If you stand on the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Briggs (the
eastern border of La Crescenta), you can look westward and almost see
Pennsylvania Avenue (the western border). When I look around, I think of
the way Irving Berlin described Lichtenberg in “Call Me Madam”: too small
to be a city, too big to be a town. That’s it -- an unincorporated
section of the county. Not enough industry to make incorporation
feasible, but not stagnant, either.
Things keep changing in this little bedroom community. Someone is
always doing something to change the character of the area. Businesses
move in and move out. Buildings go up and others come down. Right now,
there are two good-size construction projects going on: a handsome
building just east of the Episcopal Church on the corner of Foothill and
Rosemont, and a mysterious conglomeration of framework on the southwest
corner of that intersection. I don’t know what either is going to be, but
I am looking forward to seeing them finished.
Taking a ride down Foothill Boulevard, I started to remember what it
looked like just 20 years ago. The northeast corner of that intersection
now houses the busiest doughnut house in the area. Go by there early in
the morning, and you are sure to see someone walking across the street in
a bathrobe for that first cup of coffee. I can’t remember where we bought
doughnuts before they moved in.
A little further on, you can see a big, beautiful Ralph’s Market
standing where Builders Emporium once stood. That beautiful Ralph’s
Market moved into its present location from La Canada -- and Ross moved
into the building that it left empty when it did so.
Directly across the street from Ralph’s is a thriving Chinese
restaurant that has operated successfully in Pasadena for many years. The
new branch replaced a restaurant that had been operating on the site for
years -- a dramatic improvement to the neighborhood dining experience.
The traffic light on the corner of Foothill and Raymond wasn’t there
20 years ago. We have John Beach and members of the Crescenta Valley Town
Council to thank for its installation. I don’t have any statistics about
that corner, but I have to believe that the light has decreased the
number of traffic accidents by its presence.
There’s a new vitamin store across from Ralph’s now, and a new plumber
has moved in. This year, there’s a new glass and woodworking shop which
looks very interesting opened next to it. Remember the gun shop a few
doors down on the north side? It’s gone now. In its place is a
wonderful-looking business that specializes in constructing ponds and
doing very beautiful paving. I’ve seen a few of their driveways, and I am
Twenty years ago, Huckleberry Finn’s was the place to have breakfast
on the weekend. You had to get there early or wait in line outside until
someone came out. That was replaced by a Mexican restaurant, an omelet
house and Debbie Du’s Diner (I miss that girl). And now it’s an escrow
company, and you have to leave town to eat breakfast.
The Office Depot is an exciting recent addition to Foothill Boulevard.
Its one-stop convenience for all kinds of office equipment and supplies
has simplified shopping for homes and businesses. There are very few
things you can’t get there -- and the staff is really helpful.
Remember Chatham-Becker and Beno’s? They occupied the structure that
is now Orchard Hardware. You could buy new jeans and a washing machine to
launder them in the same store. It was great!
There’s a French bakery next to the liquor store (next to the Shell
station). That wasn’t here 20 years ago. And the adult book store that
once inspired so many heated discussions and unfriendly demonstrations is
There are changes that many people would be happy to see -- like an
enlarged library -- but there isn’t a lot of room available for an
adequate structure. There are a few lots that have been vacated by gas
stations, and the restaurant last occupied by Maxwell’s has been vacant
for several years, but unless they knock down a fair number of buildings,
they won’t be able to rebuild. There just isn’t any room.
Looking across the intersection of Pennsylvania and Foothill, you can
see a tremendous construction program starting. I’ve heard some
mutterings about the wisdom of building a larger Von’s Market there when
the area could better use something else. When I hear such talk, I remind
the complainer that the site in question is in Glendale, another town
with another set of priorities.
Businesses are expensive to start and to operate. Investors put their
money where they can expect a good return. If they aren’t opening a
business that you would like to see here, it’s because the prospects for
success don’t look good to them.
La Crescenta changes slowly and quietly. Every so often, it shakes off
the cobwebs and opens something new -- just enough to keep us on our