About Azusa California
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 610 ft (186 m). Population 46,361 (2010).
Time zone: Pacific (MST): UTC minus 8 hours. Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7).
Azusa is a city located on the 1926 and 1933 alignment of Route 66 in Los Angeles County, southern California, next to the San Gabriel Canyon. (Map of Azusa).
A view of Azusa Ave. and Route 66, the Art Deco Wells Fargo Bank building. See this same spot in the 1940s
Located beside the San Gabriel River at the mouth of the river's canyon, it is known by its nickname, "The Canyon City".
The History of the city of Azusa, California
This part of California has been inhabited for over 10,000 years. The Spanish explored the area in the 1600s and met the "Tongva" natives, which they called Gabrielino or Gabrieleño (after the San Gabriel Arcángel Mission that they established nearby in 1771).
The Mission owned a vast area of land and after Mexico became independent from Spain in 1821, it was "secularized" and granted to local Mexicans.
In 1841, the Governor Manuel Jimeno granted a 4,431 acre tract to Luis Arenas, known as "Rancho El Susa" (interesting deformation of Azusa). Arenas in turn sold it in 1844 to an English merchant, Henry Dalton, who lived in Los Angeles.
Dalton renamed the ranch:"Rancho Azusa de Dalton" (Dalton's Azusa Ranch) and built his home there (on what is now Cerritos Ave. and 6th St. in Azusa). He purchased more land, and owned a large expanse between San Dimas and Pasadena.
After Mexico lost California to the US during 1846-48 war, it became a state in 1850 and although the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo stated that the land grants would be honored. Dalton's claim was disputed as he was not a native Mexican. Although he fought it in court and eventually won (1876) the legal battle cost him a fortune and J. S. Salson who loaned money to him ended up owning the land in 1885 after Dalton's death.
In the meantime gold had been discovered in San Gabriel Canyon (1854) and the boom town of El Doradoville sprung up only to be razed by the 1861-2 floods.
Salson organized the Azusa Land and Water Company and developed the townsite of Azusa in 1887 just as the Santa Fe railroad was being built through it by the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad - a subsidiary of the Santa Fe Railroad, linking the main line that crossed the U.S from the Mississippi River to a new line built between San Bernardino across the San Gabriel Valley and into Los Angeles.
The Name: Azusa
Father Crespi, who wrote the journal of the Portola Expedition of 1769, from San Diego through Los Angeles all the way to San Francisco and back, recorded the name "Azuka-nga", near the San Gabriel River. It is said to be the name of a Tongva village: ashúkshanga, of unknown meaning.
Another version says it was the name of a hill east of the city, azuncsavit or "skunk hill". However the land grant records it in anoter Spanish version: "El Susa".
Finally, Azusa (pronounced uh ZOO suh) means, according to an urban myth "everything from A to Z in the U.S.A."
Azusa was incorporated as a city in 1898. And the 1915 survey conducted by the USGS along the Santa Fe railroad said the following about it: "Near Azusa the railway is within a mile of the foot of the steep southern front of the San Gabriel Mountains, which has been followed all the way west from the mouth of Cajon Canyon and continues to Los Angeles. Two miles west of Azusa the train crosses San Gabriel Wash, the bed of San Gabriel River, the largest stream flowing from the San Gabriel Mountains...".
National Old Trails Highway (N.O.T.) in Azusa
By 1915, use of the automobile had already grown considerably and the National Old Trails (N.O.T.) Association had been formed to promote a highway link between Los Angeles and New York. In California, Arizona and New Mexico the road was built running close to the Santa Fe railway. In 1912 map by the Automobile Club of Southern California published a map which shows Azusa (26 mi. from LA), where the road crossed the S. Fe railroad, followed by Duarte.
1926: Route 66 in Azusa
Route 66 was created in 1926 and it was aligned using the N.O.T. highway in California. It ran along Foothill Blvd. through downtown Azusa. The 1935 Road map of Los Angeles shows Route 66 through Azusa along "Center St", which in the 1939 map had become Foothill Blvd. State Highway 39, runs north of town, along the San Gabriel Canyon, past the dam and all the way to Crystal Lake. Azusa Ave. (CA-39) ran south and met US 60, US 70 and US 99 in West Covina. The 1940s Caltrans road map shows Asuza, just east of the "San Gabriel Wash", and the 1939 "Guide to the Golden State" written by the WPA described the Azusa section of Route 66 as follows:
"AZUSA, 27.6 m. (611 alt., 4,808 pop.), dating from the boom year of 1887, is vet another citrus-shipping center. The name is derived from Asuksag-na, name of an Indian village here."
A few years later, after World War II, Jack DeVere Rittenhouse rode the whole of Route 66 and wrote his "...Guide Book to Highway 66" (1946) and he mentions the towns in San Gabriel Valley, which " ... are so close together as to be practically indistinguishable from each other... More towns you pass through include LA VERNE at 336 mi., GLENDORA, 241 mi.; AZUSA, 343 mi., DUARTE, 347 mi.; ..."
