History Buff


A Former Fair Oaks Jazz Club – Shrouded in Mystery

A Former Fair Oaks Jazz Club – Shrouded in Mystery

The Club Onyx, at 109 S. Fair Oaks Avenue, was a jazz and blues venue in the black-owned Hotel Carver, once part of the historic Doty Block and still standing today across from the Hotel Green. Accounts vary as to what part of the building the club occupied, but it was either on the first floor [...]

History on View

History on View

While our resident History Buff, Matt Hormann, works on his next column, we’re starting the new year off with a guide to the best history-focused museums in the area, to inspire you to get out and explore them. If you’re looking to spend the day enjoying arts and architecture that tell a story, you need [...]

Come One, Come All, to Christmas Tree Lane!

Come One, Come All, to Christmas Tree Lane!

City Hall may boast an impressive Christmas tree, but our neighbors to the north in Altadena have the Rose City beat when it comes to holiday displays. Christmas Tree Lane and the colorful lights of the Balian Mansion have become beloved parts of area tradition. Near December 24th, Santa Rosa Avenue, as it is known the [...]

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 [...]

Pasadena’s Private Observatory

Pasadena’s Private Observatory

We were thrilled to be granted permission to include in the book At Home Pasadena some glorious images of Pasadena’s Hale Solar Observatory. It is an exceptional example of scientific and architectural history, once deeded to, and then abandoned by, the Carnegie Foundation, and now in the capable hands of Pasadena architects Liz Moule and Stefanos Polyzoides. We’ve based some of the scientific information that follows on a discussion with Don Nicholson, who appears with his colleague, Gale Gant, in some of these photos.

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 [...]

Maude Woods - Opening October 22nd in Pasadena

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