Pasadena, California

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Pasadena, California
City seal

Location in the Los Angeles County and the State of California
County Los Angeles County, California
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

60.0 km² (23.2 mi²)
59.8 km² (23.1 mi²)
0.2 km² (0.1 mi²)
 - Total (2000)
 - Metropolitan
 - Density

Time zone
- Summer (DST)
Location 34° 09′ 22″ N, 118° 7′ 55″ W
Mayor Bill Bogaard
City Attorney Michele Beal Bagneri
City Clerk Jane Rodriguez
City Manager Cynthia J. Kurtz
City website

Pasadena is a city located in Los Angeles County, California, United States. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 133,936. Pasadena is the main population and cultural center of the San Gabriel Valley. It is the 8th largest city in Los Angeles County and famously known for the Rose Bowl and Tournament of Roses Parade.



Pasadena is located at 34°9'22" North, 118°7'55" West (34.156098, -118.131808)1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 60.0 km² (23.2 mi²). 59.8 km² (23.1 mi²) of it is land and 0.2 km² (0.1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.30% water.

The Pasadena Area is determined by The Raymond Fault line, the San Rafael Hills, and the San Gabriel Mountains. It has six suburbs: Altadena, South Pasadena, East Pasadena (annexed to Pasadena proper), Sierra Madre, San Marino, La Cañada-Flintridge and Arcadia. It is also debatable whether nearby San Gabriel and Alhambra are suburbs.

Pasadena is unusual in that even though it is only 12 miles from central Los Angeles, it remains a self-sufficient metropolis.

Pasadena City Hall in Pasadena, CA
Pasadena City Hall in Pasadena, CA


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 133,936 people, 51,844 households, and 29,862 families residing in the city. The population density is 2,238.7/km² (5,798.7/mi²). There are 54,132 housing units at an average density of 904.8/km² (2,343.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 53.36% White, 14.42% African American, 0.71% Native American, 10.00% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 16.01% from other races, and 5.39% from two or more races. 33.40% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 51,844 households out of which 27.1% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.2% are married couples living together, 12.1% have a female householder with no husband present, and 42.4% are non-families. 33.7% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.3% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.52 and the average family size is 3.30.

In the city the population is spread out with 23.1% under the age of 18, 9.3% from 18 to 24, 34.9% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 12.1% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 95.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 93.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $46,012, and the median income for a family is $53,639. Males have a median income of $41,120 versus $36,435 for females. The per capita income for the city is $28,186. 15.9% of the population and 11.6% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 21.3% of those under the age of 18 and 10.5% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


The original inhabitants of Pasadena and surrounding areas were the Hahamongna, a branch of the Tongva (part of the Shoshone language group). Pasadena, like many municipalities in California, began as part of land that belonged to a Spanish mission, in this case the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel. The land passed from Spain to Mexico and eventually was deeded and passed to a number of different owners.

The city that became Pasadena was founded in 1873 by Thomas Elliott and a group of migrants from Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois looking for a warmer climate and cheap land. The name of the city is said to originate from a word in the language of the Chippewa Indians meaning "crown of the valley," though this explanation is disputed. Pasadena eventually became a key stop along the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, which led to an explosion in its growth.

From the real estate boom of the 1880's until the Great Depression, as great tourists hotels were developed in the city, Pasadena became a winter resort for wealthy easterners. Two hotel structures have survived to the present day. The Green Hotel, on Fair Oaks Avenue and Green Street in Old Pasadena, was converted into condominiums (and is now called "Castle Green"). The Vista Del Arroyo Hotel on Grand Avenue, which the Army commandeered for use as a hospital during World War II, now houses the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Pasadena's role as a regional hub was cemented by numerous other events, among them the Tournament of Roses Parade, the construction and opening of Figueroa Street and the Pasadena Freeway and Harbor Freeway in the period from 1931 through the early 1960s, and the completion of the Los Angeles Metro Gold Line in 2003.


Performing Arts

The Pasadena Symphony, founded in 1928, offers several concerts a year at the Pasadena Civic Center and the Pasadena Pops plays at nearby Descanso Gardens. The Civic Center also holds a few travelling Broadway shows each year. The Pasadena Playhouse puts on six shows a season, with each show running for two or three months. The Furious Theatre Company is one of several small theatre companies in Pasadena. They currently use the upstairs theater adjacent to the Pasadena Playhouse. The Boston Court theater, which opened in 2003, is located in downtown Pasadena and puts on a number of performances each year, ranging from stage works to jazz concerts. The Friends of the Levitt organization [1] puts on a free summer concert series in Memorial Park; the 2005 summer season marked its third year.

Visual Arts

A number of artists of national repute, such as Alson S. Clark, Marion Wachtel and Ernest A. Batchelder, made Pasadena their home in the early twentieth century. The formation of the Pasadena Arts Institute and the Pasadena Society of Artists heralded the city's emergence as a regional center for the visual arts.

