Pasadena, California

Pasadena Freeway Sign

The city of Pasadena, located in the north-eastern edge of Los Angeles County, boasts a wealth of treasures that adorn its town. At 23.2 square miles, Pasadena is one of the larger cities of the San Gabriel Valley. 1Pasadena has many claims to fame, ranging from the annual Rose Parade and Rose Bowl to its leading touches in scientific and educational fields found in its many higher education centers. The large size of Pasadena can be noted well in the myriad number of zip codes it is home to, ranging from 91101-91191.2 This city remains one of the more cultured cities in the area with its historic jewels scattered across Pasadena, making it a very rich city with numerous attractions to offer.

History of Pasadena

Vista Del Arroyo

The history of Pasadena, much like that of the surrounding cities, began with Native American inhabitants occupying the area. The Hahamog-na tribe, a branch of the Tongva Nation, occupied most of the Los Angeles basin area, part of which also makes its way around into the modern-day Pasadena area. These Tongva Indians were later renamed Gabrelinos by the Spanish settlers who claimed the area and also built the San Gabriel Mission. Shortly after the incorporation of California into the United States in 1950, much of the area was purchased by Benjamin Wilson. Wilson was quite a well-known person of the area, with the list of notables including being the owner of Rancho Jurupa (or modern day Riverside, CA), being the mayor of Los Angeles, having Mount Wilson named after him, as well as being the son of famed World War II General George S. Patton Jr. Wilson then sold part of the area to another person, and the resulting area was incorporated into California as the Indiana Colony on January 31, 1874. However, for the area to receive its own post office, the Post Master General required another name more fitting the area. The Pasadena name came in as a translation from Indian suggestions, which roughly translated into "of the valley." From Pasadena´s early days, two grand hotel structures have survived: the Green Hotel (a co-op since 1926) and the Vista Del Arroyo, which now houses the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.3

Tournament of Roses

In addition to the above named long-standing structures, another staple of Pasadena´s rich history includes the Tournament of Roses, held annually on the 1st of January, dating back to 1890. This was done as a way to showcase and promote the "paradise" the residents lived in, which boasted of mild temperatures and beautiful sunshine as opposed to the harsh winters those living in the Midwest and Eastern coast faced. The Rose Parade, as it is affectionately called, has come a long way from its inception, with creations now featuring high-tech computerized animation and exotic natural materials from far around the world. The complex floats now often take nearly a year to create, design, and finalize in order to be shown off to millions of viewers around the world on New Year´s Day. To complement the already great festivities, the organizers of the Rose Parade decided to add in an annual football game, and thus the Rose Bowl was created in 1923, and has been hosting great collegiate games year in and year out since then. The Rose Bowl has been sold out since 1947, and as such, has been nicknamed "The Granddaddy of Them All." The contest that year was the first of an honored contract exclusively between the Pac-10 and the Big 10 conference. Now, as a member of the BCS, the Rose Bowl has hosted the National Championship of NCAA football in 2002, 2006, and will do so again in 2010.4 At present, the Rose Bowl is also the current home of the UCLA football team.

Pasadena Playhouse

Another gem located in Pasadena is the Pasadena Playhouse, which started with its first production in 1917. In 1937, the Playhouse was named the State Theater of California after it successfully completed the entire canon of Shakespearean works on a single stage. In its present form, the Playhouse is a nonprofit regional theater that puts on six plays annually. Under the guidance of current director of Sheldon Epps, the Playhouse has continued to remain its high level of prestige and prominence amongst other theatrical groups. The organization also maintains a strong tie with the community, inviting different members of other performing and theatrical groups to put on shows in the Playhouse.5

Old Pasadena

Old Pasadena

Looking towards the center of Pasadena one finds what is called "Old Pasadena" (also known as Old Town Pasadena by the locals). It is so aptly named because of the look and feel of the shops and buildings in the area. Old Pasadena is nationally recognized for its vibrant main street revitalization, in keeping the historic streets and alleyways with its brick buildings in functional and historic form. Along with the old look and feel it offers, it is still modern in the sense that there are an abundance of shops, restaurants, and entertainment areas to check out along Colorado Boulevard.6

Shopping and Entertainment in Pasadena - Paseo Colorado

Paseo Colorado

For more local shopping and entertainment value, people can turn to the Paseo Colorado, named also because it is located on Colorado Boulevard. This is an upscale shopping mall littered with big name shops such as Coach, Sephora, and Lucky Brand. To complement one´s shopping ventures are restaurants that offer fine dining as well as simple treats. For one´s viewing pleasure, there is also a 14 room cinema complex, known as Pacific Paseo 14 Theaters. Along with the mall, there is a 400-loft style condominium above the shopping center named Terrace Apartment Homes.7

