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sopas ej Sep 11, 2011 6:55 PM

Robinson's (or J.W. Robinson's) department store was the last of the original downtown Los Angeles department stores to open a branch outside of downtown. Beginning in the 1920s through the 1940s, stores like Bullock's, Coulters, The Broadway and the May Company began opening stores in other locations. But for some reason, Robinson's stayed downtown until it opened its first branch store in Beverly Hills in 1952; incidentally, the heir to the founder of Robinson's, Harry Robinson, and his wife Virginia, lived in Beverly Hills, in a mansion constructed in 1911. Theirs was one of the first luxury estates in Beverly Hills. Virginia Robinson died in 1977 a few days short of her 100th birthday. She had willed her 6.5-acre Beverly Hills estate to the County of Los Angeles, and it's now the Virginia Robinson Gardens, open to the public, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Harry and Virginia Robinson
http://img69.imageshack.us/img69/9734/picture1fb.png
activerain.com

J.W. Robinson's department store, 7th and Grand in downtown Los Angeles, circa 1920. The store itself was founded in the 1880s. This building was completed in 1915.
http://img163.imageshack.us/img163/5274/chs31331.jpg
USC Archive

In 1934, the building was remodeled with a Moderne façade. This picture dates from about 1940.
http://img12.imageshack.us/img12/8729/dw731881isla.jpg
UCC Archive

Robinson's first branch department store, Beverly Hills, opened in 1952. Picture circa mid or late 1950s.
http://img11.imageshack.us/img11/3748/dwz151isla.jpg
USC Archive

In 1958, Robinson's opened its third branch store in Pasadena (its 2nd branch store being a "winter only" store in Palm Springs). This was the last free-standing Robinson's, subsequent ones being built attached to shopping malls.

Robinson's Pasadena under construction.
http://jpg1.lapl.org/pics31/00035286.jpg
LAPL

Pasadena Robinson's Grand Opening Day, May 12, 1958. I guess by this time, the PE cars stopped running down Colorado Blvd. In the pic, you can see that the poles for the trolley wires hadn't been taken down yet.
http://img155.imageshack.us/img155/1306/s1958.jpg
USC Archive

I'm sure the Pasadena store opening was a really big deal at the time, being that the only other LA-area Robinson's were in downtown LA and Beverly Hills. It gave the blue-blooded Pasadena ladies-who-lunch and the little old ladies from Pasadena a reason to not have to schlep outside of Pasadena.

Speaking of which, here they are now, on Grand Opening Day, in their hats and gloves. I guess nothing changes when any new store opens, huh?
http://img11.imageshack.us/img11/1306/s1958.jpg
USC Archive

Robinson's merged with the May Company and became Robinsons-May in the late 1980s or early 1990s. It then eventually went out of business. When the merger occurred, the Pasadena store closed and was vacant. In 1994, it became a Target, the first multi-level Target in the US, and at the time, the 2nd largest Target store in square footage.

Target, 2011.
http://img813.imageshack.us/img813/512/p1180578.jpg
Photo by me


I've always wondered about the phrase "Little Old Lady From Pasadena." From what I've gleaned off the internet, the phrase dates back from the 1950s. By then, Pasadena (which started out as a wealthy resort town for Midwesterners and Easterners who later settled permanently) was supposedly full of old blue-blooded widows, being that men often die earlier than women, and these couples were among the original earlier settlers of Pasadena. Used car salesmen would use the line trying to sell a car, saying that a car was in good condition, being that it used to be owned by a "little old lady from Pasadena" who only used it to drive from home to church and back. Stand-up comics would use this line in some of their routines, and with the rise of television and variety shows, the gag would air on national TV, and the line spread across the country. Of course Jan and Dean had a hit song with the title in the 1960s. Recalling an old Sally Field "Gidget" episode where she becomes an unwilling tag-along accompanying her friend with her parents to buy a used car, there's a line when Gidget asks where they're going, and her friend says "Pasadena, silly, where else would you go to buy a used car?" That line now makes sense to me.

Handsome Stranger Sep 11, 2011 8:54 PM

Wow...I really want to thank EVERYONE for the fantastic posts that have been showing up here recently. The last ten to twelve pages have been terrific. I can't tell you how deeply I appreciate the incredible wealth of images and information that have been shared.

