got a new building.

Owl Drugs, the replacement structure, took on the style of the time, dressing itself in this Art Deco garb. Note the strong column-like piers and the heavy use of geometric ornamentation. When you visit it, look for “The Owl Drug Co.” name in tile at the entrance.

29. Doty Block. 101-109 S. Fair Oaks Ave. Frederick L. Roehrig, 1887.

Early tenants of the lower floor included Doty’s Carriage Repository, Randall & Twombly’s – a men’s store, and freight offices for the Los Angeles Pasadena Railway, later bought by Pasadena resident Henry Huntington as part of the massive Pacific Electric Railway system. Upstairs rooms were probably offices at first – later rented as low-budget residences or extended-stay hotel rooms.

By the 1940s the building became the Hotel Carver, and it was during that time that Club Onyx opened. Dizzie Gillespie, Count Basie, Sarah Vaughn and Sammy Davis Jr. were believed to have appeared here. The club closed around 1955 but other clubs followed.

30. Firehouse. 35 W. Dayton Street. Architect unknown, 1890.

If you visit the Doty Block then swing around onto Dayton Street to check out Pasadena’s oldest remaining firehouse. The city’s first volunteer fire department was organized in 1887 and soon boasted of five horses, a horse-drawn steam pumper, a hose cart and a hook and ladder wagon. This building became their first permanent station and they paid the fire chief a hefty $15 a month.

Their first real test came in 1895 courtesy of the Easter Sunday fire at the Royal Raymond, the luxury hotel of the time. Because the hotel was located just a few blocks south on Raymond Avenue, their response was fast, furious – and hopeless. High winds fed the flames and the hotel burned to the ground.

The firehouse got its first motorized fire engine (pictured above) in 1909, believed to be the first in any city west of the Mississippi. Times they were a-changing and by 1918 their horses and horse-drawn equipment were retired.

What once housed firemen, fire equipment and horses is now home to a recording studio. But just around the corner at 135 S. Fair Oaks Avenue is Pasadena’s fully-operational Fire Station 31. Though the museum here is small, their welcome is big. Stop in if you have time. Their original 1909 Seagrave fire engine pictured above is here on display.

Nearby, at the southeast corner of W. Dayton Street and S. Fair Oaks Avenue, is Central Park.

North on Fair Oaks, one of the first buildings you’ll notice is the Plant Block (J. Crew) (Harry Ridgeway, Stewart & Son, 1887). Though Colorado Boulevard building façades were victims of street widening, those on other streets weren’t. So here we have an original: a Victorian Gothic style with its distinctive window treatments still in place.

City Hall (Old Town sites). 1886-1903. Today’s City Hall, completed in 1927, stands proudly on Garfield Avenue. Incredibly, that site is at least its eighth – and certainly its longest – occupation.*

City Hall’s first location in 1886 was above a Hardware Store on Colorado Blvd. It then moved to the corner of Fair Oaks Avenue and Green Street (then called Kansas Street) and then to the Exchange Block, and then into a former school building. In 1889 it moved into a building at the northwest corner of Fair Oaks Avenue and Union Streets.

Less than four years later City Hall crossed the street to the southwest corner of the intersection (today’s Patagonia Building – image above right). Six months later it crossed the intersection yet again, now to the northeast side (image at left). Do you register a theme here? One envies the city’s contract with the local stationery shop. But finally, this site proved favorable and Pasadena’s City Hall didn’t move again for unprecedented 34 years!

*To its continued credit, City Hall has been in place on Garfield Avenue for over 80 years.    

31. Parsons Company Tower. 100 N. Walnut St. William Pereira and Associates, 1974.

The “Corporate International” style (to unfairly over-generalize: your “building in a box”) is well-represented by New York’s Lever House (pictured right) or that city’s U.N. Building. It’s a clean and honest style. Ornamentation is almost always totally absent; the building’s shape (almost always box-shaped), its construction materials and its orientation within its site are of paramount importance. You’ve already seen buildings of this style on your tour, the AT&T Building at the corner of Arroyo and Colorado Boulevards being the most recent.

The Corporate International style is divorced from the past; no Greek or Roman columns, no Renaissance or Gothic arches and no Mayan, Egyptian or Spanish Colonial ornamentation seen here. It doesn’t reference its locale’s history or rarely even its function. The style, originating in Europe in the 1920s, found international appeal by the 1950s. The Parsons Company Tower would be as happy in Paris or Perth as it is here in Pasadena.

