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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…

I remember watching the Emmys years ago, seeing an actress accept her award by gushing something to the effect of thanking “the people of this town for your support.”  A few minutes later, David Letterman, either as host or winner, dryly wondered aloud whether when she referred to the people of “this town,” she was referring to Hollywood… or to Pasadena?

From 1977 to 1997, the Primetime Emmys were held at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.  Between 1998 and 2001, Pasadena was relegated to the Creative Arts Emmys.  Now, there are none handed out here at all.  The awards are coming up this weekend and I thought we could take a look back at some great Pasadena Emmy moments.

So let’s take our Emmy time machine to that magical decade known as the 80’s and see the glamour on the red carpet on Green Street.

Not much has changed at the Auditorium since 1980.  Though the area around it is quite different these days, now that the new convention center next door is complete.  Let’s run across the street and watch the stars as they arrive…

Why there’s Danny Glover in 1985.  And what’s that behind him?  It IS!  The Plaza Pasadena mall, replaced by the Paseo!

Could anyone outdo Danny’s fabulous outfit?  Of course Betty White can.  There she is, sassy as always, nominated for her role on “Saturday Night Live.”  I mean “The Golden Girls.”  Jamie Lee Curtis has a warm glow around her.  And there’s Fred Savage, and Tim Reid!  All from 1989.

Let’s sneak inside…

The 1980 set design is definitely pre-high-def.

But I don’t want to miss the action out front.  Back outside we go…

What happened?!  Our time machine seems to have malfunctioned and taken us back to 1932.  These unidentified young ladies happened by a construction site and posed for a picture in front of the nearly completed building.  Just look at them there.  What riffraff.  What commoners.  They don’t know the meaning of well-dressed or style or glamour.

At last.  Back to the 80’s.  I’ll leave you with some well-dressed celebrities arriving in their Emmy finest for television’s most important night.  What style!  What glamour!

Happy Emmy watching!

The 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards.  Sunday Aug. 29, 8:00ET (5:00PT), NBC.

(Images from the LA Public Library Photo Collection)

Pasadena’s Memorial Park is has all kinds of interesting treasures hidden around it.  The park is basically in Old Town, and the Gold Line stops right next to it.  If you haven’t explored Memorial Park, here are 5 things to see you may not know were there:

1.  Civil War Memorial (1906)

2.  Vietnam Veterans Memorial (2004)

Originally dedicated in 1993 at City Hall, it was rededicated in the park nine years later.  Inscribed on the granite are the names of the 31 Pasadena men killed during the Vietnam war.

3. Miniature Pasadena Train Station Playground

I don’t know when this playground was built or the story behind it, but stumbling upon it inspired me to write this entry.

Bult in 1935, Pasadena’s actual Santa Fe depot was shuttered in the early 90’s.  It was moved, integrated into the Del Mar Station development, restored, and now houses La Grande Orange Café.  Lots more on the station here. (Photo via

4.  Memorial Library Arch (1955)

Pasadena’s public library was erected on this spot in 1890.  The building was damaged in the Long Beach earthquake of 1933 and was demolished in 1954.  The archway was restored in 1955 but was subsequently damaged during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.  It’s been fenced off ever since, and is an unfortunate exhibit of of crumbling bricks and pigeon guano.  Here’s the accompanying plaque:

5.  A show at Levitt Pavilion (1930’s)

New York philanthropist Mortimer Levitt made his fortune selling custom made shirts at his nationwide chain of stores.  The Levitt Foundation he created in 1966 has restored and endowed several open air bandshells around the country through public-private partnerships to bring free live music to the community during the summer.  Since 2002, the Levitt Pavilion Pasadena has featured music and children’s shows five nights a week from June through August.

Soul Funk’s Motown Revue on August 12, 2010.

I’ve seen Peter Schickele, the Weird Al of classical music, perform PDQ Bach shows several times, and was fortunate enough to meet him at a record signing in Pittsburgh some years ago.  He’s invented a number of odd instruments that he plays as part of the show, though video is quite hard to find.  A few very old clips are available for purchase, but you’ll have to roll the cursor over each one in order to view them.

One of Peter Schickele’s longtime collaborators is Jorge Mester, former music director of the Pasadena Symphony, and several of Schickele’s works have had their world premieres with the orchestra.

More grim employment news for the San Gabriel Valley reported in the Pasadena Star News.  The unemployment rate held virtually steady at 12.2% countywide.  And the small, affluent town of Bradbury seven miles east of Pasadena has no one on the unemployment rolls and is still facing a rate of 7.3%.

