Midwesterners who settled in Pasadena decided to showcase their climate and launched the Rose Parade in 1890. Postcard pictures were taken and mailed back so their friends and relatives could see what a mild New Year’s Day looked like.
The Rose Parade floats journey from their respective barns and line up on Orange Grove Boulevard by the Tournament of Roses mansion, formerly the Wrigley Mansion. The start of the six-mile parade route showcases the wealth that flowed into the area in the early 20th century.
Engineering marvels with trams leading to resorts in the local mountains and the observatory at Mt. Wilson displayed the technical prowess. The Gamble House, located to the north and east of the first major turn onto Colorado Boulevard, highlights the architectural achievements of the area.
Television cameras capture the color of the floats as they turn on to Colorado Boulevard near the Norton Simon Museum. Pasadena is know for its local museums and world-class collections both at the Norton Simon and the Huntington Library. Descanso Gardens in La Canada and the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia round out the sophistication in landscaping and art that came to the area in the late 1800s through early 1900s.
The bands and floats travel along Colorado and into Old Town Pasadena and toward the Playhouse District located within the first two miles. There is a distinct change in housing with the popularity of urban villages that have sprung up in the area marked by Del Mar Boulevard to the south and the freeway to the north. The stately mansions are a sign of a century past and the condos are a sign of urban dwellers who don’t want their own large houses to maintain.
Colorado Boulevard running from around Garfield to Lake Avenue is home to the Pasadena Playhouse and what was once one of the nation’s premier training grounds for Hollywood. The Playhouse has faced a few different periods of rough times but the show has gone on and remains a destination spot for some of the highest caliber popular theater in the area.
Other theaters in the area include Boston Court with its original and experimental types of performances and a Noise Within at Foothill Boulevard and Madre Street and its focus on classics.
White Collar Professionals
Lake Avenue near Colorado and south of the boulevard is the densely populated area for the city’s financial professionals and attorneys. It’s a mixture of large firms and professional entrepreneurs.
The parade moves past Pasadena City College at the halfway point. The city is an intellectual and educational paradox. The local school district has struggled to improve the quality of its schools while the California Institute of Technology about a half-mile south Hill and Colorado attracts some of the brightest minds in the world.
Pasadena City College is a bustling campus offering a low cost alternative to students who want to get their general education units finished before enrolling in a four-year school and adults returning to brush up on any number of skills.
The parade moves east toward suburban-style residences before it ends in Victory Park. Pasadena is a mix of inner city dwellings in the northwest area, chic trendy condos, and modest-looking homes in the east with values that still shock visitors from most parts of the country. The city has estates that rival Beverly Hills, homes in what look like rural areas along the mountains and vast swaths of suburbia.
The parade ends in Victory Park and provides a beautiful view of the San Gabriel Mountains. Trails near Allen and Altadena Drive or at the very top of Lake Avenue take hikers up to 3,000 foot heights quickly and offer stunning views of the LA Basin. Some days, the views are so clear that the ocean can be shimmering beyond downtown Los Angeles.
Pasadena and the unincorporated area of Altadena border the Angeles National Forest and display the diversity in landscaping as well as people.
While the Rose Parade started as a showcase for the area’s climate, it shows how the city of 139,000 has changed and continues to evolve.
Visit some of the places mentioned by clicking on these links:
Pasadena City College
Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau