Colorado Boulevard, Old Pasadena, Pasadena, California
Image by Ken Lund
Pasadena is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population of Pasadena was 137,122, making it the 180th-largest city in the United States, down from 168th place in 2009. Pasadena is the ninth-largest city in Los Angeles County. Pasadena was incorporated on June 19, 1886, becoming the fourth city to be incorporated in Los Angeles County, after Los Angeles (April 4, 1850), Anaheim (February 10, 1870) and Santa Ana (June 1, 1886); the latter two moved to Orange County after its separation from Los Angeles County in 1889. It is one of the primary cultural centers of the San Gabriel Valley.
The city is known for hosting the annual Rose Bowl football game and Tournament of Roses Parade. In addition, Pasadena is also home to many scientific and cultural institutions, including the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Fuller Theological Seminary, Art Center College of Design, the Pasadena Playhouse, the Norton Simon Museum of Art and the Pacific Asia Museum.
The original inhabitants of Pasadena and surrounding areas were members of the Native American Hahamog-na tribe, a branch of the Tongva Nation. They spoke the Tongva language (part of the Uto-Aztecan languages group) that lived in the Los Angeles Basin for thousands of years. Tongva dwellings lined the Arroyo Seco (Los Angeles County) in present day Pasadena and south to where it joins the Los Angeles River and along other natural waterways in the city.
They traded for ocean fish with the coastal Tongva. They made cooking vessels from steatite soapstone from Catalina Island. The oldest transportation route still in existence in Pasadena is the old Tongva foot trail, also known as the Gabrielino Trail, that goes along the west side of the Rose Bowl and up the Arroyo Seco past the Jet Propulsion Laboratory into the San Gabriel Mountains. That trail has been in continuous use for thousands of years. An arm of the trail is also still in use up what is now called Salvia Canyon. When the Spanish occupied the Los Angeles Basin they built the San Gabriel Mission and renamed the local Tongva people "Gabrielino Indians," after the name of the mission. Today, several bands of Tongva people live in the Los Angeles area.
Pasadena is a part of the original Mexican land grant named Rancho del Rincon de San Pascual, so named because it was deeded on Easter Sunday to Eulalia Perez de Guillén Mariné of Mission San Gabriel Arcángel. The Rancho comprised the lands of today’s communities of Pasadena, Altadena and South Pasadena.
The popularity of the region drew people from across the country, and Pasadena eventually became a stop on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, which led to an explosion in growth. From the real estate boom of the 1880s until the Great Depression, as great tourist hotels were developed in the city, Pasadena became a winter resort for wealthy Easterners, spurring the development of new neighborhoods and business districts, and increased road and transit connections with Los Angeles, culminating with the opening of the Arroyo Seco Parkway, California’s first freeway. By 1940, Pasadena had become the eighth largest city in California and was considered by many to be a twin city to Los Angeles.
The American Craftsman era in art and design is exceptionally well represented in Pasadena. In architecture Greene and Greene, the Green Brothers firm, developed the style with many residences still existing. Two examples of their Ultimate bungalow versions are the masterpiece Gamble House (public tours), and the Robert R. Blacker House (private).
The Second World War proved to be a boom to Pasadena as Southern California became a major staging area for the Pacific War. High tech manufacturing and scientific companies made the city their home, a trend which continued in the decades following the war, notably with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Tetra Tech and Ameron International.
In the 1950s, Pasadena saw a steady influx of people from the Southern United States, especially African-Americans from Texas and Louisiana. Pasadena also began hosting a large immigrant community, particularly from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Armenia.