What It Is: A regular Mayberry of a town, 3.44-square-mile South Pas is bordered by Pasadena to the north, San Marino to the northeast, Alhambra to the south and Highland Park to the west
Ethnic Diversity: 51% Caucasian, 16% Hispanic, 27% Asian, 3% African American
Median Household Income: $65,489
During the Mission San Gabriel era, what is now South Pasadena was part of a large Mission ranch called El Rincon de San Pascual. By 1843 that property was owned by Mexican Manuel Garfias, who built South Pasadena’s first home, El Adobe Flores, in 1846.
The Cawston Ostrich Farm opened in 1896 on the Arroyo Seco, and it became a huge tourist destination, as well as a merchant of ostrich-feather boas and hats.
Then & Now
In the late 1800s, American settlers arrived; from 1900 to 1920, trees and Craftsman bungalows grew together on wide gracious streets. Cited five times by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the nation’s “Most Endangered Places,” South Pas remains deeply embroiled in a decades-long battle to stave off the extension of the 710 Freeway, which would bisect the picturesque town and destroy many stately homes and mature trees.
Library: On El Centro. Why try to resist Pajama Story Time, the art history section or the inviting lawn?
Park: Garfield Park on Mission, home of sycamores, a playground and countless 4-year-old birthday parties
Farmers’ Market: A great one at El Centro and Meridian, Thursdays 4-8 p.m.
Soda Fountain: Fair Oaks Pharmacy & Soda Fountain has been the corner drug store since 1915, with a turn-of-the-last-century soda fountain and lunch counter
Parade: Everyone who’s anyone is at the 4th of July parade down Fair Oaks, followed by fireworks at the high school
Newspapers: The South Pasadena Review (since 1888), South Pasadena Patch.com
Don’t Be a Lawbreaker!
You, that’s right—you on that Schwinn with the banana seat—pull over!
It shall be unlawful for any person to operate or use…any bicycle propelled wholly or in part by muscular power…without first obtaining, from the director of finance, a license.
What He Said
“Sex in South Pasadena was something boys talked about but didn’t practice…The most a boy could hope for was heavy kissing with a girl after the third date. Only one or two girls in each class were reputed to allow boys to ‘cop a feel’”
- From Golden Boy: The Untold Story of William Holden, by Bob Thomas
The great Buster’s/Kaldi coffeehouse debate; Garfield Park with little kids; the superb Thursday-evening farmers’ market for noshing and socializing with neighbors; Mike & Anne’s patio for a sunny-day lunch; Mission Tile West for tileophiles.
Born in South Pasadena
“Steady” Ed Headrick, inventor of both the Frisbee and Frisbee golf
William Holden (moved here when he was 3)
Hilary Swank graduate from South Pas High
Trader Joe’s (born in 1966 and still standing)