Feb 1, 2011

Home of…Homes

The Facts
What It Is:
An eleven-square-mile city due east of Pasadena
Population: 55,992
Ethnic Diversity: 46% Caucasian, 45% Asian, 11% Hispanic, 1% African-American
Median Household Income: $56,100

Key Player
During American statehood, Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin began developing the area as an agricultural paradise, building himself a Queen Anne mansion and a stable to house his race-winning thoroughbred horses; when settlers started pouring into California, he built houses for them to buy. Baldwin was a legendary ladies’ man who faced many a lawsuit from former wives and mistresses, one of whom was only 16. The Arboretum is what’s left today, after his once-vast fortunes dwindled, which forced Mr. B to rethink his nickname.

Then & Now
Long after Baldwin’s bust, Arcadia enjoyed a midcentury boom; the suburban architecture of the 1940s and ’50s still dominates, even in the many (near-empty) bars along Huntington Dr. for the party-til-your paunchy set. Preservationists are scarce, bowing to commerce and the development of a grand new Grove-style shopping mall right nest to the Westfield mall. This industrious, upscale bedroom community throws itself into its excellent public schooling system and many hours of private tutoring.

Our Favorite…
The beautifully equipped Arcadia Public Library on W. Duarte Rd. is jumping at 3 p.m daily. Kids working, or workin’ it—mondo cell phone usage. Can you say “Shhh”?
Dog Park: Eisenhower Park, 2nd & Colorado
Park: Arcadia Park, a huge county facility with tennis courts, baseball diamonds, an Olympic pool, violin lessons and caper dancing, whatever that is
Skate Park: Bonita, on 2nd Ave. Just southeast of Huntington; helmets required, citations happen
Breakfast: Watching the horses work out at Santa Anita Racetrack‘s Clockers’ Corner, weekdays in season (Dec.-Apr.) from 7:30 a.m.
Hospital: Arcadia Methodist, with a full ER, 626.445.4441
Web Site:

Don’t Be a Lawbreaker!
Say, can you direct me to the nearest house of ill repute?
Immorality prohibited. No person shall…suffer or permit any portion thereof to be used as a house of ill fame..nor direct persons thereto or elsewhere for immoral purposes.

What He Said
“By gads! This is paradise!”
“By gads! I’m not licked yet!”
Lucky Baldwin, upon arrival and at various intervals

Look Fast
The Santa Anita Racetrack is a magnificent art deco jewel, designed by Gordon Kauffman (who also did Hoover Dam).

Best Hangout
The Arboretum in the summer; come for the California Philharmonic’s evening music series on the great lawn.

Arcadia Notables
Athletes love Arcadia: Brad Bedell (Green Bay Packers), John Grabow (Pittsburgh Pirates), Scott Peters (San Francisco 49ers). Seabiscut raced here, and, bucking the athletic trend, Hunter S. Thompson wrote much of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in a motel across from the racetrack.

Embarrassing Fact
During WWII Santa Anita Racetrack was used as an “assembly center” for more than 20,000 good and loyal Japanese-American citizens, who lived here before U.S government relocation to internment camps. Actor George Takei, Star Trek’s beloved Mr. Sulu, slept here.



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