(Maybe it's just me, but I think this little corner of the Internet just keeps getting better and better. Long may it thrive as it does now.)

And now, on to my own meager contribution! A couple of nights ago while cataloging some DVDs I stumbled across a 1935 Vitaphone short called A Trip Thru a Hollywood Studio. I was fascinated with the opening shot, an aerial view of Hollywood taken from a plane flying east to west. Just for fun I took the shot apart and re-assembled every sixth frame in Photoshop to build a panoramic view. We're looking north here, with Hollywood Blvd. stretching horizontally (more or less) across the middle.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-t...40/0475-lg.jpg
[source: Warner Home Video]

This turned out to be more difficult than I expected, largely because of the uneven movement of the camera. Unfortunately there are some distortions in the upper center...mostly noticeably a major bend in Whitley Ave north of Hollywood Blvd., Cherokee Ave somehow split in two, and a couple of buildings on Cherokee that are doubled.

I made a couple of additional attempts using other photo-stitching software, but the results were hideous. I'd kind of like to take another stab at this little project, so if anyone has any suggestions on the ideal software for this task, please let me know.

In the meantime, here are a few additional frame grabs from A Trip Thru a Hollywood Studio, showing aerial views of some of the studios as they existed in 1935.

Fox
https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-h...%252520Fox.jpg
[source: Warner Home Video]

Warner Brothers / First National
https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-9...252520Natl.jpg
[source: Warner Home Video]

Warner Brothers / First National
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-b...252520Natl.jpg
[source: Warner Home Video]

MGM
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-J...%252520MGM.jpg
[source: Warner Home Video]

GaylordWilshire Sep 11, 2011 9:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sopas ej (Post 5407625)
Robinson's (or J.W. Robinson's) department store was the last of the original downtown Los Angeles department stores to open a branch outside of downtown. Beginning in the 1920s through the 1940s, stores like Bullock's, Coulters, The Broadway and the May Company began opening stores in other locations. But for some reason, Robinson's stayed downtown until it opened its first branch store in Beverly Hills in 1952.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Y...2520PM.bmp.jpgUSC Archive


It's interesting that in the Moderne remodeling the Seventh Street marquee was streamlined (at right above; see second and third pics below) but the one at the Grand Street entrance (at left above) was retained from the old configuration. And it's still there:

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-L...2520PM.bmp.jpgGoogle Street View

http://jpg3.lapl.org/pics36/00067823.jpgLAPL

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-D...2520PM.bmp.jpgGoogle Street View
(Hondas and Kias, or whatever they are, just aren't the same...)

GaylordWilshire Sep 11, 2011 9:33 PM

Major scrolling!
 
http://jpg1.lapl.org/maps/lg//MAP_0032.jpgLAPL

I've never seen this one--interesting to see Sunset Boulevard labeled as Beverly--but what really got me is the picture at the lower right of the map. A suspension bridge, apparently for golf carts!

And it's still there:

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-1...2520PM.bmp.jpgGoogle Earth

ethereal_reality Sep 11, 2011 10:51 PM

:previous: I had no idea the Bel-Air Country Club has that cool bridge (for golf carts I presume).

Excellent posts sopas_ej and Handsome_Stranger.
re: The downtown Robinson's building. It always floors me to see the original design next to the 1934 remodel.
I had to stare at it for several minutes with my mouth open.

re: Handsome_Stranger's re-assembled aerial from the Vitaphone short..
Great job!! I don't see how that was possible with the bobbing airplane. I'm truly impressed.

Los Angeles Past Sep 12, 2011 8:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sopas ej (Post 5407625)
In 1958, Robinson's opened its third branch store in Pasadena (its 2nd branch store being a "winter only" store in Palm Springs). This was the last free-standing Robinson's, subsequent ones being built attached to shopping malls.

