“The Huntington” Side Trip

Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens: 2+ hours. The Pasadena ARTS bus takes care of getting you most the way there, the rest involves a short walk through a pleasant residential neighborhood. Bus service is offered Monday through Saturday (Saturday service starts at 11:00 am). There is no bus service on Sundays. Pasadena ARTS buses don’t operate on New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day.  

Full route information is available at the Pasadena ARTS bus website.

What you’ll see:

  • The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens
  • Norton Simon Museum, the Pasadena Memorial Flagpole and other sights along the way.
  • California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
  • Pasadena City College
  • Green Street shops and restaurants
  • The fashionable South Lake Avenue business and shopping district

This Side Trip is wheelchair accessible. Portions of the walk will be over some sidewalks with uneven surfaces. 

How to get there:

  1.  Walk to the corner of Colorado Boulevard and Raymond Avenue.
  2. Locate the #10 Pasadena ARTS bus stop on the north side of Colorado Boulevard (you’ll be traveling west the bus turns east in the direction of the Huntington). 
  3. The bus runs about every 25 minutes every day (no service on Sundays). Check the Pasadena ARTS website for exact schedules.
  4. The standard fare is 75¢ (60+ is 35¢). Other fares or discounts may apply so check out this link to see if you’re eliglible: Pasadena ARTS Fares.
  5. Remain aboard until your arrival at the corner of Del Mar Boulevard and Allen Avenue. The Rose City Church is your landmark. 
  6. The one-way ride takes about 20 minutes.
  7. Before getting off, check with the driver regarding the exact pick-up point and bus frequency for your return trip.
  8. Walk south, down S. Allen Avenue to Orlando Road and the entrance to the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens grounds. The walk is just over a half-mile, entirely through a quiet, very pleasant residential neighborhood. (Your final two blocks puts you in San Marino, one of the country’s wealthiest neighborhoods.   

How to get back:

  1. Locate the #10 Pasadena ARTS bus stop in front of the Pasadena Auto and Radiator Shop on Del Mar Boulevard. It’s across Allen Avenue from where you got off the bus.
  2. Board the bus (same number, same fare).
  3. Remain aboard until your arrival back at the Colorado & Raymond bus stop.  

If you see something that interests you along the way to or from the gardens, feel free to stop and check it. Just note where you got off and reboard at that same spot. An additional fare is required for each re-boarding. 

The Tour: With The Huntington as your destination, the tour essentially follows the route of the Pasadena ARTS bus. Here are the highlights, in order, along the way: 

A) Elks Lodge #672. Across to your left, at 400 W. Colorado Boulevard, what looks like Mount Vernon is the Pasadena Lodge 672 of the Benevolent Power of the Order of the Elks. Designed by Myron Hunt and Harold Chambers (together they also designed the Malaga Cove Library in Palos Verdes) and completed in 1911, the building makes a fine, though somewhat incongruous statement near the top of the boulevard. Colonial Virginia in Pasadena?

B) Norton Simon Museum. To the right is the Norton Simon Museum (Thorton Ladd and John Kelsey, 1969). One of the most photgraphed (if not photogenic) museums in the world, the museum is at the backdrop for the annual Tournament of Roses Parade. Beginning life as the Pasadena Art Institute in 1922, the museum moved into a Victorian home located at about its current site. Later it moved to where today’s Pacific Asia Museum is located (seen earlier on the main tour) and returned here, opening in late 1969. 

The museum, designed by the local firm of Ladd & Kelsey, added significantly to its collection but also added to its debt. Norton Winfred Simon (of Hunt-Wesson Foods, McCalls Publishing, Canada Dry, Avis Car Rental) stepped in and took on the museum’s financial obligations. In return, in 1975, the building took on his name. Frank Gehry  oversaw a major interior renoavation in the late 1990s.  

At any given moment, about 1,000 art objects – Asian, 14th – 19th century European, Modern and Contemporary – are on display in the museum’s galleries and gardens. Closed Tuesday. Admission is $10.00 (62+ is $5.00). Click here for more information about the Norton Simon Museum. 

C) Pasadena Memorial Flagpole. This intersection is makes for an odd, seldom-visited depository for Pasadena plaques, markers and monuments. You’ll stop by the other three corners on the return leg of the Side Trip. Here on the right (the northeast corner) rises a flagpole. Originally sited smack in the middle of the intersection within a small traffic circle, the city wisely moved the Pasadena Memorial Flagpole to this corner. 