The Milestone Theatre Company is mounting a production of The Laramie Project to benefit the LGBT community in Pasadena.  Tickets are $25 with proceeds going to the AIDS Service Center and PFLAG of Pasadena.  The Laramie Project follows the true experiences of the actors in the Tectonic Theatre Project as they interview the residents of Laramie, Wyoming in the aftermath of gay college student Matthew Shepard’s brutal murder.  The show runs July 23rd to August 1st at the Church of Truth in Pasadena.  To buy tickets, visit the or

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:

Today, Kevin and I got to go behind the scenes of Adenoid Hynkel’s palace in Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. We also stopped by city hall in Pawnee, Indiana of Parks and Recreation fame.  Then we trekked the magical world of San Francisco as portrayed in the Kevin Costner / Jennifer Anisten vehicle Rumor Has It.

Of course, all of those places are actually at the same location: Pasadena City Hall.  And thanks to the city’s Public Information Officer Ann Erdman, we got an up-close VIP tour, along with several new-found friends in the Pasadena blogosphere.  Let’s go inside.

Ann tells the storied tale of Pasadena’s history and the architectural significance of the building.

Some of the rich architectural details, including the Pasadena seal of a crown and key (a compromise stemming from a disagreement among the city’s founders as to whether “Pasadena” meant “Crown of the Valley” or “Key of the Valley” in Chippewa).  There are also bands of fruit symbolizing abundance, lions representing strength, and the strange face of a man with a walrus mustache.

Pasadena’s newest city council members.  Kevin thinks it’s a wonder that the City Council can stay awake during meetings, knowing first hand how comfy their leather chairs are.

Thanks, Ann, for a great afternoon!

By the way, Rumor Has It is set in Pasadena and includes a veritable tour of Pasadena’s landmarks.  But in no way is it worth watching.  I recommend the original Graduate instead.

Yesterday was the South Pasadena Eclectic Music Festival and it was a wonderful event.  There was plenty of fantastic free music and it looked like the event did a lot to continue the revitalization of South Pas’s beautiful central business district.  As a salute to one of my favorite cities, here are some images of Pasadena’s small neighbor to the south:

South Pasadena Bank, now Kaldi Coffee Shop at 1019 El Centro Street.  This and other area banks were founded by George W. E. Griffith, who relocated from Kansas to the Highland Park neighborhood of LA in 1900.  The photo was taken c. 1907.  The building was built in 1904 and was the first bank building in South Pas.  It held the city’s offices from 1908 until 1914 when the town finished its city hall.  Kaldi has been used as a location for several TV shows and movies, recently including Brothers & Sisters and a great episode of Modern Family.

First National Bank at Fair Oaks and Mission St.  Notice how all of the overhead power and phone lines have been moved underground?  The photo on the left appears to have been taken when it was about to open, as there is a man lifting a door into place.  Either that or he’s robbing the joint.  The image is dated 1922, and the original caption states that Security First National Bank later occupied this location at 824 Fair Oaks.  The building underwent a renovation in what I think was the 1940’s, and was Gandell’s Furniture when I lived in South Pas (lower image).  It is currently being remodeled again and some of the historical detailing that had been covered up is now being restored.  Its original use will also be restored—ComericA bank is moving in to the location.

The view north on Fair Oaks, 1936.  The row of attractive buildings on the left including a liquor store, Ford dealership, and drug store have been replaced by the parking lots for Pavillions and Vons.  The Masonic Temple on the right side of the street is still there, along with the adjacent structures.  The site of the Chevron gas station is still occupied by a gas station, only now a 76.  The most striking difference is the absence of the Red Car tracks down the middle of the street, which ran from Oneonta Junction at Huntington (behind us) up through Pasadena.  The Northern District passenger service was discontinued September 30, 1951.

The Lucretia R. Garfield House.   The house was designed by Greene and Greene for the widow of James Garfield, the U. S. President who was assassinated in 1881.  Lucretia Garfield was a distant relative of the Greenes, and they made many compromises on the design in deference to her active involvement with the project.  The house was completed in 1904.  She died March 14, 1918.

Bonus (as seen on TV!):

Just a few doors down from the Garfield House is a filming location for Brothers & Sisters.  This is Sarah Walker’s house as seen in Season 4 Episode 17 “”  I’m pretty sure this is not the place that was previously used for exterior establishing shots of Sarah’s house.

(Photos from the LA Public Library, South Pasadena Public Library, Google Street View)

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.