Pasadena Robinson's Grand Opening Day, May 12, 1958. I guess by this time, the PE cars stopped running down Colorado Blvd. In the pic, you can see that the poles for the trolley wires hadn't been taken down yet.
http://img155.imageshack.us/img155/1306/s1958.jpg
USC Archive



Thanks for the info on the Pasadena Robinson's! Mom used to take me along to go shopping there a lot in the early 1960s. I didn't realize until now just how new the building was back then. I have lots of memories of Robinson's Pasadena. I lost my first baby tooth there! I remember really liking the turkey sandwiches at the Round Robin Restaurant on the top floor of Robinson's. They had a great coin and stamp department there, too. Mom could park me there for an hour or more and do her shopping without me being under foot all the time. Finally, my weirdest memory of the Pasadena Robinson's is hearing Napoleon XIV's "They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha Ha!" on the radio for the first time ever as we drove out of the Robinson's parking garage. :jester:

I only remember going to the downtown Robinson's once, and that was to get one specific coin for my collection: a U.S. 20-cent piece. In fact it was the last coin Mom ever bought for me. I think that was in 1967. I remember the store was pretty run down inside. Their Round Robin Restaurant was downright shabby.

In 1966, Robinson's opened a large store at West Covina Plaza, which was only about 7 miles from our home, so we stopped going to the Pasadena store after that. It was originally a standalone store, but was connected to the mall as an anchor store when West Covina Plaza became an all-indoor mall in the mid-1970s. There was a small Clifton's Cafeteria adjacent to the West Covina Robinson's, too. I seem to recall that the West Covina Clifton's stayed open for years after the iconic googie Clifton's at nearby Eastland Center closed its doors.

I also remember Desmond's had a standalone store right next door to Robinson's at West Covina Plaza, though the building was a Tower Records for much longer than it was a Desmond's. The 1960s Robinson's was remodeled quite extensively in the late 1980s, when West Covina Plaza underwent a vast expansion and became Westfield West Covina. Sears moved in where Robinson's was, and Robinson/May's moved into a new anchor store at the opposite end of the mall. I never went into that store. I think it's a Macy's now.

Sorry for the rambling!

-Scott

Los Angeles Past Sep 12, 2011 9:38 AM

Bullock's Pasadena
 
My memory's so poor - did we ever talk about Bullock's Pasadena on this thread? I think Mom and I went to Bullock's even more than we went to Robinson's. Anyway, I've always been curious about its history. Is anyone familiar with this building?

http://i699.photobucket.com/albums/v...spasadena1.jpg
Postcard from my collection, photographer and publisher unknown.

The caption on the back of this postcard reads, "Bullock's Pasadena - Internationally recognized as one of the world's most beautiful stores. Famous for its distinguished contemporary architecture as well as for its atmosphere of graciousness, it is known as "The store for all Southern California."

For some reason, I was quite fascinated with the ornate elevators inside Bullock's. They also had an enormous fountain inside the building with what looked like a million dollars in change on the bottom that people had thrown in as a wishing well type thing. Anyway, this was the first store I can remember where Mom used a credit card, which in those days was an embossed aluminum card called a "Charge-a-plate." (At least I think that was its name.) Bullock's had these weird contraptions with a bakelite handle where they'd put the Charge-a-plate in it, then put in a paper form with carbon paper over it, then they'd push down on the crank and produce a credit receipt. (A kind of precursor to the "knuckle-buster" charge card machines we're all familiar with.)

I remember there was an I. Magnin store on the other side of Bullock's parking garage, but Mom thought I. Magnin was overpriced and I don't think we ever went in there. There was a Haggarty's across the street, though, and we went there a lot, but they HATED having little children in their store and when they said as much to my mom once she swore she'd never shop there again. Near Haggarty's was a Blum's restaurant where I was always treated to Chantilly cake. Mom used to say she first took me to Blum's when I was only 3 days old. Funny how I can remember trivial stuff like this that happened over 50 years ago, but I often can't remember things from one minute to the next now. :shrug:

-Scott

EDIT: Google's so amazing. Turn's out I got the name right, but the spelling wrong. It was actually called a "Charga-plate" (only one hyphen).

