About Claremont California
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 1,168 ft (356 m). Population 34,926 (2010).
Time zone: Pacific (MST): UTC minus 8 hours. Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7).
Claremont is a small city located on old Route 66 in Los Angeles County in southern California and is part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. (Map of Claremont).
Route 66 in Claremont, Foothill Blvd.
The History of the city of Claremont, California
For the early history of the area, read the History of Rancho Cucamonga. Present Claremont was open ranchland until the mid 1880s. Until then it was part of the vast 15,000 acre "Rancho San José" which had been granted to Ygnacio Palomares by the Mexican Governorn Juan Bautista Alvarado in 1837; this land spanned what is nowadays Glendora, La Verne, Pomona and, Claremont.
In 1883, the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad (A & P) from the east (St. Louis, Topeka, Albuquerque) had reached San Bernardino and its owners, the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad acquired the right of way across San Gabriel Valley, building the tracks to Pasadena, passing through what would become Claremont in 1887.
That same year, a subsidiary of the Santa Fe Railroad named The Pacific Land and Improvement Company platted a town: Claremont.
The name: Claremont
The original idea was to name it after the land's original owner, Mr. H. A. Palmer, who declined, suggesting instead various Spanish names which refered to the great view of the San Gabriel Mountains.
The company officials decided to follow suit but using English language words and one of these directors, who lived in Claremont, New Hampshiere suggested the name "Claremont", which stuck.
The name is French, and comes from "clair" (bright or clear) and "mont" (mill, mount) a prominent hill standing out from a plain.
A College Town
Just as it was founded, in 1887, the Pomona College was established along the lines of a "New England" University, it was coeducational and was the seed from which the town grew up from.
The college was established in Pomona but it moved to Claremont in 1890, and used the unfinished hotel as its first building, renaming it Sumner Hall.
Despite relocating to Claremont, the college retained its name (Pomona).
The campus covers 140 acres (57 ha.) and has 63 buildings. The town's Claremont Colleges Consortium now has five undergraduate colleges and two graduate institutions.
The town incorporated in 1907, and the USGS survey along the Santa Fe railroad of 1915 says the following about it: "... West of Claremont a spur of the San Gabriel Mountains on the north extends nearer to the railway, and the San Jose Hills, a northern extension of the Santa Ana Mountains, approach from the south. Owing to these conditions the valley narrows to about 3 miles at Lordsburg. In order to pass the San Jose Hills the railway has been deflected to the northwest, a course that soon takes itnear the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains, which are closely skirted from San Dimas to Pasadena."
National Old Trails Highway (N.O.T.) in Claremont
By that time the use of the automobile had grown considerably and the National Old Trails (N.O.T.) Association promoted the construction of a highway linking Los Angeles with New York. It was built and ran next to the Santa Fe railroad tracks from California, to Arizona and New Mexico, heading norteast from there. In Claremont it was aligned along what would later become Foothill Blvd.
The 1912 map by the Automobile Club of Southern California's map shows the N.O.T. highway running on the north side of the Santa Fe Railroad and after crossing the county line (San Bernardino - Los Angeles) it reached Claremont (38 mi. from LA). Here the road had some curves in it as it headed towards Glendora.
The N.O.T. road was incorporated into the brand new U.S. Highway 66 in 1926; this road was slowly widened and improved, see below:
Route 66 running along Foothill Blvd. is the work of Frank Wheeler, an Englishman who reached Claremont in 1893 and campaigned to improve the dirt highway that would become present Foothill Blvd.
He was the vice president of the Foothill Boulevard Association and worked hard to have the road become a state highway. He worked with Ralph cornell and designed the layout of the eucaliptus trees that lined the highway through Claremont. By the 1920s, the funds had been assigned and the road improved.
The Claremont portion of the new highway was completed in 1931 and the whole highway up to San Bernardino became in 1938 the first four-lane divided highway in California.
The following year (1939) the "Guide to the Golden State" written by the WPA, described the town of Claremont as follows:
"...CLAREMONT, 19.4 m. (1,155 alt., 2,719 pop.), in the midst of citrus groves and vineyards, is a city of tree-lined streets and attractive residences. It has a citrus-packing plant and a number of small factories, but is essentially a college town. [...]
