Pasadena--Why You May Never Want to Leave

Pasadena City Hall
Pasadena City Hall | Source
The Colorado Bridge
The Colorado Bridge | Source
Eaton Canyon Falls (I wanted to set the camera on self timer and climb to the top and stand on the rock but some of the hikers looked like they needed a new camera so you'll just have to take my word that I climbed it.)
Eaton Canyon Falls (I wanted to set the camera on self timer and climb to the top and stand on the rock but some of the hikers looked like they needed a new camera so you'll just have to take my word that I climbed it.) | Source
Mrs. Eliot must have loved these--snow all you want Indiana, I'm home!
Mrs. Eliot must have loved these--snow all you want Indiana, I'm home!
Whoever designed this earlier bridge over the Arroyo certainly didn't know Beaux Arts like Waddell
Whoever designed this earlier bridge over the Arroyo certainly didn't know Beaux Arts like Waddell


Pasadena has given the world Jackie Robinson, Julia Child, the Rose Bowl, the Cheeseburger, the Mars landing, See's Candy and its most famous "little old lady." When Marty visited the professor in "Back to the Future" it was in Pasadena's fabulous Greene & Greene "Gamble House."

Every year, people in freezing climates watch the Rose Bowl Game with it's cheering fans in t-shirts on New Years Day and decide to move here--which is only fitting because Pasadena owes its very existence to the bitter cold winter of 1873.

First a little setting for drama:

Occupying the land but unfortunately fresh out of legal title deeds, a band of far ranging native environmentalists, the Hahamognas, welcomed their new friends the Spaniards in 1771, whose well meaning priests promptly converted them, appropriated their land and enlisted their help in building the new Mission system. Several years later, Mexico took over from Spain, thanked them for all their hard work and divided the land into Ranchos (complete with freshly printed title deeds-called land grants) which it handed out to its favorite "Don's.".

The grants were honored even after California became a state in 1850 but these fun-loving Don's couldn't keep up with their extravagant lifestyle and defaulted or sold their interests to their bankers, John S. Griffin and Benjamin "Don Benito" Wilson. Griffin and Wilson wanted to have an "open house" in their real estate investment so they asked Benjamin Eaton to supply it with water from the Arroyo Seco and Eaton Canyon so they could put "The San Pasqual Plantation" on the brochure.

This is where the weather comes in.

Enter the record-breaking mid-western winter of 1873. Indianapolis resident, Dr. Thomas Eliot, felt his ill wife could not survive another winter like they had just experienced. M.J. Newmark stopped by Indiana to try to sell the neighboring "Santa Anita Rancho" to them but the price was too high. Dr. Eliot and other Hoosiers calling themselves the "California Colony of Indiana," sent an asthmatic brother-in-law, Daniel M. Berry, to shop for orchard land in Southern California.

Benjamin Eaton, having failed to sell the San Pasqual Plantation to more knowledgeable local folk, invited Berry to look at the property. Having his first good night's sleep in years in the Rancho San Pasqual, Berry fell in love with the area which he code named "Muscat," and lobbied his group to buy the area now known as Pasadena. Although over their budget of $5 per acre and losing most investors in a stock market crash, Berry sold shares in a "Southern California Orange Grove Association" and cinched the deal with Griffin and Wilson. The bankers were so tickled to have unloaded their land to the Indiana Colony, that they threw in what would become Altadena for free.

When the Postmaster General wouldn't let them have their own post office with a confusing name like "Indiana Colony," the hardy midwesterners decided to have a colorful indian name. Of course they didn't ask any of the Hahamognas for one of their words, that would be too easy so they wrote to an old college buddy to ask the Minnesota Chippewa (everyone knows only Minnesota indians are experts on California) for an appropriate name. They came up with suggestions like "Crown of the Valley, Lily of the Valley, Girl of the Valley" which all ended in Pasadena--meaning "of the valley." The new colony liked the "euphonious" (Hahamogna for "gag me with a spoon,") sound of the name and it stuck.

