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South Pasadena

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"Where Past is Present"

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South Pasadena in California on the 1926-31 and 1940-64 alignment of Route 66 has several attractions: the historic landmark Rialto Theatre, and the historic Flores Adobe built in 1839. Route 66 icons are the classic sign at Gus's Barbecue, the Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain which opened in 1915, the house that was the location for the "Halloween" Movie and the historic Oaklawn Bridge.

South Pasadena CA

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Pasadena ¦ Sierra Madre ¦ Arcadia



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About South Pasadena California

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation: 659 ft (201 m). Population 25,619 (2010).
Time zone: Pacific (MST): UTC minus 8 hours. Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7).

South Pasadena is a city located Route 66 in Los Angeles County in southern California and it is part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. (Map of South Pasadena).

Old Meridian Iron Works building in South Pasadena

Old Meridian Iron Works building in South Pasadena Route 66 California
View of the Meridian Iron Works building in South Pasadena ca. 1890s. Click image for Street View

The history of South Pasadena

This area has been inhabited for over 10,000 years. The Spaniards, when they explored the region in the 1600s encountered the "Tongva" people, and named them "Gabrieleños" or "Gabrielinos", after the San Gabriel Mountains.

In 1771 they established the San Gabriel Arcangel Mission in the area, which belonged to their Mexican colony. Mexico became independent from Spain in 1821 and in the 1830s nationalized the Mission's land.

Part of this land, was named Rancho del Rincon de San Pascual (Saint Paschal's corner Ranch) and it covered 13,694 acres (5.540 ha). The Rancho was granted to Juan Marine in 1834; and it later passed through other owners before being claimed by Manuel Garfias, who received it as a grant in 1843 from the Mexican Governor Micheltorena.

Garfias had already built the Flores Adobe by then. In 1852 he sold part of his interest to Benjamin Wilson and ended up selling his whole property to Wilson in 1858.

By then Mexico was defeated by the US in the 1846-48 war and lost California, which became a U.S. state in 1850.

In 1860 Wilson sold half of his holding in the Rancho San Pascual to John S. Griffin who in turn sold most of it to a group of investors from Indianapolis, Indiana who were looking for a warm and comfortable place to settle down in (1873).

The land which ran between Arroyo Seco River, and what is now Fair Oaks Ave. became the Indiana Colony, after the home state of the owners. The land to the east of it, belonged to Wilson and both merged into Pasadena and incorporated as a city in 1886.

However those living in the southern part of pasadena voted to gain more control over their land and decided to incorporate as a separate entity: South Pasadena was born, it incorporated in 1888 with 500 residents.

The Name, South Pasadena

The town added "South" to the name Pasadena, due to its southern location.

T. B. Elliott, president of the Indiana Colony had asked a friend, a missionary among the Chippewa Indians, to translate the name given by Manuel Garfías to this area ("the key to the Ranch"), into an Indian verison. This led to "Weoauqn Pa sa de na" (Crown of the Valley) which was shortened to "Pasadena".

The Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Railroad built a line along the Arroyo Seco and linked South Pasadena with L.A. This railroad was part of the Santa Fe Railroad after 1887 and it was linked by rail with the Eastern US.

The Pacific Electric Railway "Red Car" tramway built its line along the Arroyo Seco into South Pasadena, making it one of Los Angeles' first suburbs.

National Old Trails Highway (N.O.T.) in South Pasadena

The use of the automobile had grown greatly in the early 1900s, and the National Old Trails (N.O.T.) Association was formed to promote the construction of a highway linking New York with L.A. This road ran along Colorado St. and Foothill Blvd. eastwards towards San Bernardino, and south, through South Pasadena via Huntington Drive, into Los Angeles.

Route 66 in South Pasadena

Route 66 was established 1926 and was aligned along the N.O.T. highway in South Pasadena. It would suffer many changes in its alignment over the course of the years which we describe below: (US 66 in South Pasadena).

The Los Angeles freeway system began in 1940, with the Arroyo Seco Parkway that linked L.A. with Pasadena and which crossed South Pasadena, it became the new alignment of Route 66.

Arroyo Seco

Arroyo Seco (Spanish for "Dry Stream") is a temporary river that is almost 25 mi. long (40 km) running from the San Gabriel Mountains to its confluence with the Los Angeles River.

It was a natural route from Los Angeles to Pasadena and was used by the railroad, the electric trolley and the Arroyo Seco Parkway, the first freeway in LA, was built in 1940 as a parkway next to the Arroyo Seco which had been recently channeled.