POMONA COLLEGE was founded in Pomona in 1887 by the Reverend Charles B. Sumner, a New England Congregational minister. The following January the Santa Fe Railway gave 500 acres of land for a campus here; an unfinished hotel, now Sumner Hall, was the first college building. In 1894 the enrollment was 47; in 1937 it was 900. The buildings, of various architectural styles, are scattered over 24 tree-shaded city blocks. In 1927 Pomona became the sponsor of a plan for a group of affiliated colleges, Claremont Colleges, Inc., of which Pomona (co-educational) was the first unit and Scripps College, the second.
The 50-acre campus of SCRIPPS COLLEGE FOR WOMEN is cut by city streets. Scripps became a unit of Claremont Colleges, Inc., through a gift of Miss Ellen Scripps. The enrollment (200) is limited by rigid scholastic requirements. The buildings are of modified Spanish design.
The 1940s Caltrans road map shows Foothill Blvd. (US 66) running through unincorporated land west of Upland and, after crossing into Los Angeles County it goes through the north tip of Claremont. At that time Pomona was further south, centered on US 60, 70 and 99, and did not reach US 66 in the north, an area that was then open countryside. Only after passing CA-71 did Route 66 enter another town: La Verne.
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse rode the whole of Route 66 in 1946 and wrote his book: "A Guide Book to Highway 66". He describes this area saying that the towns only the name and mileage for Claremont: "... and CLAREMONT at 334 mi. ...", merely one among many.
Citrus ranches and orchards grew up around the town until they began to be replaced by urban development after World War II.
During the 1950s, the LA freeway system grew and diverted traffic away from Route 66 which was replaced here in 1964 by I-10; traffic along Foothill Blvd. dwindled.
Where to Stay in Claremont
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The Weather in Claremont
The weather in Claremont is warm Mediterranean (Continental Mediterranean climate), which is semi-arid, it has hot (triple digit temperatures) and dry summers with cool - chilly winters.
The town has on average, 287 sunny days per year and the strong dry - hot Santa Ana wind blows through Cajon Pass during autumn (fall) drying out the area and increasing the risk of wildfires the foothill communities.
Early summer is usually overcast ("Mat Gray" and "June Gloom") due to the damp oceanic air flowing in.
The average high in winter (Jan) is 68°F (20°C) and the average low is 39°F (4°C). During summer the average high is 88°F (31°C) and the average low is 61°F (16°C).
Rainfall averages 18.4 in. per year (468 mm), with the period May to September being the driest one with less than 0.2 in. monthly (5 mm).
During winter the peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains receive plent of snow, but only very rarely does it snow in Claremont.
As Claremont is located very close to the Pacific Ocean, beyond the Rocky Montains (western limit for tornados) so there is no risk of tornadoes here.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Claremont
You can reach Claremont along old Route 66 which here is the "Foothill Blvd." or via Interstate 10, 15, 215 or state higway 210. All of them are freeways.
The Map of U.S. 66 in Claremont, California
Display Claremont Route 66 Map
Click Map will appear below
Route 66's alignment in California: the Historic Route 66 into Claremont
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 Claremont.
Sights in Claremont, California
Tour the town
Claremont and its Route 66 attractions
College and Trees town
Claremont has some interesting Route 66 attractions: Wolfe's Marketplace which opened in 1917, Old School House (1911) and Sherwood Florist (1923). The classic restaurant and shop: Griswold's Stone Cellar and a boat-shaped seafood restaurant named Tugboat Annie's. Don't miss the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden if you love plants.
The view, towards the north is great, you can see the San Gabriel Mountains and the outstanding peak of Mount San Antonio, known as "Mount Baldy" which is the highest peak of the mountain range with an elevation of 10,062 ft. ( 3,069 m). These mountains are covered in snow during winter.
Some well known celebrities from Claremont: Jessica Alba, Peter F. Drucker and Frank Zappa.
Begin your tour on the eastern side of town on Route 66 (on the 600 block of Foothill Blvd.) and head west. Many Route 66 icons have gone: Henry’s Drive-In Restaurant (1957) was demolished in the 1980s, Betsy Ross Ice Cream Co. and Orange Julius too, but some "classics" still survive:
Millard Sheets Studio
655 East Foothill Blvd. (See street view of it).
Built in 1958 it was the art studio of Millard Sheets, an artist who taught at Scripps College. His murals are found across Southern California.
You can see one of them, on the facade of the Pomona First Federal Bank, facing Foothill Blvd. (See street view of it), depicting mounted Native Americans.
Notice the mosaics on his tudio which now is a private office space.
Head west for 0.5 miles and take a right on N. College Ave., on the corner of Foothill Blvd. is a 1950s building:
School of Theology at Claremont
1325 North College Avenue
To your right, on the north side of Foothill Blvd. (See map).
This building was designed by Eduard Durell Stone when the School moved here in 1952.
Keep north along N. College Ave. and continue 0.3 mi. (See map with directions), you will reach the Botanic Garden
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
1500 North College Avenue
Trees have been a part of Clareomont since it began. It has won the National Arbor Day Association's Tree City USA award for 22 consecutive years. The town is also one of the few places in North Ameria where its Elm trees have not yet been infected by the Dutch elm disease.
It is fitting for it to have a large collection of plants native to California. The garden moved to Claremont from Santa Ana in 1952 and covere 86 acres.
Head back to Foothill Blvd. and opposite the college, on the south side of Route 66 is Wolfe's Marketplace:
160 West Foothill Blvd. (at Harvard Ave.) to your right.
The place opened in 1917 and has a great mural by Jeff Faust. Still run by the same family, it predates Route 66 by nine years.
Wolfe's Marketplace, on Route 66:
Continue west for 0.25 mi., and on the southwestern corner of Indian Hill Blvd. and Foothill Blvd is another "ancient" building:
404 West Foothill Blvd.
This stone building with red Spanish tiles dates back to 1923 (3 years before Route 66 was created). It originally housed the Sterling Oil Spray Co., which supplied the citrus ranchers. After becoming a garage it finally became a florist shop.
Sherwood Florist on Route 66:
On the opposite side (north) of the road is what used to be the schoolhouse:
Old School House
415 West Foothill Blvd.
It used to be the town's High School and opened in 1911. It was rebuilt in the 1930s. In 1971 it was sold and now has offices, shops, restaurant and the Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater.
Keep west, and on the next corner is the former Griswold's Stone Cellar & Restaurant:
Griswold's Stone Cellar
505 West Foothill Blvd.
Though now it is an Italian restaurant, Buca di Beppo, at one time it was a shop that sold dried fruit and marmalade. It belonged to George Griswold, a retired professor who moved to Claremont in 1915.
It later added "Griswold's Inn" adding a Smorgasbord (a Scandinavian meal which is a buffet with many hot and cold dishes set on a table, originally from Sweden).
The current view of old Griswold's Stone Cellar on Route 66:
The 1960s postcard shown below advertised it as a Bakery and Gift shop as well as a "Swedish Restaurant featuring Smorgasbord" adding: "We make our own fine preserves and candied fruits - Continental Bakery and gift Shop". They had another shop in Redlands on Ford St. and Freeway. As you can see, the small palm tree has grown considerably and is still there.
Griswold's Smorgasbord in a vintage postcard
Now head west along Route 66 and 0.6mi. on the south side of the road (take a "U" turn at N. Regis Ave. to reach it) to visit the boat shaped former Tugboat Annie's:
Americana - Kitsch on Route 66
962 W. Foothill Blvd. Claremont
Shaped like an actual tugboat, this building is unique. It dates back to the 1950s and was a real eye-catcher enticing travellers to eat seafood in a boat on Route 66.
It later became the "Original Shrimp House" - also serving seafood. vintage postcard showing it in the 1950s.
Tugboat Annie's as it looks today:
Tugboat Annie is a 1933 film starring Academy Award winer for Best Actress, Marie Dressler, and Wallace Beery. The movie was based on a serial published in the Saturday Evening Post, based on Thea Foss of Tacoma Washington. The film was a hit and was followed by two sequels "Tugboat Annie Sails Again" (1940) and "Captain Tugboat Annie" (1945) and a TV series in Canada (1957).
Tours & Itineraries
The Alignment of Old Route 66 in Claremont California
From Upland to Claremont
The first road through the area, built for cars, was the National Old Trails highway (N.O.T.), which was laid out in the early 1910s to link Los Angeles with New York. It followed the Santa Fe railroad tracks in California, Arizona and New Mexico and went through Claremont.
Route 66 in Claremont
The course of Route 66 between Upland and Claremont is a simple segment, both towns are next to each other so you will not notice where one ends and the other begins.
Route 66 extends for 2.1 mi along Foothill Boulevard in Claremont from Monte vista Avenue in the east to North Towne Ave. in the west, where it meets the city of Pomona.
This is a Map of Route 66 in Claremont.
> > See the previous segment Victorville to San Bernardino
> > See this segment San Bernardino to Pasadena (west)