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Home / Walking Tours

Another Way to Discover the History of Old Pasadena

Julia Long Founder and Tour Guide of Pasadena Walking Tours, briefly explains about some of the permanent art pieces in Old Pasadena. – Photo by Alex Cordero / Beacon Media News

By Alex Cordero

On May 12th, Old Pasadena hosted the 2nd annual BoldPas: An Art Takeover of Old Pasadena. The event featured interactive art exhibits with over 25 art stops and activities. BoldPas is exposed to the public all over historic locations in Old Town Pasadena. I had the opportunity to explore this exhibit while learning the history of Pasadena.

The walking tour was led by Julia Long, Founder and Tour Guide of Pasadena Walking Tours. Our meeting point was in front of Levitt Pavilion in Memorial Park, one of the earliest parks established in the City of Pasadena. The park was originally known as Library Park, for the first Library built for the city. The Library’s only surviving piece is the Entrance Arch that still stands today at the northwest corner of Memorial Park.

After our quick encounter with Memorial Park we started our BoldPas trail down Big Bang Theory.  This alleyway, named after the comedy sitcom, was the original train trail in the City of Pasadena. You can make sense of the quirky alley once you realize there were once train tracks set there once upon time. As we walked through, this now paved railroad, we met with Todd Bank, a Los Angeles native and Founder of Waste Art. His feature ‘The Waste Parade’ is a zero-waste art installation made up of post-consumer waste materials. It was a fun way to lend tribute to the Tournament of Roses Parade, which gave our tour guide the segue to share with us a little bit of how the famous parade came to be. Established by the Valley Hunt Club, The Rose Parade was created as an attraction for the people in the Midwest back in 1890 and to showcase that in this new City of Pasadena you had all the components you needed to grow flowers year long. The parade began with city locals decorating their cars with flowers grown in their own backyards. Now the Tournament of Roses Parade is an event recognized worldwide.

Another interesting temporary art display that uses the history of Pasadena as part of its   expo was ‘A Puzzle for Pasadena’. Created by Keith Patterson and Viviana Palacio this large- scale puzzle brought learning tools and the origin of Pasadena’s name together as part of  the answer to solve the puzzle. The exhibit encouraged BoldPas passengers to take part in solving the puzzle throughout the day by using printed instructions, colors, and patterns to rearrange wooden tiles inside a grid on separate rectangular settings. While applying this interactive learning tool invented in the 1960’s you also discovered the meaning of the city’s name. Luckily for us, we had Julia our tour guide who knew the history behind the city’s name and might have had the answer to the puzzle. She informed us that while the city’s first settlers of an Indiana Colony applied for a Post Office they had to come up with a name for the city. The colonists liked the word Pasadena very much. The name is derived from the Chippewa language and it means ‘of the valley’. Keeping their previous nickname ‘Crown of the Valley’ in mind, they decided to name the city Pasadena and kept a crown and key design for the city’s symbol.

This was a unique way to learn about Pasadena’s history and its origins. It gave the opportunity to engage and meet with local artists, and to become a more insightful Pasadena local yourself. Next time you find yourself walking through Pasadena be more aware of your surroundings. There is plenty of historical preservation in Old Pasadena that you can appreciate and admire.

To obtain more information about Pasadena Walking Tours and upcoming events please visit pasadenawalkingtours.com.

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