More freeways followed and in the mid 1950s, the Interstate highways appeared. By 1964 Route 66 would begin to be replaced as a U.S. Highway in the area.


Where to Lodge near South Pasadena

Lodging close to South Pasadena

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>> Check out the RV campground near South Pasadena, in Pomona

The Weather in South Pasadena

Latest South Pasadena, California weather
Route 66: South Pasadena, California location map
Location of South Pasadena on Route 66

The climate in South Pasadena is a Hot Summer Mediterranean one. Rather dry and hot in summer but cool and wet during winter (which can bring heavy rains), the January night temperature often falls just below freezing. Spring is warm and Summers are hot, with high temperatures extending into October which brings a short Fall, cool and hot, erratic.

South Pasadena 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 very rarely fall in South Pasadena. You may experience some frost during winter (Dec. to Mar.)

Rainfall averages 21 in. per year (535 mm), most rain falls during the period from November to April, the rest of the year less than 0.5 in. falls monthly. There are 43.8 rainy days yearly.

Tornado risk

South Pasadena 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 South Pasadena

You can reach South Pasadena along old Route 66 or via Interstate 10, 15, 215, 610 or state higways 110 and 134. All of them are freeways.

The Map of U.S. 66 in South Pasadena, California

See the alignment of US 66 in South Pasadena, on our California Route 66 Map, it has the complete alignment across the state with all the towns along it.

The following color key applies to South Pasadena.

Blue: The 1926 to 1931 alignment of Route 66 through South Pasadena.
Orange: The 1931 -34 alignment along Mission St. and Pasadena Ave.
Green line: The 1935 alignment through Eagle Rock.
Red: The 1936 -39 alignment along N Figueroa St. -later named US 66 Alt.
Pale Blue: the 1940 - 1964 Route 66 through South Pasadena via the Arroyo Seco Parkway.
Black: the earlier, 1926 to 1935 Route 66 in Sierra Madre, northeast of South Pasadena.

Route 66's alignment in California: the Historic Route 66 into South Pasadena

Route 66 logo

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 South Pasadena.

South Pasadena's Attractions

Route 66 tourist spots

South Pasadena and its Route 66 attractions

South Pasadena has several Route 66 historic landmarks: Oaklawn Bridge, the Rialto Theatre and the 1839 Flores Adobe. Route 66 classic sign at Gus's Barbecue and the 1915 Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain. The house that was used to film "Halloween", the 1978 horror Movie.

Pasadena City tour

This is a 1.9 mile circuit visiting the main attractions in South Pasadena. See this map with directions.

Begin your tour on the north side of town, on Fair Oaks Avenue's 400 block, to your left you will see a Route 66 Attraction: Oaklawn Bridge

Oaklawn Bridge

Route 66 Attraction

This bridge predates Route 66 by 20 years. Built in 1906 by Charles and Henry Greene it is a concrete bridge that crosses over the Santa Fe railroad.

It spans 340 ft. with five reinforced concrete spans -one of the first bridges built with concrete in the US. It included a waiting station for those who travelled on the tram that ran along Fair Oaks. See its street view.

Now head east along Grevelia St. to visit the oldest building in town: Flores Adobe:

Flores Adobe House

Flores Adobe 1804 Foothill St. South Pasadena (Map showing location).

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Cultural Heritage Landmark of South Pasadena

Private property and the Oldest building in South Pasadena.

It was built probably by Manuel Garfias ca. 1839, who owned the Rancho San Pascual and originally had an "L" shape. It was built in adobe, that is, mud and straw bricks dried in the sun.

After being defeated in the final battle of La Mesa (Jan., 1847), Mexican General José María Flores retreated to his headquarters at the adobe and drafted what would be the Articles of Capitulation, a cesase fire known as Campo de Cahuenga Treaty. The adobe was named after him.

Around the 1860s, an east wing was added, so the house then had eight-rooms in a "U" shape around a central courtyard, covering over 3,700 sq. ft (344 m3).

Retrace your steps back to Fair Oaks Ave. and head south to see a Route 66 sign:

Gus's Barbecue - classic Sign

808 Fair Oaks Ave, South Pasadena

This steak restaurant has been open since 1946 and cooks its BBQ over pecan logs. Don't miss its neon sign.

