About Arcadia California
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 482 ft (147 m). Population 56,364 (2010).
Time zone: Pacific (MST): UTC minus 8 hours. Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7).
Arcadia is a city located Route 66 in Los Angeles County in southern California on the San Gabriel Mountains' foothills; it is part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. (Map of Arcadia).
Arcadia and Route 66
The former Arcadia News Journal Art Deco Building
The history of Arcadia
The foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains have been inhabited for over 10,000 years and at the time of Spanish discovery in the 1600s, the Europeans encountered a hunter - gatherer society, the "Tongva", which they named after the mountain range: Gabrieleños or Gabrielinos.
A Mission was established nearby in 1771 (San Gabriel Arcángel) and it owned a vast swath of land in the valley. After Mexico's independence from Spain in 1821, the land was nationalized and granted to Mexican citizens.
Hugo Reid, a Scotsman who had naturalized Mexican, and married a Tongva, Victoria Bartolomea Comicrabit, recieved a land grant in 1841 from Governor Juan Alvarado. Which he named after one of his wife's relatives (Anita Cota) as "Rancho Santa Anita".
After the Mexican American war (1846-48), Mexico ceded California to the US, and it became a state in 1850. But by then Reid had already sold his land to his neighbor, Henry Dalton.
The ranch had other owners but was finally bought by Elias Jackson Baldwin in 1875, who had come to California during the Gold Rush.
Baldwin's built his mansion on the 8,000 acre tract (it is the Queen Anne Cottage preserved in the Arboretum).
When the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Railroad built its line through the area (linking up with the Santa Fe Railroad in 1887), Baldwin sold part of his land and created a town, Arcadia which was platted in 1888.
The name: Arcadia
It was named after the Greek region of Arcadia, famous as a synonym for harmony with nature, pastoral peace and unspoiled land.
Baldwin built the Oakwood Hotel next to the railway station and it sold liquor, convenient because neighboring Pasadena was a "dry" town. Arcadia incorporated in 1903 and the Pacific Electric tram linked it to Los Angeles.
National Old Trails Highway (N.O.T.) in Arcadia
The 1912 map of the Automobile Club of Southern California (ACSC) shows the location of Arcadia, south of Foothill Blvd. but only mentions Pasadena and Monrovia. But the name "Arcadia" is not written on the map. At that time, the use of cars had grown greatly and the National Old Trails (N.O.T.) Association was formed to promote a road between New York and Los Angeles; it passed through Arcadia, north of the current alignment along Foothill Blvd.
1926: Route 66 created
In 1926, US highway 66 (Route 66) was created and aligned along the N.O.T. highway through San Gabriel Valley. The 1935 Road map of Los Angeles shows it going along this same route but the 1939 map has a different alignment, further south, along Huntington Drive and then west along Colorado Pl. That same year, the "Guide to the Golden State" written by the WPA described the Arcadia section of Route 66 as follows:
"ARCADIA, 35.9 m. (479 alt., 5,216 pop.), is largely peopled by Los Angeles commuters. Poultry and rabbit raising is carried on here. The LYON PONY EXPRESS MUSEUM, (L) 36.4 m. (8-6; adm. children 10$), where the highway widens triangularly to meet converging Huntington Drive, houses the privately owned exhibit of W. Parker Lyon, former mayor of Fresno, California. The frame buildings achieve a deliberately ramshackle effect, purportedly resembling a ghost city, with a "pioneer" attendant guarding the entrance. Inside is an 1849 bullet-scarred bar, an old gold scale, a vigilante bell, several stagecoaches, and a collection of Indian mementos and curios of the 1840's and 1850's but little to justify the name "Pony Express."
At 36.4 m. is a junction with Huntington Drive. Left here to the main entrance (R) of SANTA ANITA RACE TRACK, 0.5 m. (racing 1:30 p.m. (weekdays, except Mon., during 2-month (winter season beginning about New Year's Day; adm. $1.10, parking 25$), named for the "Lucky" Baldwin rancho, which it adjoins (R). It is the $1,000,000 home of midwinter racing events that include a $100,000 handicap. Blue buildings with white roofs spread along one side of the 1-mile oval track, backed by the lofty peaks of the San Gabriel Range. The grandstand seats 30,000; the stables can hold 1,500 horses. During the racing season the 500-acre scene is one of excitement and holiday bustle, thronged with notables, among them Hollywood celebrities. The season's wagers amount to more than $25,000,000.."
