Old Town Pasadena

Old Town Pasadena, Pasadena’s original commercial center, arose from one of the most prosperous areas of California. In addition, throughout its history, it has also been known for various other things, for better or worse, including:

  • As a center for liberal causes, including suffragist and pacifist movements.
  • As a center of research, eventually giving rise to numerous important institutions and companies, including Caltech, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Beckman Instruments, and Aerojet. (In fact, with such a large concentration of tech-related companies, it was known as the “Athens of the West”.)
  • As an important artistic center – home to both Andy Warhol’s west coast debut and Marcel Duchamp’s first retrospective, both of which were held at the Pasadena Art Museum (now the Norton Simon Museum), one of the earliest modern art museums in the country.

Unfortunately, the area was blighted by urban decay between 1930 and 1980, witnessing the rise of flophouses, dive bars, pawn shops, adult bookstores, and massage parlors.

After undergoing a period of urban renewal and regeneration beginning in the late 1980s, the area is known today as one of Southern California’s most popular shopping and entertainment destinations, containing an active nightlife. It is home to various shops, including a shopping mall, as well as up-market restaurants, outdoor cafés, pubs, a movie theater, a museum, nightclubs, and comedy clubs. There are also several parking ramps which are free for the first hour.

Just some of the notable people who have either lived or spent time in Old Pasadena include: U.S. General George Patton, Upton Sinclair, Albert Einstein, L. Ron Hubbard, Alexander Calder, and Bobby Fischer.

  • Visited: Dec 2019
  • Nation Register of Historic Places: 1983

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