Well they all came in droves and with each record snowfall, they still do. It's easy to be impressed with the blue ribbon private school system and decide to raise a family here. Outdoor enthusiasts are fascinated by the fact that they are ten minutes from the mountains with their trails and waterfalls and yet only twenty to thirty minutes to the beach. If that wasn't enough, for over a hundred years people with respiratory difficulties have been coming to Pasadena for the healing, dry climate. Some visit Old Town with its more than one hundred diverse restaurants and outdoor cafes and fall in love with the shopping and cuisine.

Pasadena's 1934 Santa Fe Depot with Castle Green in the background
Pasadena's 1934 Santa Fe Depot with Castle Green in the background
La Grande Orange is a Bob Lynn restaurant (former Houston's Exec VP) that lovingly restored the Santa Fe Pasadena station
La Grande Orange is a Bob Lynn restaurant (former Houston's Exec VP) that lovingly restored the Santa Fe Pasadena station
What? Doesn't everyone have waffles with their fried chicken?
What? Doesn't everyone have waffles with their fried chicken?
Legend is the Indiana Colony were having second thoughts until they tasted this famous Green Street salad
Legend is the Indiana Colony were having second thoughts until they tasted this famous Green Street salad
Cowboy Ribeye at Arroyo Chop House
Cowboy Ribeye at Arroyo Chop House

What struck me when I first encountered Pasadena was its comfortable diversity and friendly neighborhoods. What stands out about Pasadena is the melting pot dynamic that dissolves traditional barriers but still allows for the culture and uniqueness to thrive. Pasadena restaurants are renowned for their hospitality and delicious foods.

Whether I am having chicken and waffles at Roscoes, Mediterranean fare with belly dancers at Burger Continental, carne asada tacos at all night La Estrella's, eating slippery shrimp at Yang Chow's, Cowboy Ribeye at Arroyo Chop House, pasta at Luciano's, Diane Salad at Green Street Restaurant or a perfect Cheeseburger and fries at La Grande Orange, I know that I am a part of the creative and expressive family that is Pasadena.

I have to admit that I am hugely influenced by food when I think of a particular city and Pasadena is not the place to visit if you are on a diet. The already fabulous eateries are getting even better due to the graduates of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts who practice first in their very own "Technique" Restaurant. I could fill this entire article with my favorite restaurants and the savory dishes they prepare.

There are at least eight restaurants serving Middle Eastern food, over ten serving Japanese, at least that many steak houses, Chinese and Thai specialties. There are scores of Mexican Style restaurants and several of the finest California-Fusion eateries in all of Southern California. Here is a sample yelp review of the Parkway Grill by Paul from Whittier:

This a rarity for me, 5 stars, but not only have I encountered perfection, I ate it too!

The scallops on a bed of couscous with a subtle curry sauce was as good as it may ever get. Each scallop was cooked perfectly, flavorful to the max. I tried Kris' fillet Mignon with the red wine reduction Au jus and mushrooms and the flavor was eye popping, a good garlicky flavor, well cooked, melts in your mouth quality. The Neapolitan desert was light, not too sweet, great texture. Old school Pasadena at its best.


Castle Green Hotel 1899 by architect Frederick L. Roehrig
Castle Green Hotel 1899 by architect Frederick L. Roehrig
The Huntington/Langham Hotel
The Huntington/Langham Hotel | Source
Hotel Vista del Arroyo, now the 9th District Federal Court of Appeals
Hotel Vista del Arroyo, now the 9th District Federal Court of Appeals | Source
Art Center Main Campus
Art Center Main Campus
You don't even have to cut off an ear or go to Amsterdam to experience the world of Van Gogh Pasadena will take you there
You don't even have to cut off an ear or go to Amsterdam to experience the world of Van Gogh Pasadena will take you there

Pasadena has always had exceptional buildings and many of the more colorful ones have been hotels. The Huntington Hotel, now the Langham Hotel, was originally built by a Civil War veteran, General Wentworth in 1906. Designed by Charles Frederick Whittlesey in the Spanish Mission Revival-style, and redesigned in 1914 by Myron Hunt for its new owner, Henry Huntington.

Hunt and his partner Elmer Grey, either together or separately, designed many of the exceptional landmarks of Pasadena including Huntington Library, the Rose Bowl, Cal Tech and the Pasadena Playhouse.