Shortly after World War II, Jack DeVere Rittenhouse drove along Route 66 in 1946 gathering information for his memorable book: "A Guide Book to Highway 66". He mentioned that there were many towns: "... DUARTE, 347 mi.; MONROVIA, 350 mi., and ARCADIA, 352 mi. Just west of Arcadia you pass the PONY EXPRESS MUSEUM (L), containing a historic collection of stagecoaches and old western relics. Famous SANTA ANITA RACETRACK is just beyond.".
Pony Express Museum
Gone - formerly at 130 W. Huntington Dr.
W. Parker Lyon, who made a fortune with his furniture store, began a collection of Western relics that he displayed at his museum of Californian Antiquities in Pasadena. In 1935 he moved it to Arcadia naming it the "Pony Express Museum". The Pacific Electric tramway had a station named after it and 100,000 visitors came every year (admission charges 25 cents and children 10 cents).
It displayed all sorts of things from stage coaches, to cannons, rifles, Indian scalps and fire engines. He died in 1949 and the museum closed in 1955 and purchased by William Harrah who moved it to his casino in Reno. After his death in 1978, the collection was auctioned.
Check this Original Brochure of the Museum.
The freeways of Los Angeles and the Interstate highways marked the end of Route 66 in Arcadia, it was bypassed in 1964.
Where to Stay in Arcadia
Lodging in the City of Arcadia
> > Book your Hotel in town: Arcadia Hotels
More Lodging close to Arcadia along Route 66
Motels and Hotels close to Arcadia, California
Heading West... Hotels & Motels in California...
Heading East.... In California
- 2 miles Monrovia
- 8 miles Azusa
- 10 miles Glendora
- 13 miles San Dimas
- 19 miles Claremont
- 20 miles Pomona (South)
- 22 miles Rancho Cucamonga
- 35 miles Fontana
- 39 miles Rialto
- 44 miles San Bernardino
- 49 miles Cajon Junction
- 65 miles Hesperia
- 70 miles Victorville
- 83 miles Helendale
- 105 miles Barstow
- 259 miles Needles
>> Check out the RV campground near Arcadia, in Pomona
The Weather in Arcadia
The climate in Arcadia is a Warm Summer Mediterranean climate. Rather dry and hot in summer but cool in winter (which is the rainy season). The average monthly temperatures does not exceed 71.6 °F (22°C).
Arcadia has some 290 sunny days each year and during fall (autumn) strong dry winds blow from the desert (Santa Ana winds) drying out the area and increasing the risk of wildfires in the foothills.
The summer average high is 89.4°F (31.9°C) and the average low is 61.1°F (16.2°C).
During winter the average high is (Jan) 67.8°F (19.9°C) and the average low is 44.3°F (6.8°C) in winter, the peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains receive snow, and may occasionally falls in Arcadia.
Rainfall averages 21.1 in. per year (536 mm), with the period May to October being the driest one with an average of 0.5 to 2.8 in. per month (12 - 71 mm). There are some 43.5 rainy days per year
Arcadia is located very close to the Pacific Ocean and well beyond the Rocky Montains (which are the western limit for tornados) so there is no risk of tornados in the city.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Arcadia
You can reach Arcadia along old Route 66 or via Interstate 10, 15, 215, 610 or state higways 57 and 210. All of them are freeways.
Map of Route 66 through Arcadia California
See the alignment of US 66 in Arcadia, on our California Route 66 Map, it has the complete alignment across the state with all the towns along it.
Accommodation Search box:
Route 66's alignment in California: the Historic Route 66 into Arcadia
Route 66 across California
U.S. Route 66 does not have any Byway or Historic designation in California despite the survival of long sections of original roadbed between Needles and Santa Monica.
Click Here for an overview of Route 66 across the state of California.
Below you will find detailed information on Old Route 66 in Arcadia.