http://i699.photobucket.com/albums/v...arga-plate.jpg
cultureandcommunication.org

nostalgie Sep 12, 2011 6:48 PM

Re: Bullock's Pasadena. When it first opened (1949?) it was billed as the first truly suburban branch of a major department store. It had EVERYTHING! Great clothes, housewares, furniture, silver, china, etc., and a lovely restaurant (for all I know, the restaurant is still there). At one point, the new owners were making noises about tearing the building down, but it's now protected (correct me, someone, if there's a working memory out there! Like Scott, my short-term memory is fading fast!). I remember shopping at Bullock's Pasadena from the mid-fifties with Mom & Dad up through the mid-eighties, when I lived in South Pasadena. Yes, there WAS an I.Magnin just to the south on Lake (the building is still there - a really pretty white deco facade).
I remember the Robinson's in Pasadena, too, though I never shopped there. The downtown Robinson's was separated from another big store, I think Bullock's, by a small alley, with a sidewalk cafe, so that shoppers could shore up their strength & hit both stores in the same day.

Fab Fifties Fan Sep 12, 2011 8:37 PM

Gahhhh Bullock's Pasadena!!!!
 
http://i699.photobucket.com/albums/v...kspasadena.jpg
Postcard from my collection, photographer and publisher unknown.

So I log on here and there is a picture of Bullock's Pasadena, the location of my first childhood memory of utter humiliation!

I grew up in Albuquerque, NM but every summer our family vacationed in California. Normally we stayed in Orange County, where my dad's brother had a large house with a swimming pool, but in 1957 we stayed with my mom's cousin in her newly built Pasadena house.

My day of humilitaion was, to be exact, July 12, 1957. I know exactly because it was the day after my fourth birthday that we had celebrated at Disneyland. That had been a GREAT day!

So on the 12th my mom and cousin decided that we should go shopping at Bullock's. When mom lived in LA during the war, and worked right down Broadway from Bullock's, she had fallen in love with the store. When she heard there was one in Pasadena, she just had to go shopping.

The journey started out just fine as we started by having lunch in the Tea Room. I do remember that it was the very first time I ever tasted carrot cake and I loved it (still do). Once we left the Tea Room, things went down hill really fast for me.

Mom and Ruth (cousin) both wanted to buy new dresses for a big night out of dinner and dancing they were planning for the upcoming weekend. We spent what felt like an eternity to my four year old self trolling the dress department. Mom and Ruth both pulled out stacks of dresses they wanted to try on. When we trooped to the fitting rooms, mom had my older sister sit in a chair just outside and read her ever present Nancy Drew Mystery book. She had me come with her into the fitting room but I became so antsy and loud that she opened the door and had me go out to sit with my sister.

I came out of the fitting rooms and probably because my sister's face was buried in her book, she didn't see me. I have always been very easily distracted by shiny things, so I must have seen something sparkly and headed out on my own.

When mom finally came out of the fitting rooms she asked Kathy where I was and got a shoulder shrug as an answer. I guess utter pandemonium ensued at that point with mom, Ruth, Kathy and assorted salespeople searching for me throughout the women's department. Mom was crawling on her hands and knees looking under racks and Ruth was running up and down the aisle clutching her pearls and calling my name. My sister, I'm sure, was only acting like she was looking for me because she had been anxiously waiting for me to leave since the day they brought me home from the hospital four years before.

The whole group, now including store security, searched for me for about half an hour. Security finally found me, on another floor, in the furniture department sitting in the middle of a bright orange sofa clutching a green pillow and a brown pillow happy as a clam. (They should have known then that I would end up being a designer as an adult!)

Humiliation part one; When mom finally reached the furniture department, she grabbed me by the wrist (FIRMLY) and asked where the ladies room was located. She then literally drug me through the crowded store to the ladies room and paddled my little butt good (it was the fifties and that was standard punishment then).

Humiliation part two: After the paddling and what I'm sure was a very thorough lecture with one of her very long red nails pointing in my face, we left the ladies room and rejoined the troops. We had to go back to the women's department for mom to purchase what she had selected and I can remember the sales clerk glaring at me.

After that we ended up in the children's department. I am still being firmly led by the wrist and afraid to make a sound. And then, horror of horrors, my sister spots a rack of toddler control harness and leash contraptions. She, delightedly, points them out to mom who, still mad at me, thought they were a great idea! The only one they had that would fit me was a glow in the dark red and blue plaid, yup she bought it. I started crying when I realized what was going down but that stopped quickly after the red fingernail resumed pointing in my face.

