West Pasadena in 1886: A Wonderful Little City

1886 was an eventful year in early Pasadena. Incorporation as a city was finalized on June 19, but a transformation from the agricultural village founded in 1874 was already underway.

On February 23, 20 acres of property along Colorado and South Saint John, originally belonging to Dr. O.H. Conger, was sold by real estate investors at auction. On March 12, the five acre site of the Central School on the southeast corner of Colorado and Fair Oaks was auctioned, and a real estate boom was evident to all.

On June 11, the Pasadena & Valley Union reported that the amount of real estate transfers for the first five months of the year “reveals a rush and a whirl of business activity in buying and selling and building that makes the easy-going old-timer stand dumb with amazement …”

The Pasadena Star noted with pride on August 25 that “Pasadena, the new-born Garden of Eden, has been lithographed in fine shape. The view of Pasadena is par excellance - just such as would give eastern people a very good idea of what this little city is. The buildings, groves, orchards, vineyards, etc. show very distinctly every street and avenue correctly drawn ….”

On November 24, 1886 the Pasadena Star described the first lithograph of the city as “that magnificent birds-eye view of Pasadena, the finest lithograph view ever made in California …” West Pasadena is depicted with extensive orchards and few homes before the building boom that would change the area.

The excitement of the boom was conveyed by the Star on November 24 – “Pasadena is booming in every department, and everybody is supremely happy." “Every day adds to the beauty, the pride and glory of Pasadena. Brick blocks are going up on every hand, scores and scores of fine residences are being erected and real estate is changing hands at the rate of hundreds of thousands of dollars in actual cash value every week.”

On December 29, the Star printed a column of the boasts of Pasadena. “Pasadena is growing more rapidly than any other city in the state.” “We have no blizzards, no cyclones, no thunder storms, no lightning rod peddlers and no bed bugs. Pasadena is a wonderful little city.”

- Kirk Myers

This article was originally published in the Winter 2016 issue of West Pasadena Residents' Association's The News.