Old Town

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The latest Google Street View images of Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena seem to have been taken after sunset. How could this happen? It’s hard to see anything on the images but headlights and signs. As far as I know, there’s no way to view older pictures (though that would be a great feature).

Google’s quality control is slipping…

Last night marked two sad milestones in the Pasadena Symphony’s 82-year history and shows that the wrenching changes undergoing arts organizations in the Pasadena area (indeed everywhere), especially the Symphony, are still playing out.

The performance was the last for the Symphony to play at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium before moving to its new home at the Ambassador Auditorium on the former Ambassador College campus west of Old Town.  The Ambassador has the reputation of being “acoustically perfect” and is about half the size of the Pasadena Civic, which will certainly mean fewer empty seats at concerts (and there are a LOT of empty seats these days).  To me, though, it seems that a city-sponsored orchestra should perform in the city-owned venue, especially when it’s gorgeous, and right in the middle of a civic and commercial center.  It doesn’t seem right that they should move to a private church that’s isolated on an empty campus blocks away from anything.

The performance was also the last for longtime music director Jorge Mester.  After 25 years at the helm, contract negotiations fell through over a pay cut and he and the orchestra parted ways.  This news hit the day before the last performance of the season and I think came as a surprise to many.  The Pasadena Symphony and the Pasadena POPS have been in dire fiscal straits and merged a few years ago to help keep the organizations afloat.  The “Recovery Plan for a Sustainable Future” unveiled last year included a 10% cut for Mester, among others, but apparently recent negotiations were unsuccessful.  I hope this shift in key artistic personnel doesn’t damage the orchestra more than the $200,000 budget deficit already is.

The LA Times has a review of the evening.

Here’s Jorge Mester’s goodbye after the “Bravo Beethoven” performance, including the orchestra’s send-off:

I’ve never been to the Disney-MGM Studios theme park in Florida, so I had no idea that there are several facades in the “Sunset Boulevard” part of the park that are based on buildings in Pasadena.

Yesterland has a great collection of photos of buildings from the resort and the real buildings around LA that inspired them.

Next time you’re at the 35er in Old Town, remember it has a newer twin 3000 miles away.

Thanks to Brian Butko for the link.

After the 4.4 earthquake hit earlier this month at 4:04am, I thought two things:  1) We sure dodged a bullet at 10:00am when nothing happened.  2) I need to do a Then and Now about earthquakes.

On the left is earthquake pioneer, nudist, and Pasadena resident Charles Richter.  As a researcher at Cal Tech in the mid-1930’s, he and several others created what came to be known as the Richter scale .  The photo above was taken in his living room in 1963 as he observes his newly-installed seismograph.  The caption of the photo which originally appeared in the Herald-Examiner reads, “The Caltech professor of seismology had the instrument installed to facilitate his participation at night in two projects: the exchange of earthquake information with news people and the Seismic Sea Wave Warning Systerm of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey.”  Richter’s private life was quite tumultuous, and unconventional (given the times), and his high-profile public persona as a scientist was not without detractors, but his contribution to the first standardized measure of seismic activity had a profound effect in the region and worldwide almost immediately.  In 1979, the Richter Scale was replaced by the Moment Magnitude Scale, which is still in use today.  Charles Richter died in 1985 and is buried in Altadena.

On the right is Lucy Jones, the current media face of all things earthquake.  Though not a Pasadena resident, she is a Visiting Associate in Geophysics at the Cal Tech’s Seismology Laboratory, and Chief Scientist of the US Geological Survey’s Multi-Hazards Demonstration Project for Southern California.  I’ve seen her give a lecture and she’s very entertaining.

On March 10, 1933, the Newport-Inglewood fault ruptured with a magnitude of 6.4.  The Long Beach Earthquake caused great destruction around the Southern California area, as well as over 115 deaths.  Many schools and public buildings in the Long Beach area were constructed of unreinforced masonry and collapsed.  Had the trembler occurred during the school day and not at 5:54pm, countless children would have been killed.  The event ushered in the era of modern building codes with the passage of the Field Act by the California State Legislature, a mere month after the catastrophe.

The left photo is of the Huntington Hotel in Pasadena (built 1907), shortly after the earthquake.  The damage was repaired and the hotel continued to function as an opulent retreat for wealthy Easterners in search of warm winters.  By 1985, the facility, operated as a Sheraton, was deemed to be unsafe in the event of a major earthquake, and was closed.   After the Gemtel corporation purchased it, they decided to raze the building and construct a new hotel on the site.  Pasadena preservationists fought the proposal, but the project was approved by a voter referendum, and the old hotel was torn down in 1989.  Not many people realize that the Ritz-Carlton—now the Langham—is actually a relatively new building, opened in 1991 (pictured right).

The Whittier Narrows earthquake on October 1, 1987  killed eight people and caused widespread damage, especially in the San Gabriel Valley.  This building in Old Town Pasadena collapsed during the 5.9 quake.  Here’s the Herald-Examiner’s caption for the photo on the left (incorrectly stating the city):

Dave Adams (L) was working inside when this building collapsed at 101 South Fair Oaks, in South Pasadena. This was a two story auto repair shop. The roof pancaked and the north wall fell over onto parked cars which were flattened. Adams was one of the two men who escaped.

Flattened cars along the north wall.

This is what the building looked like before the earthquake (it’s the smaller of the two buildings that is now a parking lot).  The photo on the left was taken by Terry Griest in 1984 and is part of a great collection of images on Petrea Burchard’s Pasadena Daily Photo blog.  She also has a wonderful then and now about the adjacent Hotel Carver.

Also damaged in the 1987 quake was the Pasadena Elk’s lodge across the street from the Norton Simon on Colorado.  This fallen chimney was among the $358 million in total damage to property caused by the earthquake.

Two interesting bits regarding Charles Richter.  He reportedly kept detailed logs of Star Trek episodes.  And he offered this piece of earthquake safety advice in a 1971 interview:

Q: If the building you are in now started to shake and you knew an earthquake was occurring, what would you do?
A: I would walk – not run – to the nearest seismograph.