For what felt like hours afterwards, I was led around on that damn leash. I remember that we eventually left Bullock's and walked to some smaller stores down the street. I thought everyone we passed was looking at my leash. Yep, even four year olds get embarrassed folks!!!

The only thing that saved me that day was getting back to Ruth's house and running to my dad. He saw the leash and blew a gasket! Mom was always the strict disciplinarian and dad the big teddy bear but when I saw him get angry I thought he was mad at me. Not so, he gave mom about ten minutes of "nobody is going to truss my boy up like a rabid mongrel, not even his mother!" Even to her last days, mom would restate that sentance and say that was the maddest she ever saw him in their 21 years of marriage!!! I never saw him that mad again AND I never saw that damned leash and harness again!

It amazes me that I still remember so much of that day and how I felt but if you ask me what I had for dinner two nights ago, I'd be hard pressed to tell you!

So, thanks for posting the picture and letting me relive my humiliation Scott! Just kidding, it became a very funny story in our family and all in all that was a great vacation! Disneyland and carrot cake, nirvana!

~F3

GaylordWilshire Sep 13, 2011 12:17 AM

Across from Hattie McDaniels's house is the William J. Washburn house at 2200 S Harvard. Here are some thens and nows:

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-w...2520PM.bmp.jpg
Btw, exteriors of the house at right have been used in numerous movies and tv shows, but this youtube video of Robert
Plant and Alison Krause's "Please Read the Letter" has moody interior shots--worth putting up with the annoying ad.
(I think I might have posted this before, but think it bears repeating.)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3Xi5gvZ7Kk


https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-c...SHarvard-2.jpg

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-c...2520PM.bmp.jpg

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-M...20PM.bmp-3.jpg

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-B...2520PM.bmp.jpg

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Z...2520PM.bmp.jpg

Dylan Leblanc Sep 13, 2011 12:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Handsome Stranger (Post 5407725)

And now, on to my own meager contribution! ...

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-t...40/0475-lg.jpg
[source: Warner Home Video]


Wow great work with that HS!

sopas ej Sep 13, 2011 1:25 AM

Ah, the Bullock's Pasadena. I still refer to it as such sometimes, for a while I refused to call it Macy's. But of the two bona-fide department stores left in Pasadena (the other one being the bunker-style 70s tannish/brownish brick Macy's, originally the Broadway, at the Paseo Colorado mall), it's the nicest. I'm glad it still exists. A few years ago, the store had closed for a number of months so that the interior could be restored to somewhat of its original splendor. Even before the touch-up, it was still a nice place (sorry to say that it no longer has a restaurant). Also while restoring the interior, the street side facade was restored to its original splendor, the windows having been blacked out many years ago, but they're now clear again, displaying the wares inside. It is very unlike a modern department store. Each department is really in their own spaces, almost like separate rooms, rather than one large selling floor. Kind of inconvenient to get around, but I think that's precisely how it was designed, back when people were less hurried, and when one took their time shopping at a department store. And like the Bullock's on Wilshire Blvd., there are no escalators in the Bullock's er Macy's Pasadena. You must take the stairs or the elevator. Also, a number of years ago, a development of shops was built around the Bullock's building. Believe it or not, it actually complements the old building, but of course it had to be redesigned, being that many people protested that the original project would have dwarfed the Bullock's building; there were originally plans to include a cinema complex but that was axed.

By the time I moved to South Pasadena in 1998, what was once the I. Magnin had become a Borders Books, or at least that's how I remember it being the case. Unfortunately, the Borders closed earlier this year; it was a regular hangout of mine, but I also still hang out at the Vroman's bookstore on Colorado. I never go to the Barnes & Noble in Old Town, I always thought that bookstore sucked.

