Rejoicing in the “old” of Old Pasadena

Grand Hotel on Colorado Blvd.

Grand Hotel on Colorado and Fair Oaks, ca. 1883

All of us here at OPMD particularly love the projects that celebrate the history of Old Pas. We each have fond memories of our early encounters with this place, and are passionate about sharing the past with Pasadena’s residents and visitors.

Bluefront GroceryWhen I came to work for Old Pasadena Management a little over three years ago, one of my first big projects (and still one of my favorites) was based on the history of Pasadena’s early downtown. I entrenched myself in the archives of the Pasadena Museum of History to select vintage photographs that would cover the elevator doors of the three Park & Walk parking garages. The museum’s collection is extensive and rich, and the hardest part of the project was choosing only the dozen or so that we needed. The public portion of the Marriott Hotel garage on North Raymond features old store fronts, while the De Lacey garage features Rose Parade memories, and the Schoolhouse garage houses images of Pasadena landmarks and streetscapes.


The response was overwhelming… people LOVED them. Jeannette O’Malley, the Executive Director of the Museum, told me she had friends leaving her messages of congratulations because of them! People have literally gone from floor to floor just to see them all, and we still continue to hear about them; just last week we got a charming email from a woman telling us how much she and her husband enjoy them.

Streetcars arrive in Pasadena

First streetcars arrive in Pasadena, ca. 1895

Of all the photos we’ve worked with, my personal favorite is the 1895 image of the town celebrating the first streetcars coming to Pasadena in front of the old Ward Block building. The Ward building was one of the earliest commercial buildings in Old Pasadena and housed the bank, the hotel, the restaurant, the ice cream parlor… It existed, almost on its lonesome, in the midst of acres of orange groves at the SW corner of Fair Oaks and Colorado, currently the home of The Cheesecake Factory! I love the image for its sense of community, the proud unfurled flag, and those magical streetcars.

Colorado looking NW ca. 1882

(We’ll talk about them another time… stay tuned!) The punch-line is that those original cars had to be pulled into town by horses because the tracks weren’t completely laid yet! It still didn’t stop the party. John Wilson would like that. But that’s a story I’ll let Jim Plotkin tell.

In the meantime, who knows why the parking garage at Fair Oaks and Green is called the Schoolhouse Garage? Check out the massive photograph mural at the Fair Oaks entrance for a pretty good clue!

We’re always searching for great antique photographs of Old Pasadena. If you have any in your collection, we’d love your permission to possibly use them in a future project.

Photographs courtesy of Pasadena Museum of History.

Posted by:  Steve Mulheim, President & CEO

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3 Responses to “Rejoicing in the “old” of Old Pasadena”

  1. Cafe Pasadena Says:

    Just when I was about to say it’s about time for a New posting form Old Pasa…
    An XXcellent April Fool’s Day blog post!

    I say, let’s bring back some of the orange groves back to Old Pasa. There’s too much concrete & steel in the area. Let’s start on Orange Grove.

  2. Petrea Burchard Says:

    It’s a joy to discover the vestiges of old Pasadena through photos, and the collection at the PMH is fantastic. What a great way to share them with the public! A wonderful post.

  3. Dave Knight Says:

    It’s amazing to look at some of the old pictures….the city has changed a lot over the years!

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