In 1913, the fabulous Colorado Street Bridge opened. It was designed and built in the Beaux Arts style by Kansas City, Missouri firm J.A.L. Waddell.

In 1927, Pasadena's Civic Center opened, including a beautiful library and a city hall designed by John Bakewell & Arthur Brown, who incorporated influences of early Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio.

Art Center opened in 1930 in Downtown Los Angeles. In 1965 it changed its name to Art Center College of Design and in 1976 it moved to its current location in Pasadena. What do you say about an institution, who most people still call "Art Center," that had Ansel Adams as a photography instuctor, is consistently rated as the #1 art school by DesignIngelligence and U.S. News & World Report and whose graduates give us such fun things as the Mazda Miata by heading automotive design for automakers like Ford, Volvo, Honda, Audi, Mitsubishi, GM and Mazda. It is the only design school to be awarded NGO status by the United Nations.

In the 1980s, the Public Art Program was launched, requiring the 1% of the building valuation of both new private development and municipal construction projects in the city is dedicated to public art.

. In 1974, art collector Norton Simon took over the struggling Pasadena Art Museum and today the Norton Simon Museum has over 18000 priceless objects including works by (and I only list my favorites here) Goya, Manet, Monet, Rodin, Picasso, Matisse, Warhol, Frank Lloyd Wright's Japanese Woodblock collection, Gauguin, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Degas, Renoir, Rubens, Rembrant, Botticelli, Raphael and El Greco. I must confess that it was only by writing this article that I realized how much I am missing by not visiting there every day.

Other significant museums in Pasadena include The Pasadena Museum of History (established in 1924), Pacific Asian Museum (founded in 1971), the Kidspace Children’s Museum (established in 1979), and the Pasadena Museum of California Art (founded in 2002).

Gamble House--view showing the fabulous "sleeping porches" thought to be essential for health
Gamble House--view showing the fabulous "sleeping porches" thought to be essential for health | Source
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What makes me run from most cities is the absence of history in the architecture of the buildings and homes. In contrast, one of the things I like most about Pasadena is the marvelous blend of art and history in the architecture, design and care of construction of some of the most beautiful and classic homes in the country. I ride one of my bicycles whenever I can and cut through the many tree-lined neighborhoods to enjoy the sumptuous diversity of the homes and landscapes.

Charles and Henry Greene were fascinated by Japanese building techniques and combined this with the new craftsman philosophy and the influence of the rising art nouveau and art deco styles. While they built many of these craftsman homes which have been called the "ultimate bungalows," their crowning achievement is the Gamble House. Built in 1908 for a Proctor & Gamble heir, the house with its custom furniture and accents made with rich tropical woods is considered by many to be one of the finest examples of residential architecture in the United States.

Just the porch of the Huntington home turned Museum
Just the porch of the Huntington home turned Museum | Source
Huntington's copy was purchased in 1911 for $50,000--There are only four complete Gutenberg Bibles on vellum in existence
Huntington's copy was purchased in 1911 for $50,000--There are only four complete Gutenberg Bibles on vellum in existence | Source
When Henry Huntington purchased a painting of a boy in blue by Thomas Gainsborough and a girl in pink by Thomas Laurence, little did he know what a legend he would create. Blue Boy and Pinkie--the Romeo & Juliet of England's Rococo Period
When Henry Huntington purchased a painting of a boy in blue by Thomas Gainsborough and a girl in pink by Thomas Laurence, little did he know what a legend he would create. Blue Boy and Pinkie--the Romeo & Juliet of England's Rococo Period

The Huntington Library is one of the largest research libraries and perhaps the most beautiful library in the country. There are over two hundred acres of botanical gardens, seven million items, including rare books and manuscripts dating back as far as the 14th century. The archives are only open to qualified scholars and more than 1700 study there each year, including 20 Pulitzer Prize winners. The public exhibition hall gives a sampling of the collection, which includes the Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and one of the four complete copies of the Gutenberg Bible on vellum in the world.

The crown jewels of the library's eighteenth century portrait collection are the Gainsborough "Blue Boy" and the Laurence "Pinkie." The Blue Boy subject was the son of a hardware merchant friend, Jonathan Buttall. Pinkie, Sarah Moulton, the aunt of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, would die one year later at the age of 12 but their paintings would become one of the most beloved pairings in history.

