Pasadena’s claim to fame rests on a Single day’s activities: the annual New Year’s Day Tournament of Roses Parade and the Post—parade Rose Bowl football game. Parade festivities have been held here yearly since 1890, when citizens first draped garlands of fresh blossoms over horse-and-buggy teams and carts in a celebration of the Southland’s mild winter climate. The “Battle of the Flowers” originally climaxed with a gala Roman chariot race. The races were thought to be too dangerous, however, so a substitute event—the national football college championship game known as the Rose Bowl—has been held since 1916.
Those who feel overwhelmed by the epic scale and relentlessly wholesome quality of the Roses Parade may enjoy a rival venture, the November Doo Dah Parade, which has fast become an institution. The Doo Dah has no floats, no queens (except, perhaps, in drag), and, best of all, no television celebrities. Its stars are the precision briefcase drill team and assorted zanies with lawnmowers, supermarket carts, and odd musical instruments.
Pasadena had a false start in 1873, after Midwestern pioneers established a farming community here, giving it a name that means “Crown of the Valley” in the Chippewa Indian language. The tiny settlement exploded during the land boom of 1886, when Pasadena had 53 active real estate agencies for a population of less than 4,500 people. Promoters arranged five daily trains to Los Angeles and a special Theater Express to the downtown area three nights a week. Salespeople advertised the region’s sunny, healthful climate, hotels were quickly erected, and get-rich-quick schemes proliferated. The city incorporated in 1886, but the boom collapsed, the population dwindled, and town lots, once clamored for, grew weeds. But soon the clear air, citrus blooms, and mountain views (now but a memory) began to draw a steady stream of affluent Easterners. The Ritz-Canton Huntington Hotel and the Hotel Green (now converted to apartments) are reminders of an era when this was a fashionable winter resort. And the Craftsman bungalows, designed by architects Charles and Henry Greene, evidence how some travelers stayed on.
Pasadena’s population increased through several small booms in the 1920s until it became the most important suburb of Los Angeles. LA’s first freeway the 1942 Arroyo Seco Parkway stimulated commuter traffic. As of 2010 the population was 137,122 residents —a mixture of old money to the north and the south, along with opulent houses, lush gardens, and outstanding scientific and cultural resources