True – the tower, Pasadena’s tallest building, isn’t a box. It came at the tail end of the Corporate International trend when shapes were loosening up considerably. Although we’re still putting up a few buildings that look very much like this one, clearly, we’ve moved to a new era: Postmodern. Today’s architects tend to play with shapes and typically address previous eras. Usually they’ll more closely link a building’s function to its looks. And they’re usually more sensititve to the site’s history and geography.

This building also came at the tail end of mid-century urban redevelopment. Today, redevelopment most typically brings “renovation” or “rehabilitation” to mind but back then it usually meant “demolition.” It’s not a stretch to suggest if that mindset had remained with us, Old Town Pasadena wouldn’t.

Mills Place. Here’s another alley you’ll want to explore. As a historical marker points out, Alexander Mills was a nurseryman whose 7-acre citrus grove stood across the street where today’s Victoria’s Secret and J. Crew do business. Most Old Town alleys host interesting shops and bars but this one seems to have an edge – and it’s just off Colorado Boulevard. McCormick Alley runs off Mills Place so you may want to get lost!    

Look closely at the Arcade Block (Victoria’s Secret. 15 W. Colorado Blvd. Architect unknown, 1915). As with all pre-1929 buildings here on Colorado Boulevard in Old Town, the façade is likely not original though it seems to have retained its traditional look. Maybe it’s a near-copy of the original façade as the  bas-reliefs above the second floor windows depict soldiers of World War I – a war which began in Europe in 1914 but didn’t involve U.S. troops until 1917.    

Before it was a Victoria’s Secret this was a Safeway market and a sewing machine store; upstairs was the Hotel Ritz.

The McNally Company Building (106 W. Colorado Blvd. Marston and Van Pelt, 1918) is one of the few buildings along the boulevard to retain its original façade. After removing the required 14 feet from the building’s front, engineers used rollers to move the saved façade back into place. W. A. McNally, an electrical contractor, sold electric appliances here in this Spanish Colonial-meets-the-Mediterranean building.

It’s a Fact:

By the late 1880s, Colorado Street had become Pasadena’s “Main Street.” But it was a sorry thoroughfare, particularly after winter rains when crossing a street put you in ankle-deep mud. Though properly paved in 1893 the street soon proved too narrow. In 1900 a petition was passed around to widen Colorado but that job wasn’t completed until 1929 – when the street became a “boulevard.”

–> Continue down Colorado Boulevard to DeLacey Avenue.

By now you’ve noticed that Old Town has a good slice of today’s mainstream, nationally-branded stores and restaurants: The  Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Cheesecake Factory, J. Crew, Apple – and here, at the corner – Tiffany & Company, Crate & Barrel and Gap. There was – and remains – no small concern that Old Town’s character would be compromised with the big brands. But chains and small businesses appear to co-exist.

 

 

32. Pennsylvania Oil & Tire Company Building (Forever 21). 35 N. DeLacey Ave. Bennett and Haskell, 1931.

The building dates from the height of the Art Deco period so it makes for an excellent study in the style. The piers (those column-like components) and the tapering tower stress the soaring verticalities favored by Art Deco and its ornamentation showcases the geometric designs of sunbursts and chevrons – also Art Deco hallmarks.

It might surprise you to know this elegant building was born a tire warehouse. The  Pennsylvania Oil and Tire Company Warehouse was later purchased by Saks Fifth Avenue but the local shopping demographics favored a more youthful market so today it’s a Forever 21 store.

Around the corner from DeLacey Avenue, at 62 W. Union Street, is a former stable, now doing business as a women’s clothing store. No ordinary stable, this one – its floors were cement and its walls were brick. The Bartlett Stables was designed by Willam B. Edwards and came in at $23,000 – a pretty penny for a 1905 horse barn. The cement sidewalk out front is scored to keep horses (and today’s patrons) from slipping in the event of rain. Look for the arc of horseshoe imprints in the pavement at the doorway.        

Here’s your tour’s last historic structure on the boulevard, the Wood & Jones Printers (Urban Outfitters; 139 W. Colorado Blvd. Architect unknown, 1905). The Pasadena Press occupied the building for over 80 years. What is one building today was constructed over twenty years; additions to the orignal structure were made every ten years: 1915 and 1925.

