Historic Walking and Driving Tours

In 2012, the City of Pasadena received a grant from the California Office of Historic Preservation, through the Certified Local Government program, to create a public information program about historic resources in Pasadena. The program involved the creation of walking & driving tours that would be accessible in three ways: a smart phone app, the City’s website and a printed brochure. Each of these components is described in more detail below. The primary goal of the project is to foster greater understanding of buildings and sites that are important to the City’s history and of the value of the City’s historic preservation program. We trust that you find these materials to be informative and entertaining and welcome your comments on any suggested improvements. See the bottom of this page for contact information.

“Historic Pasadena” Smart Phone Application

The “Historic Pasadena” smart phone app has three primary functions:

1. Search for any historic resources near your current location
2. Search for specific kinds of historic resources (such as architectural styles, works of a particular architect, etc.)
3. Follow pre-defined mobile tours created by the City and other agencies

Each of these options will include the ability to obtain walking, driving or transit or directions to each point on the tour from your current location. Information about each stop on the tour will also be accessible, based on data that is included in the City’s online database of historic resources, known as the California Historical Resources Inventory Database, or CHRID. The smart phone app is available for both iPhone and Android devices and the full CHRID database can also be accessed HERE.

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Website & Brochure

Below are links devoted to each of the mobile tours created for this project, as well as a link to download the mobile app. A separate page for each tour has been created and may be easily printed from a desktop computer. A color brochure has also been created that provides similar tour information, but most of the tours are shortened due to space constraints. In addition to the tours developed for this project, the Pasadena Convention & Visitor’s Bureau has developed a series of tours that are accessible from their website, http://www.visitpasadena.com. These tours will soon be accessible from the Historic Pasadena Mobile App.

Historic Preservation

The City of Pasadena adopted its first ordinance protecting historic structures in 1969 and has been surveying and documenting its historic resources since this time. The City is widely renowned for its commitment to historic preservation and for the presence of numerous sites and districts that are significant at the local, state and national level.

The City’s historic preservation program promotes the identification, evaluation, rehabilitation, adaptive use, and restoration of historic structures. The program also includes incentives for preserving and rehabilitating historic buildings and sites. For more information about the City’s historic preservation program, or to provide comments or suggestions on the Historic Pasadena app, website or brochure, you may email Kevin Johnson, Project Manager at kevinjohnson@cityofpasadena.net, call (626) 744-7806 or visit our public counter at 175 N. Garfield Avenue, window 4.

Mobile Tours

Bungalow Courts Walking Tour

Pasadena is considered the birthplace of the bungalow court, and this walking tour of South Marengo Avenue will show you a variety of groupings of small-scale individual housing units around a central focal point – a lawn, planted courtyard, or lamp posts – including some designed by leading Pasadena architects.  Although they represent a range… Read More »

Bungalow Courts Driving Tour

Pasadena is considered the birthplace of the bungalow court and this driving tour will show you 17 bungalow courts across the city, most of which are individually listed or are eligible to be listed on the National or State Registers of Historic Places.  Some are groupings of small-scale individual housing units around a lawn or… Read More »

Cultural Landscapes Driving Tour

Pasadena has a unique legacy of historic designed gardens. Originating as an agricultural settlement, the Pasadena area attracted residents and tourists seeking a healthful climate and new opportunities. Pasadena was soon synonymous with its environment: tranquil orchards, vast estate gardens, and luxurious seasonal resorts populated with specimen trees, shrubs, and flowers.  Many pioneering landscape architects… Read More »

Mid-Century Modern Houses Driving Tour

This tour features the work of architects who were leaders in the development of Modern design such as Richard Neutra, Harwell Hamilton Harris, and John Lautner, as well as the prominent local firm of Buff & Hensman (some with their early partner Calvin Straub), one of the influential Case Study Program houses, and a rare… Read More »

Mid-Century Modern Non-Residential Buildings Driving Tour

It was in the postwar era that dramatic shifts in commercial development occurred, largely due to the impact of the automobile. Historic downtown centers were abandoned for new regional shopping centers that were developed to serve the sprawling suburbs, and also in response to the automobile culture that enjoyed the freedom of new freeways and… Read More »

Neon Signs Driving Tour

Neon signs were popular throughout the United States between 1920 and 1960. Pasadena has many examples from this period, the earliest of which dates back to 1926 (the Bekins Storage Company Sign at 511 South Fair Oaks Avenue). The City has surveyed this signs on two occasions for the purpose of protecting them as significant… Read More »

Pegfair Estates Ranch Houses Walking Tour

The Linda Vista area, located at the base of the San Rafael Hills on the west side of the Arroyo Seco, developed somewhat later than central Pasadena.  Winter visitors from Pasadena hotels made day trips to enjoy its natural features, as well as the Park Nursery that was established in 1887. Among the large homes… Read More »

Victorian Era Grandeur Walking Tour

During the 1890s, South Orange Grove Boulevard became known as Pasadena’s “Millionaires Row” due to the construction of many grand homes on the former agricultural homesites of the “San Gabriel Orange Grove Association” founders.  Although the 1914 Wrigley mansion at the end of this tour was built too late for the Victorian period of significance… Read More »

Victorian Era Neighborhoods Walking Tour

In these three Victorian-era neighborhoods you will see a variety of homes built in Pasadena’s early years.  The Bristol-Cypress historic district is the earliest subdivision of the San Gabriel Orange Grove Association (1886), and its name remembers pioneer A.O. Bristol, whose home was located nearby.  The homes in the slightly-later New Fair Oaks historic district,… Read More »