Gus's Barbecue - classic Sign

Gus's Barbecue - classic Sign South Pasadena, Route 66 California
View of the sign at Gus's Barbecue in South Pasadena. Click image for Street View

Keep southbound and on the following corner, to your right is the Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain:

Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain

1526 Mission St. NW corner of Mission St. and Fair Oaks Ave.

Back in the early and mid 1900s, the Pharmacy not only sold medicine and filled prescriptions. They offered a wide range of services, from candies and gifts to milk shakes.

This place opened in 1915 under the name of "South Pasadena Pharmacy" and later became the Raymond Pharmacy. During the 1920s, Route 66 passed right in front of its doors.

It was rstored in the 1990s and became Fair Oaks Pharmacy & Soda Fountain and it is worth stopping by to see its vintage interior and the original soda fountain (you can order our malts, shakes, sundaes or eat a hamburger. The place also sells vintage and unusual candy.

Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain

Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain, South Pasadena, Route 66 California
View of the Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain in South Pasadena. Click image for Street View

Keep southbound and after two blocks, also on your right is the Historic Rialto Theatre:

Rialto Theatre

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

1023 Fair Oaks Ave. South Pasadena

It was built in 1925 following a Spanish Baroque style with Moorish details. The theatre could seat 1,200 people and had beautiful ornaments decorating its interior.

Rialto is the contraction of the Italian words "Rivo Alto" or "high" and "river" which was a mudflat where Venice, Italy was founded. The island became the mercantile quarter of medieval Venice so the name Rialto became a synonym for "business district".

The Rialto Theatre featured prominently in the movie LA LA Land.

Historic Rialto Theatre

Historic Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena, Route 66 California
View of the Historic Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena. Click image for Street View

Vaudeville shows and later films were played in the theatre until the mid 1930s, and after that only films.

It suffered two fires, on in the 1930s and another in 1968. It was almost torn down for redevelopment but local activists had it listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

It closed for good in 2007. And its listing has saved if from being demolished. As it is supposedly haunted, the ghosts that inhabit it must be delighted.

Head back to Mission Street and take a left along it. When you reach the tracks, cross them and take a right to visit the Location of the movie "Halloween":

Halloween Movie house

City Landmark and Movie famous location

1000 Mission St. On the north side of the tracks, at Mission St. and Meridian Ave.

This house, known as "Century House", which was built back in 1888 when the city incorporated, is one of the oldest buildings in South Pasadena. It is also the location of the 1978 movie "Halloween".

Director John Carpenter shot the low budget horror film here in 1978, it was the first "Halloween" movie and in it, murderer Mike Myers breaks loose after being hospitalized for 15 years and causes a blood-bath among the teens in his hometown. A classic which cost $400,000 and grossed over $70 million. See this Video trailer showing the house.

The building was moved here from its original location (709 Meridian).

Century House location of the 1978 film "Halloween"

Century House location of the 1978 film Halloween, South Pasadena, Route 66 California
View of the Century House location of the 1978 film "Halloween" in South Pasadena. Click image for Street View


Head back to Mission St., cross it and go south half a block. On your right is the Meridian Iron Works, the museum:

South Pasadena Museum

913 Meridian Ave.

The museum is housed in a very old building, the "Meridian Iron Works", Shown above. It has a collection of artifacts that portray the history of the region.

Trivia: South Pasadena Celebrities

Hilary Swank, Academy Award-winning actress; William Holden, Academy-Award winning actor; Joel McCrea, actor; David Lee Roth, member of Van Halen, singer.

Tours & Itineraries

Old Route 66 in South Pasadena California

The Original 1926 alignment of Route 66 through South Pasadena begins at Fair Oaks Ave. and Columbia St. and runs south until Huntington Drive, here it heads west along it and ends at W. Alhambra Rd., on the city limits with Los Angeles.

A variant ran along Mission St. to Highland Park L.A., from 1931 to 1934 and then south along Pasadena Ave.

The 1940 - 1964 alignment along the Arroyo Seco Parkwkway, begin at the north end of town, just past exit 31B and end on the western side of the Arroyo Seco River, where the freeway enters the L.A. district of Highland Park.

Now the detailed course of Route 66 from South Pasadena to Los Angeles:

From South Pasadena to Los Angeles

route 66 shield California

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 just south of Sierra Madre along Foothil Blvd.

The different alignments of Route 66 near South Pasadena

There were several alignments of Route 66 from South Pasadena into Los Angeles during the period spanning 1926 to 1940. It was only after 1940, when the Arroyo Seco Parkway became the route for US 66 into LA that these changes stopped. Contemporary maps don't clearly mark the course of US 66 into LA, but the following courses are clear:

1926 to 1931

This is shown in Blue in the Map above.

