Author Archive


Ghost Theaters on Colorado Blvd. (Part 3)

Ghost Theaters on Colorado Blvd. (Part 3)

It’s been awhile since we last looked at Colorado Boulevard’s “ghost theaters”—marquees and other relics along the street; skeletal reminders of Pasadena’s once-glorious picture palaces. In part 3 of our ongoing series, we examine the stories behind three more of these vanished movie houses. Tower Theater (1930-1952) – 114 E. Colorado Blvd. A parking lot [...]

The Bordeaux That Nearly Was

The Bordeaux That Nearly Was

When we think of California wine today, we think of Napa, Sonoma and the Santa Ynez Valley, but from the 1850s until the 1880s, the San Gabriel Valley was by far the largest wine-producing region in the state. Rows of grapes once stretched for thousands of acres in what is now Pasadena, South Pasadena, San [...]

Artifacts of the Playhouse District

Artifacts of the Playhouse District

Old Town may have been Pasadena’s original town center, but for many decades the Playhouse District has been its cultural and artistic nexus. It’s also home to a staggering number of architecturally significant buildings, many of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Since the district has been in the news lately, [...]

Pasadena: Part of Upton Sinclair’s ‘EPIC’ Battleground (Part 2 of 2)

Pasadena: Part of Upton Sinclair’s ‘EPIC’ Battleground (Part 2 of 2)

When author Upton Sinclair swept the California gubernatorial primaries in August 1934, he achieved a phenomenal feat. Until then, Democrats in California had been a marginal presence, but Sinclair’s End Poverty in California (EPIC) campaign “brought a Democratic party into existence,” as Baltimore Sun reporter Carey McWilliams recalled in 1982, and was “the acorn from which evolved [...]

Pasadena: Part of Upton Sinclair’s ‘EPIC’ Battleground (Part 1 of 2)

Pasadena: Part of Upton Sinclair’s ‘EPIC’ Battleground (Part 1 of 2)

Early in October 1934, the California Real Estate Association was holding its annual convention at the Biltmore Hotel in Santa Barbara. “California Straight Ahead” was the theme of the three-day event, whose honorary guests included Harry H. Culver, founder of Culver City, Nevada governor Morley Griswold, and California governor Frank Merriam. The 1934 convention was [...]

Where Floats Once Mixed With Electric Guitars

Where Floats Once Mixed With Electric Guitars

Since 1964, the drab warehouse at 835 S. Raymond Avenue has served as one of several float-decorating venues for the annual Tournament of Roses Parade. From 1969-70, it also rang with the guitars of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and other bands. Though neither aesthetically nor acoustically impressive, in one year the Rose Palace presented a [...]

Cool-Weather Picnic Spots

Cool-Weather Picnic Spots

Mild winters were what once drew frost-bitten vacationers from the Midwest and East Coast to Pasadena. People as diverse as Henry Ford and John Muir chose to spend their winters here, rather than freezing their behinds off back home. Sunny days in December are something we at Hometown Pasadena appreciate, too. So while others are [...]

A Civil Rights Leader’s Pasadena Ordeal

A Civil Rights Leader’s Pasadena Ordeal

The headlines splashed across the local papers the next day. “Arrest Negro Lecturer for Morals Accusation,” stated the Pasadena Independent. Bayard Rustin, the civil rights organizer who would become famous for organizing the March on Washington, had been arrested on a charge of “vagrancy and lewd behavior” by Pasadena police officers. Rustin had recently returned from [...]

Bargains at Pasadena Museums

Bargains at Pasadena Museums

Pasadena and its surrounding communities are home to a wealth of museums, and even for those on a budget, it’s hard to beat the selection. The following all offer free admission to certain groups or on certain days—and for that, we’re grateful. Norton Simon Museum 411 W. Colorado Blvd., Old Pasadena 626.449.65840, nortonsimon.org For fans of [...]

City Film Censors Were the Bane of Local Theater Owners

City Film Censors Were the Bane of Local Theater Owners

In April 1914, the Pasadena Star reported that city officials were seeking censors “who are not extreme in any direction” to head a panel ensuring cinemagoers would not be exposed to lewd or immoral films. Though theater owners may have been dismayed, Pasadena’s censorship program delighted the moral watchdogs of the city. By March 1915, [...]

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Maude Woods - Opening October 22nd in Pasadena

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Camelot and Vine

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