The Bullock's Pasadena was actually what created the South Lake Avenue business district. I believe it opened in 1947, on what was then a mostly residential street. Since the 1920s, Pasadena's business/commercial activity was gravitating east from the original downtown (now Old Town). And depending on which old-timer you ask, some say that by the 1920s, Old Town was already on the skids. What is now dubbed as Pasadena's Playhouse District/Civic Center area is where the more fashionable businesses were located during the time between the World Wars, and then after WWII, South Lake Avenue became THE place to shop in Pasadena, spurred by the creation of the Bullock's. The City of Pasadena also wanted to make Lake Avenue its new downtown, encouraging high-rise office development along Lake (though a height-limit of about 10 or 11 stories was created). South Lake Avenue started losing its luster by the 1990s; I remember when a lot of people got all bent when a Ross Dress For Less opened up across the street from Bullock's in the mid-90s. Even now, South Lake Avenue isn't what it once was. Lots of vacant storefronts, definitely not as upscale as it once was. Old Town Pasadena now gets all the attention, having been cleaned up (and a little too chain-storey for my taste).

Here's an old color slide of the Bullock's, taken in 1949:
http://img215.imageshack.us/img215/2...byssilberm.png
ssilberman

What amazes me about this photo is how dumpy and antiquated the cars look as compared to how modern and contemporary the building looks, even today. It's also weird for me to see the trolley wires and tracks down the center of South Lake Ave., being that there's a landscaped median through there now.

Not sure when this photo was taken, but it looks pretty early on. This is pre-parking structure, pre-I. Magnin/Borders Books building... is that an apartment building just south of it?
http://img580.imageshack.us/img580/2...elblogspot.png
bennelblogspot.com

This building was very revolutionary for its time, being that it was even more car-oriented than the Bullock's Wilshire in LA. Bullock's Wilshire only had a front and back entrance, the one in back being more grand, for the benefit of people pulling into its back parking lot. But the Bullock's Pasadena had 3 main entrances, two of them facing the parking lot that surrounded the building on 3 sides. Plus, each entrance was to a different level of the building. Incidentally, the South Lake Avenue business district was planned with cars in mind, being that all of storefronts have large surface parking lots behind them.

sopas ej Sep 13, 2011 1:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Los Angeles Past (Post 5408168)
There was a Haggarty's across the street, though, and we went there a lot, but they HATED having little children in their store and when they said as much to my mom once she swore she'd never shop there again. Near Haggarty's was a Blum's restaurant where I was always treated to Chantilly cake.

Haggarty's and Blum's in 1965:
http://jpg3.lapl.org/pics23/00061156.jpg
LAPL

Where that Barker Bros. is, was for years a Tower Records on the upper level, and a Good Guys on the lower level. It's now a Walgreens on the lower level and a Sit N' Sleep on the upper level. So yeah, South Lake Avenue isn't the tony shopping district it once was.

sopas ej Sep 13, 2011 2:29 AM

Say, does anyone who used to go into Pasadena back in the day, remember Pie N' Burger? It still exists. And they don't take credit or ATM cards.

More 1965 South Lake Avenue, Pasadena:
http://jpg3.lapl.org/pics23/00061211.jpg
LAPL

Rendering of Haggarty's, 1953, "to be constructed in the 300 South Lake Avenue block in Pasadena, opposite Bullock's."
http://jpg1.lapl.org/pics49/00044339.jpg
LAPL

JeffDiego Sep 13, 2011 3:30 AM

Bullocks Pasadena
 
Sopas:
Please no offence, and I may be mistaken, but that wonderful old photo of the magnificent Bullock's Pasadena looks earlier than 1949 because of the cars. My memory was that the store dated from 1947, but according to Wikipedia, it was built in 1944. What a gorgeous eye-popper it must've been when it opened, absolutely the last word in sophisticated 1940's modern architecture. I remember it still being extremely classy in the 60's.

JeffDiego Sep 13, 2011 3:39 AM

Bel Air Mansion
 
Unless someone has already posted this, a recent article in the L.A. Times was about the 1924 Bel Air mansion built by old-time author Gene Stratton Porter, and the strange twist of fate that prevented her from living in the house just weeks before she was to move in.
http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep...tuary-20110903

sopas ej Sep 13, 2011 6:50 AM

Evolution of Pasadena's Old Town in Somewhat of a Nutshell

To think Old Town Pasadena would have been destroyed in the 1970s.

By then, Old Town had become seedy, full of dive bars, thrift stores, pawn shops, etc. Pasadena's downtown had moved east to Lake Avenue, and the city had plans to basically knock down all of Old Town Pasadena and turn it into an office park with non-sidewalk-oriented medium-rise office buildings and parking garages. When old landmarks started to fall to the wrecking ball, concerned Pasadenans said "oh HELLZ no!" and thus was born Pasadena's strict ordinances and movements to save old buildings.

