25 Random Things about Old Pasadena
1. Present day Pasadena was settled by a group of Indianans seeking fairer weather following the exceptionally cold winter of 1872-73. The Indiana Colony was incorporated on January 31, 1874, and was later renamed Pasadena because the name “Indiana Colony” was rejected by the Postmaster General.
2. The official paint color for all street furniture in Old Pasadena is “Tavern Square Green“, as stipulated in the Streetscapes and Alley Walkways Plan.
3. The Schoolhouse parking garage is named for the Fair Oaks schoolhouse, which was relocated shortly after the turn of the century when it became exposed to the bustling activity of the developing center of town and potential danger to the children.
4. The Old Pasadena Property-based Business Improvement District (PBID) was renewed by petition vote in 2005 for another five year term, by an overwhelming 94% approval by the property owners. The Continuation Campaign is getting underway for the 2010 renewal.
5. In 1929 Colorado Street (now Colorado Boulevard) was widened by 14 feet on both sides. Many of the elaborate Victorian faces of the buildings were lost to reconstruction and replaced with Spanish and Art Deco designs.
6. The annual Tournament of Roses Parade attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators to Colorado Boulevard and they begin lining the parade route at noon on December 31 in preparation for the New Year’s Day kick-off at 8:00am. Old Pasadena’s Clean Team has the streets and sidewalks clean by noon so that merchants can open for business and visitors can enjoy shopping and dining.
7. The Ambassador Guides patrol the District walking a total of miles in one year that more than circle the earth.
8. Many people know the downtown area as “old town”, but the team of people working on the revitalization plan in the 1980s christened the area “Old Pasadena” to distinguish it from so many other “old towns” and mark the new beginning.
9. 17,434,560 square feet of sidewalk in Old Pasadena are pressure washed annually.
10. The first Tournament of Roses featuring rose-bedecked carriages was staged in 1890 by members of Pasadena’s Valley Hunt Club, former residents of the East and Midwest eager to showcase their new home’s mild winter weather.
11. The intersection of Fair Oaks Avenue and Colorado Boulevard in Old Pasadena is the zero-zero, east-west, north-south postal division of Pasadena.
12. The recently redesigned website oldpasadena.org receives as many as 1,300 unique visitors a day and the average time spent on the site is 10 minutes.
13. The building that now houses the Armory Center for the Arts on Raymond above Holly was originally built for the California National Guard. The old brick building on Holly across from the Pasadena Senior Center was the National Guard motor depot.
14. 1,992,090 cars enter and exit the three City-owned Park & Walk garages annually: Schoolhouse, Marriott, and De Lacey.
15. The Braley Building on South Raymond Avenue was originally constructed in 1906 as a bicycle factory and its “wheel-and-spokes” motif remains to this day throughout the architectural details, both inside and out. The building has just begun renovation by its new owners, the Church of Scientology.
16. At the same time that Colorado Boulevard was being expanded in 1929, Kansas Street was also widened and renamed Green Street, now known for its gorgeous canopy of Ficus trees, which are now lit year round.
17. Colorado Boulevard, which runs straight through Old Pasadena, was a segment of the original Route 66.
18. 123 trash cans are emptied twice daily by our Clean Team.
19. Restaurant Barney’s LTD was named for “Barney” Williams, who did double duty as the postmaster, and ran the first general store. His home place was on the site now occupied by Central Park.
20. Old Pasadena receives 30,000 weekend visitors on average.
21. In 1902 City Hall occupied the building on the corner of Union Street and Fair Oaks Avenue. City Hall was relocated several times. In 2003 the building was retrofitted and remodeled to resemble the original building. It is now home to The Container Store.
22. Pasadena means “crown of the valley” in the Minnesota Chippewa language. Dr. Thomas Elliott, one of the city’s founders, contacted an Indian missionary friend in Michigan who had worked with the Minnesota Chippewa Indians and submitted the name for translation.
24. Built in 1887, the three-story red brick Victorian at 107 S. Fair Oaks Avenue was a showroom for a stage coach or carriage company. In the early 1900s it was converted to the Hotel Mikado and served the Japanese American community. In the 1940s it became Pasadena’s first black-owned hotel, the Hotel Carver which housed a prominent jazz club in the basement, and finally closed in 1985. Now several boutique shops occupy the street level retail spaces including Jumping Jellyfish, Bianca Luce, Rising Sun Denim, Elements Kitchen, and Images Nail and Spa. Check out Pasadena Daily Photo’s blog post “Hotel Carver: Then and Now” with a great photo of the building.
25. “Pulp Fiction” (1994) shot scenes in Kendall Alley (off of Union Street and Raymond Avenue) and the exterior of the Raymond Theater at the corner of Raymond Avenue and Holly Street. The historic theater was also used in the filming of “Spinal Tap” (1984). Kendall Alley was also a location for the filming of “Paper Moon” (1973) and more recently, “Live Free and Die Hard” (2007), which also featured Brenart Café.
Historic photos: Courtesy of the Pasadena Museum of History Archives.