Things didn't always come up roses for...

Things didn't always come up roses for Pasadena. Once they came up oranges, lemons, grapefruit, walnuts, olives, almonds and barley.

Today, the city exudes the sweet smell of success from its famed annual Tournament of Roses parade, but the town took root around its citrus groves, pungent with the odors from frost-fighting, smoke-belching smudge pots.

Among the first houses to go up were the elaborate mansions that once lined Pasadena's South Orange Grove Boulevard, called "Millionaire's Row."

In January, 1874, it was little more than a dirt trail and the only house there was still under construction when settlers from Indiana gathered to buy up 1,500 acres of Rancho San Pasqual.

Those pioneers reorganized as the San Gabriel Orange Grove Assn., prospering in the citrus and olive business. They called their community Pasadena--a named derived from two Chippewa Indian words meaning "Crown of the Valley."

When the town incorporated in 1886--mainly to force its only saloon to close--it was still primarily an agricultural community.

At the turn of the century, the railroads, trolleys and climate made Pasadena a Mecca for tourists and a winter vacation haven for wealthy Midwesterners, including David B. Gamble of Procter & Gamble and William Wrigley Jr., the chewing gum king.

In 1890, in celebration of the mild, sunny winters, the first Tournament of Roses was held. For 12 years--before football took hold--fans flocked to Tournament Park (where Cal Tech is located today) to see chariot races guided by toga-clad "centurions."

At the turn of the century, the Pasadena Evening Star took immodest notice of the Crown City's advantages, rhapsodizing that it was "beautiful, stately and progressive," only 18 miles from the ocean "as the crow flies," protected on three sides by lofty mountains and open to sea breezes from the southwest.

The smudge pots are gone and Pasadena still enjoys the protection of those mountains, but these days the southwesterly winds are more likely to be laden with smog than with the refreshing scents of the sea.

Pasadena Inside Out

CAMEO ROLES: The courtyard of Pasadena's stately City Hall recently stood in for the Napa Valley town square in the recent movie "A Walk in the Clouds," starring Keanu Reeves and Anthony Quinn. Quinn rode through the rotunda on a white horse. The imposing 1927 landmark was an embassy in the "Mission Impossible" television series and the Beverly Hills police station in all the "Beverly Hills Cop" movies. A beaux-arts rendition of a Mediterranean-style mansion, the structure is topped like a wedding cake with a Spanish baroque dome.

SAY CHEESE: Short-order cook Lionel Sternberger is claimed to have thrown a slice of cheese on a burger in the 1920s--and according to local lore, the cheeseburger sizzled to life at a small hamburger joint on Colorado Boulevard.

RECYCLED ROADWAY: In 1900, when a 1.4-mile wooden bike path opened between the Green Street and Raymond hotels, more than 600 cyclists rode the asphalt- and sand-covered course. Promoter Horace Dobbins--later mayor of Pasadena--planned to extend the route to Los Angeles, but he didn't count on being overrun by a growing army of motorists. The project was abandoned--but not forgotten. Almost four decades later, the bikeway's proposed route was adopted by the builders of the Pasadena Freeway.

LANDMARK BRIDGE: The beloved Colorado Street Bridge, the "gateway to Pasadena," gained fame as a setting for scenes in hundreds of films and paintings. When the late actor William Holden was a teen-ager, he delighted in walking on his hands along the bridges outer railings 160 feet above the arroyo floor.

HILLBILLIES REDUX: Two years ago, 20th Century Fox studios came to the rescue of a developer and completed his unfinished mansion on South Oakland Avenue. With all its embellishments, it became the Clampett mansion in the big-screen remake of "The Beverly Hillbillies." They even let loose a herd of cattle on the front lawn, but that scene got cut.

By the Numbers


Date founded: June 19, 1886

Area in square miles: 23.2

Number of parks: 24

Number of city employees: 1,940

1995-96 budget: $314 million



Population: 131,591

Households: 50,409

Average household size: 2.52

Median age: 32.9



Median household income: $35,103

Median household income/L.A. County: $34,965

Median home value: $281,500

Employed workers (16 and older): 65,742

Percentage of women employed: 57.3%

Percentage of men employed: 76.1%

Self-employed: 5,291

Car-poolers: 9,815



Total number of stores: 1,384

Number of employees: 13,702

Annual sales: $1.6 billion



White: 47%

Latino: 27%

Black: 18%

Asian: 8%



One: 41%

Two: 34%

Three or more: 13%

None: 12%



17 and younger: 22%

18-34: 33%

35-49: 21%

50-64: 11%

65 and older: 13%



Cola drinks: $136

Cereal: $91

Pet food: $89

Baby-sitting: $106

Opera, ballet, other entertainment: $103

Furniture: $470

Health insurance: $599

Gasoline: $1,267

Eating out: $2,446



Hardware stores: 4

Jewelry stores: 35

Florists: 28

Shoe stores: 25

Liquor stores: 19

Furniture stores: 31

Retail bakeries: 28

Grocery stores: 49

Car dealers: 22

Restaurants: 299



Married couples with children: 20%

Married couples with no children: 23%

Other types of families: 17%

Nonfamily households: 40%

Source: Claritas Inc. Household expenses are averages for 1995. All other figures are for 1990. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World