Sights and Attractions in Arcadia, California
What to Do, Places to See
Arcadia and its Route 66 attractions
Santa Anita - Arcadia
Arcadia has many Route 66 attractions like the Arcadia News Journal Art Deco Building, Rod's Grill Neon Sign, Former Eaton's Hotel, Former Frontier Motel, the Derby Motel and the Flamingo Motel, Denny's Windmill Restaurant, The site of the Pony Express Museum (gone) and classic landmarks like the Santa Anita Park Racetrack (which was the site of a World War II Internment of Japanese Americans and POW camp) and the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden.
During its heyday, in 1947, the Monrovia-Arcadia region boasted 25 new motor lodges and motels and at the US Highway 66 Association convention in Oklahoma City, Walter Muller, the owner of the Westerner Hotel told his colleagues about the premium service offered by these motels, such as in-room phone service and "beautiful crystal swimming pools".
Almost all of these classic Route 66 motels in Arcadia have now gone, lost to development: like Eaton's Santa Anita Hotel, 1130 W. Colorado with 58 rooms, The Westerner Hotel 161 Colorado Pl, with 50 rooms, The Huntington Motel, 418 E. Huntington Dr, and the The Roundup Motel, 412 E. Huntington Dr. 20 Units, just to mention a few. But others have survived, like the The Santa Anita Frontier Hotel, 275 Colorado with 12 units now converted into private homes.
Jac Kerouac and Arcadia
Jack Kerouac's now classic novel "On the Road" explores the essence of "Americanness" in a way which was controversial when the book was first published (in 1957), with its view on the freewheeling notion of road travel and freedom.
Kerouac visited L.A. in 1947 trying to sell a screenplay to Columbia Pictures, but instead fell in love with Bea Franco. In "On the Road", Keouac tells us that he was short of cash and "Before the daily room rent was due again we packed up and took off on a red car to Arcadia, California, where Santa Anita is located under snowcapped mountains". There, "We went into a motel court and bought a comfortable suite for about four dollars -shower, bath towels, wall radio and all. We held each other tight and talked. I loved this girl in that season we had together, and it was far from finished".
Which motel did he stay at? No one knows.
Begin your tour in eastern Arcadia, at the point where Santa Anita Wash crosses Route 66 (Huntington Dr.), which is where Arcadia city limits begin. Head west for 0.2 mi. and on your right is the Derby, a classic Route 66 Motel.
The former Derby Motel
233 E Huntington Dr. Arcadia
It opened in 1938 and had 18 units back in the 1950s when it was ran by George Wolf, the jockey who rode Seabiscuit. It is still operating but now not as a motel; it is a Restaurant. It is decorated with plenty of horse-racing memorabilia, and as you can see by comparing the images below, it has lost the western wing of the property, but the gable-roofed building on the right, is still there:
The Derby Motel in a 1950s postcard
Present view of the Derby - a restaurant now, in Arcadia
Continue west and pass under the old railroad bridge. Two blocks ahead after crossing First Ave. is an Art Deco building:
The former Arcadia News Journal Art Deco Building
51 E Huntington Dr
The Arcadia News Journal Building was built around 1932 in Art Deco style (Image shown above). Notice the square panels on the upper part of the facade. These were sculptured by J. J. Mora. The building is now a Funeral Parlor.
At the western tip of the block is the Denny's restaurant with the windmill on its roof:
Denny's Windmill Restaurant
7 E Huntington Dr. Arcadia
Open 24 ⁄7, it is located on the corner of Santa Anita Av. and Huntington Drive. It was built in 1967 in a mid-century Googie style building designed by architects Harold Bissner and Harold Zook for the former Van de Kamp's restaurant and bakery.
Van de Kamp's Holland Dutch Bakeries was founded in 1915 in Los Angeles and its stores had windmills atop their restaurants. The company went broke in 1990 and the brand is now owned by Pinnacle Foods Group.
Pronounced "gu:gi", it was a form of modern building design inspired in the Atomic and Space ages, with its geometric shapes, vast glass surfaces and symbolic motion designs (atoms, boomerangs, wing shapes, disks) with Space Age themes.