–> Continue to Pasadena Avenue.

–> Cross Pasadena Avenue, passing over the proposed I-710 Freeway extension.

33. Colorado Boulevard Bridge over I-710.

Proposed in 1959, a freeway was envisioned to provide a seamless, 28-mile link between Long Beach and Pasadena. Its exact route (via South Pasadena) was proposed in 1964. One southward glance from the bridge confirms the vision remains just that: a vision.

Ending in Alhambra, the I-710 falls 5 miles short of its goal. Residents of South Pasadena and Pasadena have fought to keep that final link from pushing through their neighborhoods but residents of Alhambra don’t like the massive freeway emptying cars and trucks onto their city streets, either. Meanwhile the hook-up with the I-210/Route 134, the stub you see below you, leads nowhere. A vehicular tunnel has been floated as a way to save homes and businesses – and end the 45-year impasse. All it takes is money!

–> Continue to St. John Avenue.

Colorado Boulevard’s “Auto Row” is up ahead. All owned by the same dealership, the line-up is impressive. Audi anchors the corner at Pasadena Avenue; Jaguar at the far end and in between: Bentley, Rolls Royce and Porsche. Got your check book?

Your “Pasadena Adventure” tour concludes here at the western end of Colorado Boulevard’s commercial district. On your return, try another side of the boulevard or, better yet, wander a block or two and take in some of the shops and restaurants along streets that parallel Colorado Boulevard: Green Street to the south; Union or Holly Street to the north.

–> Turn, and walk back to Raymond Avenue (four blocks).

–> At Raymond, turn left and walk two blocks to Holly Street.

–> Turn right and walk one block to the Memorial Park station.

34. Memorial Park Station – Ending point of the tourHolly Street at the northern end of Arroyo Parkway.

On your return to the station, look for the artwork on the wall of the Senior Center on the left side of Holly Street. It’s entitled “Einstein and Beyond” (Gifford Myers of Oyo Studio, 1998).

But don’t leave us just yet. First, review the list of Side Trips below.

Optional Side Trips:

“Millionaires Row”: 2 hours, depending on your museum time.

This is about a 2-mile walk, almost all of it over flat terrain. Your destination is the Tournament of Roses Headquarters – the former Wrigley mansion. Along the way you’ll pass the Norton Simon Museum. Look at the museum and your time hugs closer to one hour; look within the museum and you can easily make this a 4-hour Side Trip.

Go to “Millionaires Row” Side Trip – click here –

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Gamble House: 1.5 – 2 hours.

About 20 excellent Craftsman-style homes are visible on this 2-mile residential walk. Half of them are the works of Pasadena’s own Charles and Henry Greene including their most famous: the Gamble House. You’ll also see othier styles including Queen Anne, Dutch Colonial, Neoclassical and modern homes on this level-terrain walk.

Go to the Gamble House Side Trip – click here –

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Rose Bowl: 1 hour (via Pasadena ARTS bus).

The Pasadena ARTS shuttle does all the work on this one; sit back, relax and ride a scenic route to the Rose Bowl and Brookside Park, just across from the bowl. Access within the bowl requires a valid ticket but there’s still lots to see. Note: The 90,000-seat bowl is undergoing a phased renovation program with completion due in the summer of 2013.

Go to the Rose Bowl Side Trip – click here –

 

South Pasadena: 1-2 hours (via Metro Gold Line).

Hop aboard the Gold line for the 11-minute ride down to South Pasadena! Within just a few blocks you can explore a unique, small-town cluster of coffee shops, art galleries, unusual gift shops, great little restaurants and an historic soda fountain! This Side Trip is easy to get to and from – and easy on your feet, too.

Go to the South Pasadena/Mission Street Side Trip – click here –

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“The Huntington”: 2 – 4+ hours (via Pasadena ARTS bus).

This Side Trip really puts the “adventure” in your Pasadena Adventure tour. Officially the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, the site is the former mansion of Henry Huntington. The Side Trip also gives you a window on Pasadena’s Green Street and Lake Avenue shopping districts, too.

Go to “The Huntington” Side Trip – click here –

Tour Note: For more information about these and other architectural gems of the entire Los Angeles area, check out the excellent book by David Gebhard and Robert Winter entitled “An Architectural Guidebook to Los Angeles.”