San Gabriel

Jan 22, 2011

Where It All Started

The Facts
What It Is:
A 4.1-square-mile city bordered by San Marino, Temple City, El Monte, Alhambra and South Pasadena
Population: 40,987
Sister City: Celaya, Mexico
Ethnic Diversity: Predominantly Asian, with a 31% Hispanic minority
Family Matters: 76% of residences are family (nonsingle), giving the city a high concentration of family homes
Median Household Income: $49,111

Key Players
Junipero Serra and his fellow missionaries established Mission San Gabriel Arcangel in 1771, making San Gabriel the oldest European settlement inĀ  Los Angeles County. San Gabriel’s fertile land was the home to North America’s first grapevines, in the late 18th century, and in the 19th century, as many as 11,000 gallons of wine were produced annually.

Telling Moment
John Steven McGroarty built the magnificent Mission Playhouse (later renamed the San Gabriel Civic Auditorium) in 1927 just to present his four-and-a-half-hour work, the Mission Play, which had already been running for fifteen years in a smaller venue.

Then & Now
The Chinese immigrants who began settling here in the 1970s have prospered, and today San Gabriel has a diverse Asian population and is home to one of the nation’s most thriving suburban Chinatowns, anchored by “The Golden Mile,” a stretch of Valley Blvd. lined with upscale Chinese restaurants, shops and offices.

Our Favorite…
San Gabriel Library, on S. Del Mar, has a growing collection in Chinese and Vietnamese
Park: Check out the Dinosaur Playground at Vincent Lugo Park on Wells St., which was saved from demolition after activists made a huge fuss
Arts Organization: The ornately Spanish San Gabriel Civic hosts everything from high school choirs to experimental theater
Parade: A Lunar New Year parade, complete with floats and dragons
Fiesta: The Mission Fiesta, on Labor Day weekend, is the town’s biggest blowout
Local Newspapers: San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Sing Tao Daily and Chinese Daily News
Hospital: San Gabriel Valley Medical Center, 626.289.5454
Web Site:

Don’t Be a Lawbreaker!
Aw nuts…well, then can I have a puppy?
No person shall have, keep or maintain, or have in possession or under control, any elephant, bear, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, lion, tiger, leopard, wolf, monkey or any poisonous reptile of any kind…without first applying to and receiving from the Council a permit.

What She Said
“…slumped in her new Lexus, blood all over the place, right there in the parking lot of Fabric World in San Gabriel.”
From The Jasmine Trade, by Denise Hamilton

Best Hangout
San Gabriel Square Mall (aka the Great Mall of China), at the corner of Valley and Del Mar, home to the great 99 Ranch Market and a dazzling array of restaurants.

Born in San Gabriel
Gen. George S. Patton Jr., who grew up in neighboring San Marino

Embarrassing Fact
While Mission San Gabriel brought wealth, wine and Christianity to Southern California, it also set a new standard for the near-slavery of Indians, forcing the Tongva to work on the 1.5 million acres the mission had claimed. The Tongva population eventually declined to just a few hundred.



Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

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Homage Pasadena