Old Town is where the city of Pasadena began, basically. In Los Angeles, as it developed, it started moving west. In Pasadena, as it developed, it started moving east. Anyway, the intersection of Fair Oaks Avenue and Colorado Street (now Boulevard) was the main crossroads of the town. The city was incorporated in 1886, but it was founded in the 1870s, first by Midwesterners wanting to create an agricultural colony, but later it became a resort town for wealthy Easterners and Midwesterners, looking for some place to go for the winter. Many later became permanent residents.

Looking southeast at Fair Oaks and Colorado, sometime between 1908-1910
http://img684.imageshack.us/img684/5...utheastfai.jpg
USC Archive

These people all look so properly dressed. Might they all have been Midwesterners? There's a street in the eastern part of Pasadena called Michillinda Avenue. Michillinda is a hybridization of Michigan, Illinois and Indiana.

Looking east on Colorado at Fair Oaks, circa 1907. Look at that car on the left.
http://img98.imageshack.us/img98/552...stoncolora.jpg
USC Archive

Northwest corner of Fair Oaks and Colorado, circa 1890s.
http://img692.imageshack.us/img692/5...roaksandco.jpg
USC Archive

Looking northeasterly along Colorado at Fair Oaks, sometime around the first decade of the 20th Century.
http://img560.imageshack.us/img560/9...asterlyonc.jpg
USC Archive

Look at all of those ornate Victorian façades. You can also see congestion at that intersection. By the time that the automobile became more widely in use, this section of Colorado had become a bottleneck. So in the late 1920s (1928-1929 I believe?), the City embarked on a widening project of Colorado, about a quarter mile of it through what is now Old Town. This involved cutting back 14 feet of buildings on either side. Therefore, all of the old Victorian façades were lost, the fronts of the buildings being remodeled into Deco and Spanish-styles (some buildings even losing their upper floors). If you look at the buildings from their alley sides, though, you can see that the buildings are much older than their fronts would suggest.

Looking east at Fair Oaks and Colorado, 1929. You can see that the corner building has been demolished, and the others are going to be shaved off.
http://img200.imageshack.us/img200/4...ngeastfrom.png
Huntington Library Collection

Looking east on Colorado towards Fair Oaks, circa 1930. The widening is complete.
http://img839.imageshack.us/img839/3...ngeastatfa.png
Huntington Library Collection

Southeast corner of Colorado and Fair Oaks, circa 1930.
http://img23.imageshack.us/img23/4428/picture3uc.png
Huntington Library Collection

Southeast corner of Colorado and Fair Oaks, August 2011.
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Photo by me

More run-down period, southeast corner of Colorado and Fair Oaks, 1989.
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LAPL

Run-down but happy times, Rose Parade, 1950
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LAPL

Northwest corner of Fair Oaks and Colorado, 1984. Talk about really run-down.
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gardnerblog

Northwest corner of Fair Oaks and Colorado, August 2011.
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Photo by me

East on Colorado at Fair Oaks, circa 1937.
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LAPL

East on Colorado at Fair Oaks, August 2011. In the background there you can see the boxy, Brutalist AT&T building.
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Photo by me

Looking north on Fair Oaks at Colorado, circa late 1920s.
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Huntington Library Collection

Looking north on Fair Oaks at Colorado, August 2011
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Photo by me

In the background of the above photo, you can see one of the bland buildings of the Parsons engineering complex, which was built from the 1970s-1980s. A lot of old buildings were torn down for this office building campus.

