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Pasadena, California - Page 2

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As the Route 66 traveler enters Pasadena a number of vintage motels and restaurants can be seen among the modern buildings. Be sure to check out the Astro Motel at 2818 East Colorado Boulevard in East Pasadena. Further along, you’ll come to Old Town, where a number of 1920’s and 30's buildings stand alongside more contemporary businesses such as the Rose City Diner, which provides an atmosphere of times long past. For another choice eating spot try Jake’s, which has been pleasing Route 66 travelers since 1947. Here, shoppers will also find numerous antique stores, boutiques and souvenirs.


Other opportunities in Pasadena include the Pacific Asia Museum just off Route 66 on North Los Robles Avenue and south of Colorado on Orange Grove is the Tournament House and Wrigley Gardens originally built by William Wrigley of chewing gum fame in 1914 and now home to the Tournament of Roses Association.


Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena in 1929

Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena in 1929, just a few years

 after Route 66 was commissioned.

This image available for photographic prints  and downloads HERE!




A drive north on Orange Grove leads to the Gamble House, a large Arts and Crafts era home built in 1908 by David and Mary Gamble of Proctor and Gamble fame. South of Colorado Boulevard at 39 South El Molino Avenue is the Pasadena Playhouse which has been entertaining Pasadena audiences for 80 years. In neighboring San Marino is the Botanical Gardens and the Huntington Library, Art Collections.


South Pasadena

There are three alignments from Pasadena to Los Angeles. The original 1926 route follows Colorado Boulevard to Fair Oaks Avenue to Huntington Drive, to Mission Road to Broadway and downtown Los Angeles. This Route takes you through South Pasadena, a city that continues to remind people of small town Americana, with its quaint stores and small town personality. There are several interesting stops here including the historic Mission West district, on Mission Street just east of Orange Grove Boulevard, that continues to reflect the same charm and character it did in the early 1920's and 1930's. The South Pasadena Museum, at 913 Meridian Avenue, occupies the original Meridian Iron Works building, one of the oldest structures still standing in the city. The museum features numerous artifacts tracing the history of the San Gabriel Valley. Across the street is the Century House, one of Pasadena's oldest residences and often utilized in motion pictures including two of the Halloween horror movies. An absolute "must stop” in South Pasadena is the Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain at the corner of Mission Street and Fair Oaks Avenue. This vintage relic has been fully restored and has been serving Route 66 customers since 1915. Also, at 1023 Fair Oaks Avenue, is the historic Rialto Theatre. Sadly, after 81 years of entertaining customers, the old movie house closed its doors in August, 2007 and its future remains unknown. Another interesting tidbit is that this old theater is allegedly haunted.  


A second alignment, referred to as Alternate Route 66, began in 1938 and went westward on Colorado Boulevard (also called Colorado Street), crossing the famous Colorado Street Bridge before turning south on Figueroa Street and rejoining the original route.


The Colorado Street Bridge spans the Arroyo Seco from Pasadena into Eagle Rock and actually predates Route 66, built in 1913. With its graceful arches spanning nearly 1500 feet across the riverbed, it is a work of art worth seeing. It also has a legend attached to it. Frequently called the Suicide Bridge, a number of people have leapt to their deaths on this old bridge, prompting numerous haunting tales. 


Colorado Street Bridge, Pasadena, California

Colorado Street Bridge, 1988.

This image available for photographic prints  and downloads HERE!


In 1964, this alignment of Route 66 was eliminated. This route will take you by the Norton Simon Museum just before crossing the Colorado Street Bridge.


The third and final routing from Pasadena to Los Angeles was on the Arroyo Seco Parkway, presently the Pasadena Freeway (110) and now a National Scenic Byway. The Fair Oaks off-ramp leads directly into downtown South Pasadena.


The parkway continues, providing beautiful views of the San Gabriel Mountains before winding through a chain of small parks and craftsman-era bungalows in the Highland Park neighborhood. There are several potential stops on your way to downtown Los Angeles including the Southwest Museum, the Lummis House, the Audobon Nature Center at Debs Park, Heritage Square, and the Los Angeles River Center and Gardens. As you near downtown other interesting side trips present themselves to Dodger Stadium, Union Station, Elysian Park, Chinatown, and the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument.


© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated July, 2010.



Also See:


Haunted Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena

Suicide Bridge on Route 66



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Arcade Block, Pasadena, California

Arcade Block, 15-21 W. Colorado Boulevard,

courtesy You-are-here.com


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