Author Archive


The Fate of the Pacific Hastings

The Fate of the Pacific Hastings

Driving by the empty Pacific Hastings Theatre the other day, I remembered when it used to be the premier spot in Pasadena to see new movies. Even after theaters like the AMC in Old Town and Paseo opened, nothing could beat the experience of the Hastings’ massive 60-foot screen. The theater closed in 2007, and [...]

Literary Pasadena

Literary Pasadena

From its earliest settling by Midwesterners, the Arroyo area attracted writers. One of the best known was Charles Fletcher Lummis, who in 1884 walked from Cincinnati to L.A. for a job as a reporter at the Los Angeles Daily Times. This was a brilliant publicity stunt, of course, and he arrived in town a famous [...]

Remembering Pasadena’s Palace of Rock

Remembering Pasadena’s Palace of Rock

It was 1981, and the auditorium of Pasadena’s Raymond Theatre was packed to the gills with excited teenagers and twentysomethings. Onstage, Wendy O. Williams, lead singer of the punk band the Plasmatics, had just spray-painted the word “F**K” onto an orange Chevy Nova that had been brought onstage. The crowd was going wild, having witnessed [...]

The Rose City Plays Chicago: A Look Back at The Sting

The Rose City Plays Chicago: A Look Back at The Sting

Watch the classic 1973 film The Sting and if you’re from Pasadena, you will probably see some oddly familiar locations. That’s because while it takes place in Chicago and Joliet, Illinois, much of George Roy Hill’s film was shot in Old Town Pasadena. Set in 1936, the film centers around an elaborate confidence game orchestrated by [...]

Her Land: Pasadena

Her Land: Pasadena

Author, social reformer and feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) wrote her most famous short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” while living in a small cottage near the corner of Orange Grove Boulevard and Arroyo Terrace in Pasadena. Southern California was experiencing a record heat wave, when Gilman, who was 29 at the time, sat down at [...]

A Very Punny Mystery (Resolved)

A Very Punny Mystery (Resolved)

It was one of those uniquely Pasadena landmarks when I was growing up. For most of my childhood, it simply read: “said T.E. Lawrence picking up his fork.” Located on the side of an 1880s-era brick building on Fair Oaks known as the Hotel Carver, it was an odd bit of dada graffiti. Everyone in town [...]

Cinema in Despair: The Washington Theatre

Cinema in Despair: The Washington Theatre

Growing up near the intersection of Los Robles Avenue and Washington Boulevard in the late 1980s and 1990s, I dimly remember “Cinema 21,” as it was then known. It was a mysterious, slightly seedy, endlessly fascinating building whose marquee with Spanish-language film titles (some of which may or may not have been adult films) intrigued [...]

The Rose Parade: Then and Now

The Rose Parade: Then and Now

Before the silly string, before the RVs and beer coolers and bleachers and picnic chairs, it all took place on a small chunk of land south of California Boulevard, known as “town lot.” Sandwiched today between the Caltech athletic buildings and a fenced-off residential neighborhood, the small sliver of grass known as Tournament Park was where [...]

Pasadena’s Oldest Library

Pasadena’s Oldest Library

It’s hardly the most eye-catching building in Pasadena, but I’ve always had a fondness for the small Hill Avenue Branch Library. Situated at the corner of Green Street and Hill Avenue, across from Pasadena City College, the library stands as an unassuming monument to Pasadena’s architectural golden age and is the oldest building in Pasadena’s [...]

Ghosts of Malls Past: The Plaza Pasadena

Ghosts of Malls Past: The Plaza Pasadena

Ah, the Plaza Pasadena. How to remember a mall that once had the dubious distinction of receiving an engineering excellence award from the Concrete Industry? Mention the Plaza Pasadena to a longtime Pasadena resident and you will most likely get either a chuckle or a scowl. More recent transplants to the city will not recall [...]

Maude Woods - Opening October 22nd in Pasadena

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