Pasadena History Corner


I’ve now strolled about 1/2 mile east down Colorado Blvd stopping at the intersection with Lake Ave. Catch my breath before this scribe continues scribbling about bits & pieces of our Pasadena history.

If you live or work here, or just interested in Pasadena beyond what you know happened on January 1st – which recycles & reverberates to this day – then this is just one tiny hole in the wall place to visit.  Of course you should ck out museums, information officers, librarians/books, historians, old-timers, et al, who have forgotten more than I can ever know! 

Which brings me to Lake & Colorado.  This is arguably the most important intersection of streets in Pasadena, with Orange Grove & Colorado where the Tournament of Roses Parade really begins being the most well-known.


If this were 1928, when I looked diagonally across to the southeast corner of Lake & Colorado this would’ve met my eyes:


SE Corner of Lake/Colorado-Pasadena 1928

BEFORE: Circa 1928.Oak Knoll Bank Building. 6 Stories. Main tenant was the Oak Knoll branch of the Los Angeles First National Trust & Savings Bank.


As mentioned, this is perhaps the most important intersection in Pasadena. And that particular corner has buried some history into it. We know, for instance, in the late 1800’s it was used for a fruit drying business. Next in 1907, some Christians planted the Lake Avenue Methodist Church at that corner. The church then moved further east on Colorado to what is now the Holliston Avenue Methodist Church across that world famous restaurant McDonald’s. I’ve been inside that church yet its the exterior which is more impressive. imho.

After the Methodists left, the bankers took possession of that real estate with the Italian Renaissance style building pictured above. And ever since, banks have done their business on that corner.  Yet, the times they are a changin’ for that corner and that whole block between Lake & Mentor. Big changes, they say.  You can read more about it from historians more studious than me such as a fellow blogger at Avenue to The Sky.


When you pass through this intersection today you’ll see the latest bank to call the southeast corner its home – Bank of America.  I’ve been inside this building as well.


AFTER: June 2011. Bank of America. 2-stories.


Aliens landing on earth upon seeing these two photos for the 1st time would probably jump to such conclusions as these:

  • Our ancestors built artistic or better looking buildings.
  • However it doesn’t look like air-conditioning was discovered in time for the old Oak Knoll building.
  • Since the 20’s color must’ve been discovered.
  • Traffic street fixtures were more ornamental & artistic, compared to the more utilitarian, impersonal, military looking fixtures of today.
  • You could park your car directly in front & side of the old building. Today only pit stops for buses are allowed near the youngster.
  • The LA First building appears to have had parking entrances on both Colorado & Lake. Same thing for the B of A today.
  • Perhaps joining the circus was a popular career move in the wired 20’s judging by the many high-wire acts we see between buildings?!  Certainly people back then were more wired & connected then we now.
  • Finally, ck out the building in the background of the left corner. It’s a hotel and the same building. Still standing! (Unlike the Oak Knoll building which was killed off about 40 years past now) Back then it was called the Hotel Constance. Today it’s the Pasadena Manor Retirement Hotel. And it has been “retired” in the sense it’s vacant, fenced, and boarded up. The only sign of life there besides maybe ghosts is when visitors use it for Rose Parade viewing. A renovation and eventual reopening of the Hotel is planned for the next couple of years.


Anyone have a historical connection to that corner or block of Pasadena?  And if you’re really interested in this history stuff then, very sadly, you are one of the very rare few. But then that makes you special. Exceptional.  🙂


PS: If you want to know if anything else has happened in that intersection, well, here’s just a bite: Meeting at Lake & Colorado.


Gotta Get Doing! Stay Thirsty My Friends



17 responses to “Pasadena History Corner

  1. Cafe, this is fantastic stuff. Apparently everyone here is exceptional, because we are obviously loving it. Thank you for your research, and I love the list of things the aliens would notice.

    • Yeah PB, I think history – especially our history is fantastic. Unfortunately the research required is not what’s gonna make me a more frequent blogger. I envy the daily bloggers.

    • Thanks, TA (or VA)! Everyone has a higher regard for my history than me, myself, and I. I was gonna say we’re in June now & it’s about time you did your monthly Ave to the Sky blogpost. But, thankfully, I see you must’ve been reading my mind! (TA is one of the more studious Pasadena historians I’m talking about. Ck out his blog in the link above in this posting or find him in my blog roll to the right)

  2. I’m thinking I’m really far behind on your blog and I’ve missed some great posts.

    I love that old building. What a shame they demolished it. I appreciate how you’ve pointed out the differences between the two photos. I would’ve missed some details.

    • SC, imagine how far behind you wood bee if I was a daily blogger! I ck’d yours over the weekN & I’m missing a new posting from you.

      PA, thanks for your liking. Note: I wasn’t present for all these “Before” fotos!

  3. oh yeah, liking this series. Glad you go to the same angle to do the after shots. Makes a big difference in understanding the change. Hey, new icons for all? packman? darn! I’m just a dim bulb among the hoopla

  4. Boy, you’ve pulled this blog together for an impressive race down the homestretch; just in time for graduation! History at its best, or at least for me, most palatable. (The building behind the building, the one still standing, is rather gorgeous.)

    • KB, as I read some of my blog postings, I can see I still haven’t “pulled this blog together.”. But I think I’m making good progress with the palatability test..

      Thks, Erika. Love the your fashionable blog & U2.

    • ShSh, hmmm…I’m thinking it has another use beyond the obvious too.
      Pulled Porker, you’re unusual in that regard.. Well, so am I. Anything about food in those local history books?

  5. I love this kind of stuff, actually. On my top bookshelf right now, in addition to a dozen cookbooks (and biographies of Vin Scully and Keith Richards) are two photobooks on Pasadena history.

    • Pulled Porker, thanks & it’s good to know a food blogger likes a pictorial history series. I find most don’t care. Maybe it reminds them of school.