In the late 1880s, Pasadena enforced "anti-saloon" laws, but that didn't stop bars from creeping into the southern part of the city. To stop the onslaught of drinking establishments, the south broke away and incorporated into South Pasadena. Residents have regretted the name choice ever since, according to "South Pasadena 1888-1988: A Centennial History." Many bristled because the name gave the "annoying misperception" that the city was part of Pasadena or implied an inferior Pasadena on the "wrong side of the tracks." But the name has prevailed, in spite of attempts to change it to everything from San Pasqual to Bajadena.
Good schools and a small-town cohesiveness top the list of what South Pasadenans love. Rebecca Ryan, a South Pasadena librarian who grew up in the town, helped produce "Stories From Home," the city's oral history. In more than 40 interviews with residents ranging from age 9 to 90, the same sentiments were echoed, she said. "Everyone talked about walking around town and talking to local business people," Ryan said. "Those are the same things that I treasure with fondness."
Many local businesses have been around a long time, such as the Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain, which opened in 1915. The old-time quality attracts both residents and moviemakers.
Fans have sung out "Let's Do the Time Warp Again" for nearly 25 consecutive years at the Rialto Theatre's midnight screening of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." The 1925 landmark theater, on the National Registry of Historic Places, once staged vaudeville performances.
Good news, bad news
South Pasadena has battled the 710 Freeway extension, which would displace more than 900 homes and 7,000 trees, for more than half a century. The fight isn't over, but residents are jubilant over the Federal Highway Administration's suspension of support for the project — the latest turn of events.
Now the "battle of the budget" replaces the freeway fight as one of the city's main concerns: The city faces a gap of $400,000 in fiscal year 2005.
In a little more than a week, 67 residences sold out at Mission Meridian Village, a transit village scheduled for completion in January 2005. Dominic de Fazio of Coldwell Banker has a waiting list of 180 buyers hoping to purchase units, which range from 800-square-foot artists' lofts for $355,000 to three-bedroom "patio homes" for $839,500.