No ordinary flagpole, this. It was designed by Bertram Goodhue – the same architect who executed downtown L.A.’s Central Library. The sculpture’s base is the work of Lee Lawrie who partnered with Goodhue at the library, too.  

The 115-foot pole honors Pasadena’s fallen soldiers from World War I and was dedicated in 1927. The photo at left shows the flagpole in the 1940s, soon after being moved from the traffic flow.

–> The bus turns left onto Orange Grove Boulevard.  

D) Southeast Corner. This corner is purposely empty of poles or monuments. It’s here where the Rose Parade’s main grandstands and TV commentator booths are erected each year. It’s also the sharpest, most challenging corner for Rose Parade float operators. Maybe it looks easy enough for cars but picture a multi-ton, 100-foot-long-plus parade float maneuvering through the turn.

E) Founder’s Monument. In the park to the right, look for the Founder’s Monument. It’s a stone wall and bench erected in 1954 from stone saved from the demolished Old Public Library that once stood in Memorial Park. The bench faces a plaque (Pioneer Plaque) listing Pasadena’s 27 original settlers.  

–> The bus turns left onto Green Street.

F) Site of former Ambassador College Campus College. Founded in 1947, the “Worldwide Church of God” campus incorporated a cluster of mansions erected in the early 1900s, as well as the modern buildings you see here to the right, most dating from the 1960s and 70s. A local church purchased a 13-acre portion of the property, including the Auditorium (Daniel, Mann Johnson & Mendenhall, 1974). A private development company purchased a 10-acre portion with plans to demolish the 1960s-era student housing structures and replace them with a 70-unit complex of townhouses. Yet another section of the former campus is owned by yet another entity.

G) Green Street. On the way to the Huntington, your bus runs most the length of Green Street, from Orange Grove Boulevard to Lake Avenue. Along the route you’ll see all sorts of interesting-looking shops and eateries you may want to stop and visit. If you save them for the return trip, make note of the nearest cross street because your return route runs via Colorado Boulevard, just one block north of Green Street.

H) Pasadena Convention Center – Civic Auditorium

I) Paseo Colorado.

Earlier you toured past the Convention Center/Civic Auditorium and walked through the Paseo Colorado. 

–> The bus turns right onto Lake Avenue.

J) South Lake Avenue Business & Shopping District. The ride to and from the Huntington gives you a great way to see more of Pasadena’s shops, businesses and restaurants. Fashionable since the late 1940s, the tree-lined avenue includes Bullocks Pasadena (“K” on the map), now Macy’s. You may be able to glimpse it down Lake Avenue on the right, just as the bus turns left onto Del Mar Boulevard. Remember, you can get off and on the bus when you see something you like; just pay the fare when you re-board. 

Completed in 1947 – it’s an architectural icon of the modern, suburban department store of the day. The firm Wurdeman & Becket designed the modern structure – the same folks who brought you Hollywood’s Capitol Records Building and the Cinerama Dome.

— The bus turns left onto Del Mar Avenue.

L) Caltech is off to the right. The school was founded in 1891 as Throop University (for its founder, Amos Throop) with 31 students and a faculty of six. Within a generation the school had changed its name to the California Institute of Technology and earned a reputation as one of the nation’s premier schools of engineering and technology. Today it counts over 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students.   

M) Pasadena City College is to the left. Founded as a Junion College in 1924, the community college (third largest in the nation) now enrolls over 30,000 credit students – but there are no housing facilities on the campus. But PCC does have its own Seismograph and Observatory – one of only a few community colleges who can boast those facilities.    

–> The bus turns left onto S. Allen Avenue. Be sure to exit the bus immediately after making that left turn.

Follow the “How to get there” directions, above.

N) The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens: The “+” in the tour time for this Side Trip suggests you may want to allot a lot more, instead of less, time here. In fact, the “Huntington” could easily be a full day if you’re into such things as libraries, art, architecture and gardens.

This is the one-time home of the railroad, utility and real estate tycoon Henry Huntington. His property now includes three components: the library, the art collection and botanical gardens – the gardens being the most visited. Click here for more information about the Huntington Library. The first Thursday of each month is “Free Day,” but you must make a reservation and have a ticket for admittance. No regular-price admissions are permitted on Free Day. Click here for more information.

For your return trip back to Old Town Pasadena, follow the “How to get back” directions, above.

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