A History of Pasadena, CA
The area now known as Pasadena, California was once inhabited by the Native American Hahamog’na Tribe. Their lodges lined the Arroyo Seco to where it joins the Los Angeles River, living on acorn meal, venison, seeds, and other small animals. Additionally, they traded along the Tongva foot trail, a part of which is still in use today: Salvia Canon. The land is part of the original Mexican grant given over from Spain to Mexico, passed along from owner to owner until Dr. John S. Griffin and Benjamin Wilson merged the land once more into the City of Pasadena.
The city quickly became a popular tourist destination. As a stop on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway, Pasadena exploded with tourist hotels, new neighborhoods and business districts, and increased transit connections with Los Angeles. By 1940, Pasadena was considered the twin city to Los Angeles and the eighth largest city in California.
Not only did the infrastructure of Pasadena expand, but so did the culture
and the education system of the city. In 1890, the Valley Hunt Club hosted a mid-winter festival complete with a parade of flower-decorated horses and carriages. Since then, it has become a yearly tradition, known as the Tournament of Roses. The California Institute of Technology, then known as Throop Polytechnic Institute, was founded in 1891. Continuing into the 1900s, the addition of the Pasadena Playhouse and Grace Nicholson Gallery, among other attractions, made Pasadena culturally rich, making it a well known tourist center and winter resort for the wealthy.
However, The Great Depression disrupted Pasadena’s tourist economy. Instead, in the wake of World War II, the city became the home of high tech manufacturers and scientific companies. Hotels in Pasadena were used as military command headquarters for the Pacific War and The Vista del Arroyo Hotel became a hospital for the wounded. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory was established for research and development aiding the war effort. For its industrial grown and accessibility to Los Angeles, newcomers looking for work flocked to Pasadena during the postwar boom.
With all this new growth and development, Pasadena had difficulty preserving the unique quality of life until the 1970s. The once-beneficial climate became clouded with smog. When the business district began moving east, the heart of the city became dilapidated, with low-income population and declining property values. Major companies left Pasadena because there was little land for expansion. However, once the seventies arrived, the Pasadena Redevelopment Agency was formed in an effort to revitalize the economy. The city underwent large projects to build the Conference Center and Plaza Pasadena retail mall, as well as more office space and commercial buildings.
Between 1980 and 1990, revitalization of the area continued. Citizens had an awakened respect for the city’s architectural treasures and started renovating historic houses and buildings. Since then, Pasadena has once again become a major attraction in Southern California, as well as a cultural, industrial, and scientific center. From the Rose Bowl to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California looks to towards the future, balancing growth with community needs. The city and its community are dedicated to integrating a rich cultural history with the challenges of the future.