Route 66 was replaced by the freeway network in the mid 1950s and in 1964 it was officially bypassed in the San Gabriel Valley.
Azusa in popular culture
The odd-sounding name coupled it with Cucamonga in a joke popularized by the Jack Benny Program, and taken up by many others:
Daffy Duck (Daffy Duck Video) parodies a scene from the Jack Benny TV show of the 1950s (See the Video) where the train station announcer called out "Train leaving on track five for Anaheim, Azusa and Cuc... amonga!" of course no such train existed.
The voice behind both "Azusa's" was that of Mel Blanc.
Where to Stay in at Azusa
Lodging in the City of Azusa
>> Book your Hotel in town... Azusa
More Lodging close to Azusa along Route 66
Motels and Hotels close to Azusa, California
Heading West... Hotels & Motels in California...
Heading East.... In California
>> Check out the RV campground near Azusa, in Pomona
Weather in Azusa
Azusa has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate that is semi-arid. It has warm but not too hot summers with cool winters. The average monthly temperatures is less than 71.6°F (22°C)
Azusa has an average of 289 sunny days yearly. During fall (autumn) the strong hot and dry Santa Ana wind blows from the desert, through Cajon Pass increasing the risk of wildfires the San Gabriel Mountain foothill communities.
The summer average high is 90°F (32°C) and the average low is 62°F (17°C). .
During winter, the average high is (Jan) 68°F (20°C) and the average low is 43°F (6°C). The peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains receive plent of snow, but none falls on Route 66 in Glendora.
Azusa's rainfall averages 18.2 in. yearly (461 mm) and the months from May to September are the driest, with less than 0.3 in. (8.4 mm) per month.
Azusa is barely 40 miles from the Pacific Ocean and therefore far away from the Rocky Montains (western limit for tornados) so there is no risk of them in town.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Azusa
You can reach Azusa along old Route 66 which here is "Foothill Blvd." or via Interstate 10, 15, 215, 610 or state higways 57 and 210. All of them are freeways.
Map of Route 66 in Azusa
Map of Azusa and US Highway 66, California.
The map below shows the alignment of Route 66 near Azusa and the color key is for Azusa only. It is the following:
(for the other parts of the map, check the color key of the map of the corresponding city)
Black: the earliest, 1926 to 1933 Route 66 through eastern Azusa.
Pale Blue: the 1933 - 1964 Route 66 through Azusa.
Red: I-15 (north of San Bernardino), where it covers the old roadbed of Route 66 or where it must be driven as the old road is closed.
See Route 66's alignment in California Map
Remove or restore State shading
Route 66's alignment in California: the Historic Route 66 through Azusa
Route 66 across California
U.S. Route 66 does not have any Byway or Historic designation in California despite having long sections of original roadbed between Needles and Santa Monica (like this one).
Click on the following link for an overview of Route 66 across the state of California.
Below you will find detailed information on Old Route 66 in Azusa
Sights and Attractions in Azusa, California
What to Do, Places to See
Azusa and its Route 66 attractions
Azusa's has many Route 66 attractions and landmarks: the Bridge to Nowhere and the historic 1930s Azusa Civic Center, US 66 classics such as Liquor Store Sign, Corky's Place diner, the Stardust Motel, Azusa's Foothill Drive-In Theater and the Colonial Inn. Don't miss Downtown Azusa and the vintage service station on Route 66.
Begin your tour at the eastern end of town, where the two Route 66 alignments (the 1926-33 and the 1933-64) meet, at the junction of Foothill Blvd. and Alosta Ave. From here head west. To your right is a classic attraction, Azusa's drive-in theater (or better said, what is left of it, its neon sign and marquee):
Foothill Drive-In Theater
State Landmark and icon neon sign
675 E. Foothill Blvd. Azusa
The old "Azusa Drive-In Theater" opened in 1961 and remained open for 40 years, showing its last film on Dec. 28, 2001.
Foothill Drive-In Theater, one of the two signs
It could fit 1,510 cars, and when it closed, it was the last remaining drive-in on Route 66 west of Oklahoma.
It was declared a California Landmark in 2002, and the screen was removed in 2005 by the Azusa Pacific University (who own the property), to make space for a parking lot, so all that remains are the signs, with neon tubes that face Route 66 and can be seen from those driving in either direction (east or westbound).
To your left, on the south side of the road is a classic Route 66 motel, the Stardust Motel:
666 E Foothill Blvd.
Below is a late 1960s postcard and the current view of the Stardust Motel. The decorative concrete screen blocks on the west side of the canopy are still there, and also on the front office, facing Route 66. The 1960s Atomic and Space age designed roof has, regrettably been covered with a more mundane Spanish tiled roofing. And the very-1960s neon sign has gone and a duller one has replace it.