The vast grounds feature replicas of the world’s most beautiful landscapes. There is an Australian garden, subtropical garden, rose garden, jungle garden, palm garden, Japanese Zen garden, and a recent addition, the Chinese-themed Garden of Flowing Fragrance.

The Japanese garden's tea house was originally from Kyoto, Japan and was recently carefully dismantled and sent back to Kyoto for restoration by its master designers.

Huntington Library's Japanese Garden
Huntington Library's Japanese Garden
Looking North toward the Public Library--City Hall on the right
Looking North toward the Public Library--City Hall on the right | Source
Looking South toward the Civic Center--Paseo Colorado in foreground
Looking South toward the Civic Center--Paseo Colorado in foreground | Source

Frank Lloyd Wright's "La Miniatura" is perhaps his best example of Textile Block Building Architecture. In one afternoon of bike riding I took pictures of that home and several others in the neighborhood that demonstrate the incredible diversity and exceptional design of Pasadena's heritage.

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I just had to have another shot of this bridge--Pasadena is so proud of it they close off the ends and have a big party at least once a year.
I just had to have another shot of this bridge--Pasadena is so proud of it they close off the ends and have a big party at least once a year. | Source
This is just one of the many romantic spots at the Huntington-Langham Hotel--the first hotel in the world to have an olympic sized swimming pool
This is just one of the many romantic spots at the Huntington-Langham Hotel--the first hotel in the world to have an olympic sized swimming pool | Source
Hard to believe, but an enterprising lad at this establishment came up with the first cheeseburger
Hard to believe, but an enterprising lad at this establishment came up with the first cheeseburger

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Comments 28 comments

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA

Fascinating story, well told with gorgeous photos. However, I'm a Northern CA girl through and through--places in SO CA may be nice to visit...as the saying goes.

Voted up, awesome, beautiful, interesting and shared.

I'd not be surprised to see this end up as a Hub of the Day at some point!


Phoebe Pike 4 years ago

Another amazing hub. I'm glad I checked your page out today. Those photos are incredible.


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

Beautiful photos! May have to visit one day, but way too many people for my tastes. :) Well written and voted up.


Winsome profile image

Winsome 4 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hi Lizzy, thank you for the votes of appreciation, that means a lot coming from a die hard Northerner. Be sure and visit often, we'll paint the old town red. =:)


Winsome profile image

Winsome 4 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Thank you Phoebe. I'm glad you checked it out too. I'd love to show you the sights. The photos are not nearly as beautiful as the real thing. =:)


Curiad profile image

Curiad 4 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

An excellent Hub, well written and researched. I have been to Pasadena and worked as a contractor on Jobs there. But I never knew the detail you shared.

Voted Up!


Winsome profile image

Winsome 4 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hey TT, bring your horse when you visit--that beautiful bridge has an equestrian trail beneath it that heads up through a gorgeous Arroyo trail through streams and trees with nary a soul around except a deer or two. The Gabrielino Trail continues up into the mountains and comes down where I regularly mountain bike in a neighboring community. Thanks for the comment. =:)


Winsome profile image

Winsome 4 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hi Curiad, I experienced the same thing as I researched my own community. I am amazed at how much more this fascinating city has to offer and how much more of a colorful history it has than I thought.

I see you enjoy photography, imagine having Ansel Adams as your instructor at the Art Center. Thank you for stopping by and for the kind words. =:)


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

What a fun hub about Pasadena, winsome. Thanks for the very interesting tour and the great photos. I already knew about See's Candies but much of the rest is news to me. So next time I visit, I'll check the town out more thoroughly. And tell them you sent me!


Winsome profile image

Winsome 4 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hi Doc

Thanks for the kind words. Pasadena is a destination town lovingly created by hard working people and the best artists turn of the century wealth could find. Time tested balance in a dream climate.

No need to tell em I sent you--I'll show you around myself. =: )


klarawieck 4 years ago

Wow! I never knew there was so much beauty in Pasadena. Your description and photos are beautiful. I'm just going to have to visit you someday!


Winsome profile image

Winsome 4 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

You will have the royal treatment when you do K, but be careful....you may never want to leave. =:)


klarawieck 4 years ago

Thank you, Winsome!


Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

I love the photos Winsome, especially the architecture. You've done a great job promoting this lovely city.


Winsome profile image

Winsome 4 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hi Hillary, thank you--I had to let the folks back home know why I'm not in Texas anymore. Atlanta has a lot of architectural charm too, despite Sherman's worst efforts.

Wherever I visit I always look for the historical section of town to get an idea of the flavor and character of the city.

I didn't even talk about the cable car up the mountain to the former, fabulous Mt. Lowe Hotel where you could purchase a ticket to Chicago nor about Cal Tech where Einstein used to hang out and JPL where they steer the rockets to the solar system. Mostly though, I could fill an article with the amazing food that sabotages daily my plans to cut back. I am happy you got to go on this tour. Thanks for visiting and y'all come back ya'hear. =:)


Phoebe Pike 4 years ago

Maybe sometime I'll have to go see it for myself.


Winsome profile image

Winsome 4 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hi Phoebe, yes you definitely should. Words and pictures can only do so much. A picture is worth a 1000 words and a visit is worth a 1000 pictures. =:)


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 4 years ago from Tampa Bay

You make any city sound so amazing. I'm sure you could be a successful travel writer. :)) I visited Pasadena many years ago when touring California on a work assignment. We loved the state so much we stayed for 3 months during the winter.

I love how you have given life to sometimes dry historical facts. It reminds me that everyone truly does have a life story. I love the photographs. I remember you telling me before about the Huntington Library. It sounds like a place I would love to walk through and sit in one of the gardens with an old book. Lovely writing as always, winsome! Just gave it a tweet.


Winsome profile image

Winsome 4 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

That's so "tweet" of you Rebekah, knowing a little of a city's history brings color and life to any exposure to it--luckily Pasadena has an inexhaustible supply of juicy tidbits in it's past. I only touched on a fraction of the good stuff.

It would be a fun job making money describing my travels. I find so much to appreciate wherever I go that it wouldn't even feel like work. I'll submit an article or two and see if I can wrangle an expense account out of somebody and start making up for lost time. ha ha

Thank you for visiting and for the always gracious comments. =:)


amy davis 4 years ago

`ok, i M COMPLETELY blog illiterate, how do I get to your other writings


amy davis 4 years ago

hi. thanks for sending me this chance to read!!!


Winsome profile image

Winsome 4 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hi Amy, I'm glad you figured it out and it is my pleasure. I hope you enjoy the articles--it was a lot of fun writing them. Thank you for visiting and for the comment. =:)


JBeadle profile image

JBeadle 4 years ago from Midwest

Amazingly detailed hub. Now I want to move there!!!


Winsome profile image

Winsome 4 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hi John, nice to "see" you. Yes it is an amazing little town. If you decide to leave the snow and rain for awhile, you would enjoy this place. I am really good at packing a truck like it was a tetris box so call when you're ready to roll. =:)


Crystal Tatum profile image

Crystal Tatum 4 years ago from Georgia

I had no idea Pasadena was such an interesting and beautiful city. You've provided an excellent guide for anyone who chooses to visit. Voted up!


Winsome profile image

Winsome 4 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Thank you Crystal, what a gracious comment. I have been to Georgia and it has it's treasures as well. The Flying Biscuit in Atlanta was fun and the Pralines in Savannah--yumm. In Pasadena we have so many things that remind me of the South--except the humidity and mosquitoes of course. Come visit any time. =:)


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

What a fabulous hub about Pasadena, California. I have generally headed to the northern part of the state while on vacation but loved reading about this. Would enjoy seeing it in person someday. The architecture, museums and just the general area with access to beaches and mountains all within a close range sound very inviting. Great photos! Regarding all of the restaurants...we have a similar situation in Houston. Just about any world cuisine can be enjoyed here. Up votes and sharing!


Winsome profile image

Winsome 4 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Oh Peggy you would love it. It's a smaller version of Houston but with a West Coast fresh vibe and an old money feel to it. You can visit any time because the weather is (can I say it?)..... perfect and you can leave all your mosquito repellant at home. Thanks for visiting and y'all come back y'hear! =: )

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