Pasadena Transportation

Metro Gold Line

Along with the aforementioned shopping and entertainment hotspots, the city of Pasadena, in conjunction with the Los Angeles MTA, has implemented a state of the art light rail system that opens up a world of possibilities in terms of easily reachable destinations when used with other connecting rail systems. Regardless of the weather conditions or traffic delays, one may use the Metro Gold Line to get from Pasadena to Downtown Los Angeles in roughly half an hour´s time. In addition, by the year 2013, passengers will also be able to go to the eastern most edge of Los Angeles County, thereby opening even more doors for public transportation.8

NASA´s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA also has vested interests in the city of Pasadena, namely its Jet Propulsion Laboratory, or JPL. Established by the California Institute of Technology in the 1930s, JPL continues to function today as one of NASA´s most vital laboratories in dealing with past and present experiments as well as any space ventures that may need additional oversight unable to be attended to by other departments. Since its inception, JPL has continually been on the leading edge of scientific discoveries where NASA may be concerned, leaving behind a trail of innovation and new and advanced technologies. As of the most current update, JPL has 20 active spacecraft and nine instruments working on experiments. All these studies are being conducted by NASA to further explore what the stars and cosmos may yet to offer to mankind. 9

Education in Pasadena

California Institute of Technology

The California Institute of Technology, or Caltech, is a private research university ranked in the upper echelon of schools in the nation. This small school nestled in the big city of Pasadena is home to over two thousand active students during the school year, with each collegiate mind working towards developing new and wondrous things for the future.10 The mission statement of the school states that Caltech aims to "expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. [They] investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society." 11 US News and World Report ranks Caltech as the 4th best University in the nation.12

Pasadena City College

Pasadena City College is also another highly rated institution of higher education located in the city of Pasadena. Founded in 1924, PCC has continued since then to provide quality education at a discounted rate for those unable to attend a four-year college or university. In addition to helping students achieve an Associate Degree in a myriad number of areas, PCC also helps students to transfer to a University of California (UC) or California State University (CSU) school. In the fall of 2007, PCC enrolled nearly 30,000 students in its classes, and the number of high schools that fall within its districts makes PCC the third largest Community College in the entire United States. 13

Art Center College of Design

The Art Center College of Design is yet another richly well off institute that trains young minds to add to the wealth of humanity through design and aesthetics. Founded in 1930 in Downtown Los Angeles, Art Center moved to its current location in Pasadena in 1976. Regardless of where or when the campus is, Art Center was cited by BusinessWeek as one of the 60 best design schools in the world.14 Art Center offers degrees in both undergraduate and graduate level programs, encompassing a variety of different art and design fields. A number of companies continually recruit from the well-educated products of Art Center, including but not limited to Nike, Disney, NASA, and BMW.15

Pasadena Unified School District

Because of the large size of the Pasadena city area and the numerous number of residents residing within the city boundaries, the Pasadena Unified School District has an enormous task of educating the many young folk there. As such, there are 17 Kindergarten-5th Grade schools in Pasadena, all scattered about to ensure that students develop to "become confident learners and able explorers who are at home in the world." Upon completion of the 5th grade, students from the many campuses are funneled into one of five area middle schools to further their education. Additionally, PUSD offers three K-8th grade schools, similar to the other system in place in the sense that these students who graduate from the 8th grade will be able to readily and capably compete and excel in any college-preparatory high school. The four high schools in the Pasadena area are Blair International Baccalaureate School, Marshall Fundamental Secondary School, John Muir High School, and Pasadena High School. In addition to serving school children who reside within the Pasadena city boundary lines, PUSD also includes the city of Sierra Madre and the unincorporated community of Altadena.20

Pasadena Statistics

As of the 2000 census, the population of the city of Pasadena stood at 133,936 people, or 5,823 per square mile.16 Just over 50% of the population was Caucasian, about 15% were African-American, and about 10% were Asian. Nearly one-third of the population said they were of Hispanic of Latino descent. The 2000 census states that there were 51,844 households and 29,862 families residing in the city.17 That is the equivalent of 2.58 people per household and 4.49 people per family in the city of Pasadena. The estimated median household income in Pasadena was estimated to be about $66,465 in 2007, compared to a median household income of $59,948 for the state of California. The average value of a home or condo in Arcadia in 2007 was $705,100, compared to $532,300 for the state of California.18 Roughly 23.1% of the population in Pasadena is under the age of 18.


Daniel Chen
Daniel Chen
7220 N. Rosemead Blvd.,#118 San Gabriel CA 91775