The Stardust Motel in a 1960s postcard
The Stardust Motel, nowadays
Keep west and on the next block, also on the south side of the road (left), is another classic Motel: The Colonial:
The Colonial Inn
534 E Foothill Blvd. Azusa
This motel has been open, judging from the postcard, since the late 1950s when it was the "Colonial Motel" with pool - kitchens - TV. Nowadays, as the "Colonial Inn", it is still operating, and has both bungalows and rooms. Below are a "now and then" pair of views so you can see how it changed (little) since then:
The Colonial Inn
Once again, a modern sign replaced the vintage one!
The Colonial Motel in a 1950s postcard
Keep west, and after 2.5 blocks, at N. Dalton Ave. you will reach the historical Civic Center (to your right):
Azusa Civic Center
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
213 Foothill Blvd.
This is the original 1932 Azusa City Hall, which formed a complex including an Auditorium and a Library. It has stood here facing Route 66 since then.
See its Street View.
Azusa Ave. and Route 66. See photo of Azusa downtown district above.
Here, on the northeast corner is the magnificent historic Art Deco style building of the Wells Fargo bank. There are several old brick buildings dating back to the 1920s and 30s along both streets, Azusa and Foothill. Go north along Azusa Ave. and to your right at the tracks is the old railway station, Azusa Depot which has been restored.
Head back to Route 66 and go west again.
Head west for 0.4 mi. and to your left, on the south side of the Road, just before the railway overpass is a classic Route 66 Sign:
Liquor Store Sign
Its color has changed, now it is black, it used to be blue, but there it is, in its 1950s style neon sign.
Liquor Store neon sign
Continue west past the overpass for 0.6 miles and on your left you will see a classic diner, Corky's Place:
1050 W Foothill Blvd.
An "authentic" Route 66 diner, at one time this wass the Bright Spot Tavern.
Head west and on the next block, are the remains of a vintage service station:
Vintage Gas Station
1137 W Foothill Blvd. Northwest corner (N. Loren Ave.)
Now a brakes and tune up garage it used to be a Route 66 Service Station. The old streamline-moderne styled canopy is in place, and the office with its multi-paned window too. The place had two pumps and a garage next to Loren Ave.
Vintage gas station
Tours & Itineraries
Bridge to Nowhere
5 mi. uphill trek from the N.E. end of CA-39 East Fork. (6-8 hour round trip walk)
Built in the mid 1930s it was part of a road being built to link the San Gabriel valley with Writhgtwood. It branched from State Highway 39 (now the East Fork of CA-39). In 1938, two years after the bridge was finished, a flood washed the road away. This led the builders to abandon the project as upkeeping the road in the mountains would be extremely costly.
The concrete bridge remains, in the middle of nowhere, as a tribute to poor state planning.
Trek from the parking area at the end of the East Fork of CA-39. Parking pass required (buy it at the Ranger Station at the entrance of the canyon).
The bridge is on private property so stick to the trail and the bridge. Take water and keep an eye open for rattlesnakes.
This Map showing location of the Bridge to Nowhere.
The two alignments of Old Route 66 in Azusa California
From Glendora to Azusa
The first highway through the area built specially for cars, was the National Old Trails highway projected in the early 1910s to link Los Angeles and New York.
Route 66 in Azusa
There were two alignments in the eastern tip of the town, the original one which followed the old N.O.T. road and later part of Route 66 when it was created in 1926, and the newer one which replaced it in 1933, both meet at the site of the former Drive-in theater:
Old Alignment from 1926 to 1933
This is shown in Black in the Map above. Driving east to west, coming from Glendora, the old route 66 followed Foothill Blvd., took a left on N Citrus Avenue - which marked the boundary with the city of Azusa and then it took another left, westwards along Foothill until meeting Alosta Ave, which came from the southeast, and which later became the newer alignment of Route 66). See the Map of the 1926-33 Route 66 into Azusa.
New alignment from 1933 to 1964
This is shown in Pale Blue in the Map above. With the improvement of Foothill Blvd. all the way to San Bernardino, which began in 1931, the alignment of US 66 was widened and straightened out, to make it safer. So the tortuous road across the downtown area of Glendora via Foothill Blvd. was avoided. The new road kept west along the brand new Alosta Ave., which ran along the north side of South Hills near Big Dalton Wash. Alosta then crossed Barranca Ave. entering Azusa and both old and new alignments met at the junction of Foothill Blvd and Alosta Ave. See the Map of the 1933-64 Route 66 in Azusa.
The course of Route 66 between Glendora and Azua is a simple segment, because both towns form one unit, and you will not notice where one ends and the other one begins.
Route 66 extends for 2.8 mi along Foothill Blvd. and Alosta Ave. in Azusa as shown in this Map of Route 66 in Azusa.
> > See the previous segment Victorville to San Bernardino
> > See this segment San Bernardino to Pasadena (west)
Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api Updated Dec. 31, 2014.
A Guide to the Golden State, by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration, Hastings House, New York, 1939.