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Claremont - City of Trees and PhDs

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 20, 2010 07:13pm | Post a Comment
This blog entry is about the city of Claremont. To vote for coverage of other Los Angeles County communities, click here. To vote for Los Angeles neighborhoods, click here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

Claremont City Hall
Claremont City Hall

INTRO

Claremont is the poshest of the three cities in the Los Angeles end of th Pomona Valley. It's bordered by La Verne to the west, Pomona to the southwest, Montclair to the southeast, Upland to the east and the Angeles National Forest to the north. My opinion of Claremont's poshness is almost entirely based on knowing someone from nearby Ontario who claimed to be from Claremont.

On Friday, I traveled in the CARDIS to La Verne to pick up Paul Vasquez (aka DJ Stingray – formerly DJ Superstar), who’s also an authority on, among many sci-fi things, the culture of Claremont.

GETTING TO AND AROUND CLAREMONT

If you don't have access to the CARDIS, the most pleasant way  to get to Claremont is via the Metrolink's San Bernardino Line, which has stops in the middle of everything at the Claremont Metrolink Station. Claremont is also served by the very nice Foothill Transit lines 187, 197, 480, 492, 699, and 855. People over 60 and anyone disabled can take Dial-a-Ride.  Pomona Valley Transportation Authority (PVTA), serves Claremont, La Verne, Pomona and San Dimas. Finally, groups of over six Claremontians can take Group Van Service.


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Claremont
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Claremont


Claremont is situated near the former Tongva village of  Torojoatngna.

John R. Rodman Arboretum John R. Rodman Arboretum
John R. Rodman Arboretum

PARKS

Due to its fairly green nature and the existence of seven colleges and universities, Claremont has the nickname "City of Trees and PhDs." As a matter of fact, the National Arbor Day Association has honored Claremont as a Tree City USA for the past nineteen years. We tried to visit the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden but a rather snippy harpy squawked at usaggressively. We merely asked if she’d mind us checking out the park (since it was still open according to the posted hours) and she shrieked nastily, “As a matter of fact I do!”

Luckily, there are fifteen other parks in the city where the staff have to be less unpleasant. We decided to check out some of the others. There proved to be no beasts guarding the smaller but welcoming John R. Rodman Arboretum.

Claremont Hills Wilderness Park
Claremont Hills Wilderness Park

Claremont Hills Wilderness Park - The Towers
The Towers (with teens in the grass)   

Claremont Hills Wilderness Park
                       The things they carried

Paul piloted his Saturn to the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park. The area known as “The Towers,” Paul informed me, is a popular place for teens to drink beer. Indeed, we did find evidence of both teens and several empty cans of a beverage billed as "high gravity lager." Memorial Park plays host in the spring to the Claremont Folk Music Festival and, in the summer, the Claremont Monday Night Concert Series. Also worth a mention -- but held in a park, is April's Kohoutek Music and Arts Festival.

Claremont - The Village
The Village

CHARACTER

Claremont's population today is roughly 64% white, 16% Latino (mostly Mexican) and 12% Asian (mostly Taiwanese), and 5% black. German-Americans and English-Americans are the largest ethnicities.

During our visit Claremont proved to be very quiet, as green as its reputation promises and full of spring blooms. Claremont is mostly residential and centered around a shopping area known as “the Village.” In the last few years, the formerly industrial area to the west of the village has been rezoned for commercial use and branded “Village West” (aka the “Village Expansion”). There are also many shops in the Claremont Inn Complex, attached to the Old School House.

The Press - Claremont The Press - Claremont
The Press

EATS

Some of the noted Claremont eateries include Some Crust Bakery, BC Cafe Kick Back Jack's, Inka Trails, Pollos Kikiryki, Patty's Mexican Foods, Viva Madrid, The Back Abbey, La Parolaccia Osteria Italiana, Saca's Mediterranean Cuisine, Bua Thai Cuisine and Walter's Restaurant. A chance encounter with KSPC’s fetching DeeJay Dia (host of Songs for the Whippersnapper Show ) resulted in her giving us a heads up about a relatively new joint, Ali Baba… but we returned from whence we started (for symmetry’s sake) to the Press to conclude our exploration as we’d begun, over some drinks at a venue known for its live music, often featuring local acts like AzBuka and the Baldy Mountain Jazz Band.

MUSIC

Claremont Folk Music Center

Ben Harper is a widely recognized native and his grandparents founded the Folk Music Center in 1958.

Rhino Records

Before Rhino became a re-issue label, it was a record store and it was at the Claremont location that I bought the best of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds on VHS about a decade ago.

KSPC Station Happy Hollows
                                Outside KSPC                                                                  Happy Hollows setting up

There’s also the radio station KSPC (88.7), which I can sometimes hear thirty or so miles away. Frank Zappa and the Dust Brothers both had a shows there at one time, as did DJ Superstar. When Paul and I popped in, we ran into Steven Hertz, host of the Videogame Music Show. We crashed the studio to find Happy Hollows setting up for a live performance to precede their gig at No-Chella.

Big Bridges

Whilst there, Paul showed me Bridges Auditorium (aka Big Bridges) … and Little Bridges, where he once walked out of a Cat Power show -- something that I can relate to.


THEATER, FILM & TV

Nestled in the the foothills is the Padua Hills Theatre, which was built back in the 1920s. Several films have been shot either in part or in whole in Claremont, including Teenwolf Too, Son of Flubber, Real Genius, Over the Top, The Fear, Dave, Beaches, The Absent Minded Professor, Gilmore Girls and the first shot in the opening credits of The Facts of Life.


Claremont is currently home to just one movie theater, Laemmle's Claremont 5. Though a multiplex, the Laemmle's chain show a good selection of first-run, independent and foreign films. The Claremont 5 opened on the location of an abandoned citrus packing plant.

Claremont was formerly home the 540-seat, single screen Village Theatre. It was by Sumner Spaulding, who also designed Harold Lloyd's Green Acres and the Avalon Theatre in Avalon. It opened in 1939 but I have no information as to when it closed.


CLAREMONT ORGANIZATIONS

For the history and preservation-minded, Claremont Heritage is an excellent organization. There almost have to be more bookstores in Claremont that I'm not aware of. All that I know of are Huntley Bookstore and The Claremont Forum. The latter is a non-profit organization and not just a bookstore although it seems to be one of the most well-reviewed bookshops in the city.

FURTHER READING AND VIEWING

If you'd like to read more about Claremont, there is Wayne L. McElreavy's Claremont (2012) -- part of the Images of America series. For viewing, Visiting...With Huell Howser episode #1511, "Citrus Packing House," delved more deeply into the culture and history of Claremont than the title might suggest.



*****


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