It appeared in California in the late 1940s and was popular until the late 1960s. Cafes, motels and service stations sported these modernistic designs. And Denny's is a good example of it.
The building features a folded plate roof and the original windmill sits on top of it. Denny's bought the property with an unmoving windmill (it was not allowed to turn by a local Ordinance in 1987), and suggested removing the windmill. Local activists The bakery which was established in as shown in the image below, and it still has the folded plate roof with the original windmill that sits atop the roof. In 1987, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 1858 that amended the sign regulations, which included a provision that prohibited the windmill from turning. The former Van de Kamp’s r estaurant bakery was subsequently closed, and the subject building was remodeled into a coffee shop which now houses a Denny’s. In 1999, Denny’s proposed to remove the iconic windmill and its support tower. However, a campaign was launched by a group of opposed. Denny’s changed its plans and restored it in 2013, and in June 2016 the Ordinance was repealed and the windmill is spinning again.
Present view of Denny's with its windmill in Arcadia
TRIVIA. There is another one of these buildings on Route 66, the Pancake house, in Houck, Arizona. It was built in 1967 as a Van de Kamp's restaurant, but went bust, and it lacks the windmill.
Keep west, and at the end of the next block (on Morlan Pl. and Huntington), to your right is a classic eatery with a great neon sign:Rod's Grill:
41 W Huntington Dr.
Rod's Grill neon sign. Rod's Grill
This place has been serving meals since 1957. It serves breakfast all day (6 AM -9 PM) plus lunch and dinner. Its neon sign is a classic Route 66 sign. Don't miss it.
Head West again and at Santa Clara St., Huntington Dr. splits. Here, to your left, once stood the Pony Express Museum mentioned above and later the Flamingo Motel, which under another name is still open:
Former Flamingo Motel
130 W Huntington Dr.
This classic motel in the postcard shown below was described as "A beautiful Motor Hotel with complete hotel service, including Swimming Pool, Room Telephones, Television, Excellent Cafe, Cocktail Lounge, Children's Playground...". It is currently the Santa Anita Inn.
You can Book a Room in the Santa Anita Inn.
The Flamingo Motel in a 1950s postcard
The office and main building have lost their 50's look, the sign has gone, but the room buildings, a two story complex behind it, and the swimming pool are the same.
Present view of the Flamingo Motel (now the Santa Anita Inn) in Arcadia
To the West, just 0.5 miles away is the Santa Anita Race Track:
Santa Anita Park Race Track
285 W Huntington Dr, Arcadia, CA 91007, United States (map with directions)
Baldwin's Rancho Santa Anita included the first race track in the area but racing was outlawed in the state of California in 1909. The land was later used by the Army and in 1933 it transferred the land back to Los Angeles County. The area became the Arcadia County Park and, in 1934 once the ban on racing was removed, the Santa Anita Race Track opened there.
The buildings in Colonial Revival style and, a more modern Streamline Moderne style were designed by Gordon Kaufmann. Don't miss the life-size bronze 1941 Seabiscuit Statue that stands in "Seabiscuit Court (Location map).
Seabiscuit (1933 - 1947) was a champion Thoroughbred racehorse, that was very popular during the years of the Great Depression, so much so that the Three Stogies filmed "Even as IOU" in 1942 in which they end up with a retired race horse named "Seabasket" (a word play on Seabiscuit).
World War II Internment of Japanese Americans
California Historical Landmark #934
In 1942 the racetrack became the Santa Anita Assembly Center for Japanese American U.S. citizens. A forced relocation of Americans of Japanese ancestry. It was one of 18 such places and held over 18,000 persons there in detention, in primitive barracks and converted stables. These citizens were processed from March to Oct. 1942 here and then sent inland to permanent interment camps (like the one on old Route 66 in Santa Fe). There was an internment camp for Japanese Americans at Leupp Corner AZ.
Prisoner of War Camp
The place then became a P.O.W. camp "Camp Santa Anita" and held thousands of German soldiers captured in North Africa. There was another POW Camp in McLean Texas on Route 66.
After WW II, the races began again, in 1945 and it has become one the top horse racing facilities iin the US, Home of the Breeder's Cup and the Santa Anita Handicap. Racing takes place in October and late December through April.
