A severe Indiana winter during 1872-73 prompted a group of friends from Indianapolis to form an investment group with the purpose of moving to the warmer climate of Southern California. Sent to scout the area, D. M. Berry recommended purchasing a portion of the Rancho San Pasqual, which later became Pasadena.


    One of the main reasons Pasadena was incorporated in 1886 was to abolish saloons and the sale of alcohol in the area. In February 1887, an ordinance was passed that banned liquor in Pasadena.


    The word Pasadena literally means “valley” in the Ojibwa (Chippewa) Indian language, but it has been interpreted to mean “Crown of the Valley” and “Key of the Valley,” hence the adoption of both the crown and the key in the official city seal.


    Pasadena, Texas was named after Pasadena, California because some thought that the areas resembled each other.

    An asteroid was given the name Pasadena in 1980, in part because it is a middle-sized “suburban” asteroid eight miles (13 kilometers) in diameter.

    The USS Pasadena SSN-752, a nuclear submarine, is the third Navy vessel and first submarine to carry the name of Pasadena. Commissioned in 1989, the submarine has been deployed several times, including the Persian Gulf in 1993. Currently based in Pearl Harbor, the football field sized sub is known for its speed and stealth, as well as, its advanced sonar capabilities and weaponry systems. The USS Pasadena was awarded the Submarine Squadron Seven Battle “E” Efficiency award for 1998.  The submarine’s insignia was originally designed by Walt Disney for the USS Pasadena (CL-65),a light cruiser that earned six battle stars during WW2, represented by the boxing turtle. The red rose ties the ship to the City of Pasadena. More information about the USS Pasadena can be found on the Navy’s Web site or the USS Pasadena Foundation.

    Official Flower

    The rose (no particular variety) was adopted as Pasadena’s official flower on September 22, 1961.


    Naturalized parrots are frequently seen and heard around Pasadena. According to local legend, many were released during a 1959 fire which destroyed Simpson’s Gardenland and Bird Farm in Pasadena.  Some of the parrots were probably pets that escaped or were set free. Some may have been released by smugglers attempting to avoid arrest. One common breed is the Red-crowned parrot.

    Rose Bowl

    The Rose Bowl was constructed in 1922 on the site of a dump in the Arroyo Seco. It originally had a seating capacity of 57,000 and currently seats 100,184 people. The rim circumference is 2,430 feet (741 meters); 880 feet (268 meters) from the north to the south rim and 79,156 square feet (7,354 sq. meters) with a circumference of 1,350 feet (411 meters). The Rose Bowl is home for the UCLA Bruins Football team.

    Tournament of Roses

    The Tournament of Roses annual parade of flower covered floats has been held in Pasadena since January 1, 1890. It was patterned after a European festival of roses and was meant to show off Pasadena’s natural beauty and sunny climate while most of the nation lay buried beneath snow.  Today, the 5.5 mile (8.8 kilometers) Tournament of Roses parade has magnificent floral floats, marching bands, equestrian units and public officials. Floats must be completely covered with flowers, greenery, or other natural material, with an average float requiring up to 100,000 blossoms. It is estimated that more than one half million roses in vials are used in each parade. The average cost of a finished float is between $75,000 and $250,000 depending on the size and mechanics of the float. About 1,000,000 people come to Pasadena to watch the Tournament of Roses.

      Data: City of Pasadena Site


With growth and new development came concern for preserving the unique quality of life in Pasadena. Neighborhood and preservation groups joined forces in 1981 to defeat a proposal to build two high-rise towers in downtown Pasadena. That same year, the Pasadena Redevelopment Agency was disbanded. A citizen initiative to restrict growth was passed in 1989. It was later repealed by voters in 1992, in conjunction with revising the General Plan to respond to growth management issues.

Old Town PasadenaAn awakened respect for the city’s architectural treasures led to the renovation of historic homes and buildings throughout the city. Nowhere was this more apparent than in Old Pasadena, where the city’s business district first started. Revitalization of this area occurred throughout the eighties, and culminated at the end of 1992 with the completion of the One Colorado historic block. Transformed into a restaurant and entertainment center, Old Pasadena has become a major attraction in Southern California.

In the eighties, population growth accompanied development. Between 1980 and 1990, the population of Pasadena increased by 11%, becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. The largest increase was in the Hispanic population, which grew to 27.3% of the total city population by 1990. A charter amendment, approved by voters in 1980, changed Pasadena’s election system from citywide runoffs to district only elections. This paved the way for the election of minority candidates and a greater emphasis on neighborhood concerns. In 1993, the name for Pasadena’s elected representatives was officially changed from Board of Directors, a term associated with corporations, to City Council, a term prevalent in most city governments. A mayor was selected on a rotating basis from the senior City Councilmembers. The City Manager, however, was responsible for the day-to-day operation of the City. And in 1998, Cynthia Kurtz become Pasadena’s first female City Manager. The same year voters decided it was time to elect a Mayor who could represent Pasadena on a city-wide basis. A former city Councilmember, Bill Bogaard was elected in 1999.

In 1994, the Northridge earthquake, the most severe quake in a series to hit Southern California, left Pasadena relatively unscathed. The finial atop City Hall’s dome was knocked askew and several residential chimneys were damaged. The world’s leader in seismic research, the California Institute of Technology was consulted frequently during this time by the media.

Between 1970 and 2005, Caltech’s faculty and alumni garnered 14 of the Institute’s 31 Nobel prizes. The most recent award went to Robert H. Grubbs in 2005 in chemistry, along with Yves Chauvin (Institut Français du Pétrole) and Richard R. Schrock (MIT), for their work in the development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis. Perhaps best known for its research in physics, the Institute’s faculty and alumni have also received Nobel Prizes in the fields of Physiology or Medicine, Economics and Peace.

RoverCaltech’s satellite laboratory, The Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), was responsible for several of NASA‘s successes in the 1980s and 1990s including deep space navigation and communication, digital image processing, intelligent automated systems, and microelectronics. Despite recent set backs in the loss of the Mars probe Orbiter and the Mars Polar Lander, it is the memory of the Mars Pathfinder Mission that still remains fresh in the minds of many. In July of 1997, the world was able to watch as Rover, a robot on four wheels with a camera and extendable arms, moved over the surface of the red planet. The robot took photographs, collected rock and soil samples and transmitted scientific data back to the earth. Rover lasted considerably longer than it was originally designed before it fell silent in September 1997.

Colorado Street BridgeAs Pasadena looks toward the future it seeks to
balance growth with community needs, historic character, a diverse economic base, and a safe, healthy family community. The Colorado Street Bridge, designed in 1913 as a “work of art” and renovated in the early 90’s to conform with seismic safety standards, symbolizes the commitment of Pasadena to integrate its rich cultural heritage with the challenges of the new millennium.

The Pasadena Public Library has an extensive collection of materials about Pasadena in the Pasadena Centennial Room at Central Library.

 Data: City of Pasadena Site

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