The Norton Simon Museum contains over 2000 years of art from the Western world and Asia. The Pacific Asia Museum, with its tranquil garden in the center, features art from the many countries of Asia. The nearby Pasadena Museum of California Art hosts many temporary exhibits from Californian artists. The Gamble House, a National Historic Landmark, is a masterpiece of the Arts and Crafts Movement open for tours. The Huntington Library and its botanical garden are adjacent to Pasadena in the city of San Marino.


The well-known Caltech is located in the southern tip of Pasadena, with Pasadena City College being located just to the northeast. Fuller Theological Seminary is located just west of downtown Pasadena. Pacific Oaks College is located right next to the Pasadena's National Historic Landmark - The Gamble House. The famous Art Center College of Design is on the hills overlooking the Rose Bowl, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (operated by Caltech) is located in nearby La Canada Flintridge.

The Pasadena Unified School District is in charge of the city's 5 high-schools, 3 middle schools, and 24 elementary schools.[2] The school district has been plagued by declining enrollment in recent years, resulting in decreased funding.

Within the city are several private college preperatory schools, most notably Polytechnic School and Westridge School for Girls.


Old Pasadena is a popular shopping and dining area for locals and tourists. Paseo Colorado is a more upscale mall designed to be a modern urban village, with apartments above the mall. An exclusive shopping district is located in the South Lake Avenue neighborhood.


The Rose Bowl stadium, a National Historic Landmark, is host of the oldest and most famous college football postseason bowl game every New Year's Day. It is the home field for the University of California, Los Angeles football team. Important soccer matches include the 1984 Summer Olympics, the men's final in the Football World Cup 1994, and the final in FIFA Women's World Cup 1999.


Tournament of Roses Parade

Pasadena is also home to the Tournament of Roses Parade, held each year on January 1 (unless that day is a Sunday, in which case the event is held on January 2). The first parade was held in 1890 and was originally sponsored by the Valley Hunt Club, a Pasadena social club. The impetus for holding the parade was, as stated by one of the members, Professor Charles F. Holder, "In New York, people are buried in snow. Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let's hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise."

By 1895, the festivities had become larger than the Valley Hunt Club could manage, and the Tournament of Roses Association was then formed to take charge of the festival. In 1902, it was decided that a football game would be added to the day's events. The game, now known as the Rose Bowl, would become the first post-season college football game ever. The first game was between Stanford University and the University of Michigan. After suffering a tremendous financial loss, the Tournament of Roses Association decided to hold Roman chariot races in lieu of football games. However, in 1916, football returned. When it became clear that the stands in Tournament Park were too small to facilitate the crowd, the Tournament's President, William Leishman, proposed that a stadium be built to house the game. The Rose Bowl was completed in 1923. The Rose Bowl has since been selling out to crowds since 1947. In 1998, the Rose Bowl celebrated its 52nd anniversary and became the longest running tradition of its kind.

The Rose Parade, as it is familiarly known, still features elaborate floats. According to the organizers, "Every inch of every float must be covered with flowers or other natural materials, such as leaves, seeds or bark. Volunteer workers swarm over the floats in the days after Christmas, their hands and clothes covered with glue and petals. The most delicate flowers are placed in individual vials of water, which are set into the float one by one."

South Orange Grove Boulevard

One of two primary, exclusive residential districts in Pasadena, South Orange Grove Boulevard has been a home for the rich and famous since the early 20th century. Because of a number of landmark mansions, the street earned the name "Millionaire's Row." However, by the early 21st Century many of these homes had been replaced by spacious, pricey condominiums. Prominent among the historic residences is the Wrigley Mansion, former home of chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr., which now serves as headquarters for the world-renowned Tournament of Roses Parade. On the north end of the street lies the Gamble House, built by renowned Arts & Crafts movement architects Greene & Greene, but once home to David and Mary Gamble of Procter & Gamble fame. The annual Rose Parade on New Year's Day uses South Orange Grove Boulevard as a staging area for flower-covered floats, and it is where the parade begins. The Norton Simon Museum sits at the intersection of Orange Grove and Colorado Boulevard. The intersection of Fair Oaks Avenue and Colorado Boulevard is the center of Old Town Pasadena.


Pasadena is full of flocks of wild parrots. The city's website identifies them as yellowhead amazon parrots, but according to the Parrot Project of Los Angeles, the parrots fall into as many as five different groups. There is a cycle of regular public outcry about the noise and the sheer oddity of the birds' presence, but most Pasadenans seem to have come to accept the birds as part of the city's life. They can be seen year-round, but are especially noticeable in the winter.

Theories and myths abound on how these parrots came to claim Pasadena and surrounding towns as their home. Some believe they were smuggled in; some believe they are descendants of a flock that escaped after a huge fire at a nursery on the east side of town in the early 1960s. One rumor claims that a petshop owner released several parrots for an unknown reason, and the parrots bred into much larger numbers as time passed. Another myth is that a big truck carrying hundreds of parrots overturned in Pasadena a few decades ago and the birds bred and multiplied ever since.

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