Head back to the old Flamingo Motel and turn left along Colorado Place (See map here). Drive until reaching "The Village", site of a former motel:The Frontier
275 Colorado Place
Frontier motel now (top - The Village) and in the 1950s (below)
Though the old Frontier Motel is now closed, its buildings have survived the ravages of time and development it is now known as "The Village", an apartment complex. The composite image combines an old postcard (check the Full postcard view) from the 1950s on the bottom, with its current Street View.
The roofs of each unit, angle away from the central garages, which have a flat roof. And they remain unchanged.
Continue West along Colorado Pl. and take a left along N. Baldwin Ave. to visit the Arboretum(Map with directions - only 0.7 miles.)
Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden
301 North Baldwin Avenue
You don't need to love plants to visit the Arboretum established in 1947 on the original Rncho Santa Anita grounds. It has two key attractions:
They were introduced by Baldwin to control the snakes and snails on his farm. But now they are wild. They appear on the city's seal.
Films and Series Location
Tarzan movies were filmed here and some TV shows too, among them was Fantasy Island which aired between 1978 and 1984. The house with the bell tower that the little person, Tatoo, rang is actually the Arboretum's Queen Ann Cottage (Location Map), it was here that Tatoo rang and cried out "Da plane! Da plane!" (See the video). The arrival of the guests by plane was shot in the lagoon behind the house.
There are of course 127 acres of gardens, an 1840 adobe and the original railway station built in 1890 "Santa Anita Depot" relocated when the 210 Foothill Freeway was built in 1970.
Head back to Colorado Pl. and take a left westwards to visit the site of a former hotel and restaurant, Eaton's (1.2 mi.):
Eaton's Santa Anita Hotel and Restaurant
1150 W. Colorado Blvd. Defunct (Map with directions).
It stood where Coco's Restaurant is now located from 1939 to 1969. It had bungalows and a swimming pool and was owned by Charles Eaton and his wife.
The Westerner Motel was next to it (1130 W. Colorado Blvd.) which has also gone.
Tours & Itineraries
Old Route 66 in Arcadia California
From Monrovia to Arcadia
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, it passed through Arcadia.
Route 66 in Arcadia has two alignments
There were two alignments of US 66 through Arcadia. The original one, followed by the N.O.T., along Foothill Blvd. was the one used by Route 66 when it was created in 1926, and a newer one which replaced it in 1938, further to the south along Huntington Dr. and Colorado Place.
Old Alignment from 1926 to 1938
This is shown in Black in the Map above. Driving east to west, coming from Monrovia, the old route 66 headed west along E. Foothill Blvd. across norhtern Arcadia and then, to the south of Sierra Madre. It took a left to the south, on San Gabriel Blvd. up to E Colorado Blvd. at this point old and new alignments meet and head straight along it westbound, into Pasadena. See the Map of the 1926-38 Route 66 in Arcadia.
New alignment from 1938 to 1964
This is shown in Pale Blue in the Map above. At that time, Foothill Blvd. was improved eastwards all the way to San Bernardino, work that began in 1931. So the alignment of US 66 was widened and straightened out, to make it safer. This led to the bypassing of the roundabout road across the downtown area of Monrovia via Foothill Blvd.
Instead, Route 66 kept westbound straight along Huntington Drive across Monrovia and then into Arcadia, where it curved around the racetrack and became E. Colorado Place, and continuing along Colorado St. westwards where it meets I-210 (which in those days was the railroad corridor) and continues all the way to Pasadena. See the Map of the 1938-64 Route 66 in Arcadia.
The course of Route 66 between Monrovia and Arcadia is easy: both towns are next to each other and you will not notice where one ends and the other one begins.
In Arcadia Route 66 extends from From S 5th Ave to Michillinda Ave. and measures 3 miles. See this Map.
Colorado Street and Colorado Boulevard carried the pre-1964 Legislative Route 161 name from its west end to the merger with Huntington Drive (via Colorado Place).
> > See the previous segment Victorville to San Bernardino
> > See this segment San Bernardino to Pasadena (west)