Looking west on Union Street from just west of Fair Oaks, 1920s.
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Huntington Library Collection

Looking west on Union Street from just west of Fair Oaks, August 2011.
The buildings on the right side from the earlier photo are all gone. This is part of the Parsons engineering complex I mentioned above. To think all of Old Town Pasadena might have been demolished for complexes like this. The Parsons complex consists of two lower-rise buildings and one medium-rise building, with plenty of surface parking and a parking structure.
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Photo by me

Looking east on Colorado towards Broadway (now called Arroyo Parkway), circa 1925.
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USC Archive

Looking east on Colorado towards Arroyo Parkway, August 2011.
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Photo by me

That block just east of Arroyo Parkway has been destroyed, none of those buildings from the previous photo exist anymore. They were replaced by an awful black-windowed office building, which, judging by the architecture, was probably put in in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Across the street from it, those other buildings from the earlier photo are all gone now too, replaced in the early 1970s by what is now the high-rise, ugly (in my opinion) Brutalist AT&T building I mentioned some photos up. This block is a total dead zone in terms of pedestrian activity and things to look at while walking. One of the buildings destroyed to build the AT&T building was the old T.W. Mather Company department store building, a local Pasadena department store. You can see part of it here in this 1936 photo, the ornate building left of center:
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USC Archive

Here it is being knocked down in 1971:
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Huntington Library Collection

The Dodsworth Building, southwest corner of Fair Oaks and Colorado, circa 1926, according to the caption. Definitely before the pre-widening of Colorado Blvd., but what's confusing me is the tri-light traffic signal, as opposed to the banjo signal.
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Huntington Library Collection

The Dodsworth Building, southwest corner of Fair Oaks and Colorado, post-Colorado Blvd. widening--like WAY post widening, like August 2011. As you can see it lost some of its length, and was remodeled into a Spanish-Deco-ish motif. In the early 1990s, this building had a very cool old restaurant called the Dodsworth, which I only ate at once. It was a very cool art-deco diner type of place. In the early 1990s, I didn't really hang out in Pasadena, I thought it was kind of ghetto/barrio at the time, being that Colorado Blvd. was a big cruising street on weekends, with the cars that went boom. As you can see, now there's a Cheesecake Factory there-- I hate Cheesecake Factory, and this particular one often has long lines of Asians waiting outside to get into it.
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Photo by me

Looking south on Fair Oaks from just north of Colorado, circa 1910.
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USC Archive

Looking south on Fair Oaks from just north of Colorado, August 2011.
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Photo by me

While walking around Old Town Pasadena, I saw this 1929 Ford Model A Coupe. I thought it was somehow perfect for this part of town. It was in such great condition, too.
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Photos by me

sopas ej Sep 13, 2011 6:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JeffDiego (Post 5409133)
Sopas:
Please no offence, and I may be mistaken, but that wonderful old photo of the magnificent Bullock's Pasadena looks earlier than 1949 because of the cars. My memory was that the store dated from 1947, but according to Wikipedia, it was built in 1944. What a gorgeous eye-popper it must've been when it opened, absolutely the last word in sophisticated 1940's modern architecture. I remember it still being extremely classy in the 60's.

No offense taken. Architectural books and other internet sources say that the Bullock's Pasadena opened in 1947, but I wouldn't doubt that construction might've started in 1944. As to the year the photo was taken, I was just going by what the source said. I can believe that it was taken in 1949, and that the cars are just some years older than that, just like in any other era, even today, where you see plenty of cars that are 5-10 years old or more that people are still driving around.

Los Angeles Past Sep 13, 2011 9:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fab Fifties Fan (Post 5408740)
So I log on here and there is a picture of Bullock's Pasadena, the location of my first childhood memory of utter humiliation!

(...)

What a great story! I mean, like, what happened to you was terrible, awful, traumatic, but it's amazing that you can recall all that happened on that one single day as young as you were (and recalling the exact date, to boot)! Thank you so much for sharing those memories. It's nice to know I'm not alone in remembering Bullock's with such clarity, even though it was more than a half-century ago...

-S

Los Angeles Past Sep 13, 2011 9:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sopas ej (Post 5409285)
Evolution of Pasadena's Old Town in Somewhat of a Nutshell

sopas, I have to tell you that I think this is one of the most epic posts in this whole thread. Apparently, a lot of downtown Pasadena was lost to history, too, just like a lot of downtown Los Angeles was. Thank you so much for sharing all those old photos with us. I especially liked that old color image of Bullock's! When I visit the L.A. area again next week, I'm going to make a point of going to see that grand old building again. I don't think I'll go inside, though. I really want to remember it as it was, when I was only a tiny tot...

Thank you again,
-Scott


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