Sierra Madre

Jan 20, 2011

Village of the Foothills

The Facts
What It Is:
A four-square-mile town bordered by Arcadia, Pasadena, and, to the north, the San Gabriel Mountains
Population: 11,146
Ethnic Diversity: 86% Caucasian (including 10% Hispanic), 6% Asian and not very many African Americans or Native Americans
Median Household Income: $65,900

Key Players
In 1881, Nathaniel Carter bough the 1,103 acres that would become Sierra Madre, most of them from Lucky Baldwin, the impresario of Arcadia; the town began to grow, in part because it was a gateway to Mt. Wilson.

Then & Now
Tucked into Sierra Madre’s canyons are waterfalls and old-growth oaks, which supported the Tongva and attracted 19th-century tourists. Today’s residents remain fiercely protective of the canyons.

Sierra Madre lacks even one stoplight and is home to the region’s only remaining volunteer fire department. It’s a favorite spot for such hometown events as the annual Wisteria Festival (March), Mt. Wilson Trail Race (May) and 4th of July Parade (well, July). The Volunteer Fire Department Marching Band leads the parade, then quickly changes costume to reappear later as the Community College Marching Band. Where’s the Community College, you ask? “Next to the airport!” they shout.

Our Favorite…
The Sierra Madre Library, on Sierra Madre  Blvd.
Building: The Essick House, home to the Sierra Madre Woman’s Club
Park: Memorial Park, with its band shell, play structure, newly restored cannon (because you never know…) and good congregation of day laborers
Cemetery: Pioneer, one of the loveliest in the SG Valley
Farmers’ Market: Wednesdays from 3-7 p.m. in the Mariposa parking lot at Baldwin and Hermosa
Arts Organization: Sierra Madre Playhouse for live theater productions
Hospital: Arcadia Methodist is closest; Sierra Madre is home to many convalescent and assisted-living facilities for seniors on the go-go

Don’t Be a Lawbreaker!
But we draw the line at hugging…
The Englemann Oak, Quercus englemanii, is designated as the official tree of the city of Sierra Madre…and shall be a preferred replacement tree for mitigation measure, and shall be given special consideration for preservation.

Best Hangouts
The sidewalk cafés on Baldwin at Sierra Madre Blvd.: Bean Town for ice cream and coffee, Village Pizzeria for pizza, and Starbucks (on of only two chains allowed in town) for mocha Frappuccinos.

Born in Sierra Madre
E. Waldo Ward, a local orchardist, started making marmalade in 1917, and it became a big seller. His family still produces his famed wisteria jelly, along with a large line of gourmet preserves.

It’s a Classy Town, and Yet…
Dude, Where’s My Car? was filmed in part here.



Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

Homage Pasadena