The 1927 and 1931 maps by the Automobile Club of Southern California shows the main highway (though not marked as US 66) running west along Foothill Blvd., south along San Gabriel Blvd. and then west again into Pasadena along Colorado Street. Here the road took a left and headed southwards into South Pasadena along Fair-Oaks Ave. past its downtown and south until meeting Huntington Drive, here it took a right and followed it until reaching North Broadway and followed it all the way into downtown Los Angeles. Ending on 7th. Street.

1931 to 1934 Variant

This is shown in Orange in the Map above.

This was an alternate secondary route shown on those same maps: From Mission St. in South Pasadena and then right, crossing the Arroyo Seco, and into Highland Park, along Pasadena Ave., and continuing along it until meeting N. Brodway and the other alignment.

1935 Alignment through Eagle Rock

This alignment bypassed South Pasadena and it is shown in Green line: in the Map above.

The 1935 map shows Route 66 crossing the Arroyo Seco along the Colorado Street Bridge, and then from Eagle Rock, heading west along Colorado Blvd., taking a left along Eagle Rock Blvd., and then another left along San Fernando Blvd. (which was also US 99) until reaching Los Angeles. The alternate route along Figueroa St. was marked as State highway 11.

1936-1939 Alignment

This route also bypassed South Pasadena and it is shown in Red in the Map above

By then the road had moved to Colorado Pl. and Colorado St. in Arcadia, bypassing Foothill Ave. in Sierra Madre. It kept the 1935 alignment until reaching Eagle Rock, but now headed south along the western flank of the Arroyo Seco via N. Figueroa St. which is now clearly marked on the map as US 66, and the former route is now marked as CA134 (Colorado Blvd.) and CA61 (Eagle Rock Blvd.).

1940 to 1964

Through South Pasadena. It is shown in Pale Blue in the Map above.

It followed the Arroyo Seco Parkway, which begins in southern Pasadena and continues through South Pasadena, and ends in Los Angeles:

Arroyo Seco Parkway

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places. National Civil Engineering Landmark. National Scenic Byway. California Historic Parkway.

The use of automobiles in LA had grown considerably in the 1920s so the city evolved and planned its layout around the car. This led to the First Freeway in the West being built in 1940.

It was a blend of "freeway" and "parkway". The freeway elements are the graded overpasses, the high-speed and limited-access road with on and off ramps. The parkway design can be seen in the landscaping and the fact that it ran through a parkland (ie.e Elysian Park).

It had 6 lanes and was designed for 27,000 automobiles per day (it now carries over 120,000 cars daily).

Several bridges and the four Figueroa Street tunnels for northbound traffic were built in Art Deco style. There are four bridges that predate the Parkway: The 1895 Santa Fe Arroyo Seco Railroad Bridge, the 1912 York Boulevard Bridge, the 1925 Avenue 26 Bridge, and the 1926 Avenue 60 Bridge.

Trucks were banned in 1943 and in 1953 it was extended to the Four-Level Interchange in downtown L.A. The following year it was renamed Pasadena Freeway.

It became the alignment of Route 66 and the old route along Colorado Blvd. and Figueroa St. became Route 66 Alt. It was this freeway carried travellers into Los Angeles during World War II and it set the example followed around the world for freeway construction.

The Arroyo Seco Parkway is California State Route 110 and runs from the interchange with U.S. 101 in downtown Los Angeles (mile post 23.69) to East Glenarm St. in Pasadena (mile post 31.89).

The Caltrans map of 1940 shows Route 66 aligned along the newly opened Arroyo Seco Parkway and also along Figueroa Street (which would become Route 66 Alternate), actually it is one of the earliest examples of the use of the "alternate" designation, which would become far more common during the early 1960s as Interstate highways bypassed the central districts in cities across the U.S.

The construction of I-210 in 1958 reduced the flow of cars along Colorado Blvd. and U.S. Highway 66 through Pasadena. When the interstate was completed in 1975, the US 66 shields were removed.

The course of Route 66 between Arcadia or Sierra Madre and Pasadena simple:all these towns are so close to each other that you will not notice where one ends and the other one begins.

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 San Bernardino to Pasadena (east)

> > See this segment Pasadena to Los Angeles (west)

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A Guide to the Golden State, Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration, Hastings House 1939.
Banner image: Hackberry General Store, Hackberry, Arizona by Perla Eichenblat.

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