California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Pasadena, The Crown City of Roses

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 4, 2012 09:23pm | Post a Comment

The Pasadena skyline from the San Rafael Hills

Well, I can now admit (now that I'm finally done with it) that I honestly waited and prayed that another neighborhood or community would pass Pasadena in the polls. 

At the time of writing, Bunker Hill (in Downtown Los Angeles), El Monte (in the San Gabriel Valley), Lincoln Heights (in The Eastside) and Mt. Washington (in Northeast LA) are all tied for second place. All of those places seem comparatively way more manageable. Pasadena, I worried, is just too big to summarize in a single blog entry. True, I've tackled the larger (population-wise) Glendale as well as Long Beach (the second largest city in LA County -- after Los Angeles, of course). But even at ninth largest in population (also exceeded by the populations of Santa Clarita in Northwest County, Lancaster and Palmdale in the Antelope Valley, Pomona in the Pomona Valley and Torrance in the South Bay) but Pasadena is big in other ways -- almost too stuffed with culture and history to address in this format.  Alas, however, the people have spoken, so this entry is indeed about Pasadena. Now that I'm finally done, I hope it approaches adequate.

For this blog, I was accompanied by veteran travelling companion Diana Roark, who's been coming along on these exploratory missions since Season 4's episode 16, "Silver Lake - There goes the gayborhood" and Genevieve Liang, making her first appearance after an aborted mission to Compton in which the CARDIS broke down its penultimate time - before its complete annihilation. 

Before we begin, if you'd like to vote for any other communities of Los Angeles County, vote here. I've you'd to vote for any communities in Orange County, click here. And finally, if you'd like to vote for any neighborhoods of Los Angeles, vote here.


As I mentioned, Pasadena is only the ninth largest city in the county. It's bordered by Highland Park, Eagle Rock, South Pasadena, San Marino, Temple City, San Gabriel, Arcadia, Sierra Madre, La Cañada Flintridge, and Altadena. Although modern day Pasadena is mostly located in the San Gabriel Valley, it was first settled near the foothills of the San Rafael range, a mountain range separated from the larger Verdugo Mountain range by the Verdugo Wash. Most of Pasadena is situated on a broad alluvial slope at the mouth of the Crescenta Valley, partially separated from the rest of the San Gabriel Valley proper by the Kinneloa Mesa at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains in the east and the rolling hills of Chan Marino and South Pas to the south. Although with each annexation of the defenseless, unincorporated community of East Pasadena, the city Pasadena spreads further into the San Gabriel Valley proper.

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Pasadena


The first time I visited Pasadena was in 1999 after I drove with my friend Seth (a Chino native) from Iowa City to the Southland. We went to Poo-Bah, a beloved local record store established in Pasadena in 1971. As someone new to California, my knowledge of Pasadena was pretty much limited to the Rose Parade and the Jan & Dean surf-pop song, "Little old lady from Pasadena," and I asked Seth if we could walk to the beach from where we were, not realizing that the Pacific was about 46 kilometers west. While we were in Poo-Bah, a commercial was being filmed explaining that some Pacific Gas and Electric Company customers would now be making out their checks to Southern California Edison. Poo-Bah had presumably been chosen in a bid to seem hip and edgy. Reinforcing this notion, the two characters explaining the change were introduced as "Duane" and "Mirth", a thinly-veiled reference to the recurring SNL stars of "Wayne's World" introduced a mere twelve years earlier. This immediately made me feel less intimidated by SoCal cool or the threat of culture shock. 


Marston's in Pasadena

Diana, Genevieve and I arrived in Pasadena on a crisp, clear, autumn day. We started off with a fine meal at Marston's, a well known local eatery established in a Craftsman home back in 1987.

Inside A'Float Sushi

When I first moved to LA and worked in Old Town Pasadena, one of the first places I ate regularly was A'Float Sushi, on account of their great selection of vegetarian sushi options. There's meat too, for the omnivores and "beady-eyed vegetarians," but I can't vouch for its quality. Also, the sushi comes on boats that circle the chefs in a moat, which is always fun.

When I discovered King Taco (#21), a new world was opened to me. King Taco was started in Cypress Park and is now a local chain - my favorite Mexican chain to this day. It was at the King Taco in Pasadena that I first heard Mikel Erentxun's Spanish language cover of either The Smiths' "Esta luz nunca se apagará" or a solo Morrissey's "Todo es igual siempre." In a weird poetic arc, years later when LATV aired the last episode of Los Ilegales, they played a countdown of the top Rock en Españolvideos of all time, broadcasting from the East Los location (#2) of King Taco and proclaiming Morrissey's English-language original "Everyday is like Sunday" the number one exemplar of the genre.

Other Pasadena joints I've enjoyed on several occasions include the wild, Armenian smorgasbord, Burger Continental; the delicious, if decadent, Gourmet Cobbler Factory; the Himalayan Cafe holds many culinary and personal memories, as does New Dehli Palace Cuisine of India. And finally, I have to give love to Orean the Health Express, the country's first and oldest Vegetarian fast food take-out joint, which appeals more to vegetarians motivated by ethics and environmentalism rather than health... like me!

Other eateries include: Alberto's Mexican FoodAKA - American BistroAll India Cafe, Amigo's RestaurantAndrea's Petting Zoo and BakeryArroyo Chop HouseArturo's Taco TruckAux DelicesAvanti CafeAzeen's Afghani RestaurantB-Man's Teriyaki & Burgers, Bar Celona, BC's Donuts, Barney's Limited, Beany's Cafe, Beckham Grill Restaurant, Beyond the Olive, Big City Hot Dogs, Big Mama's & Papa's Pizzeria, Bistro 45, Bobby's Place, Bonnie B's Smokin,

Brothers Pies N' Fries, Bua Na Thai Cuisine, Burrito Express, CHAM Korean Bistro, Cafe Cordova, Café Linda's, Café Santorini, Cafe Verde, Carmela Ice Cream, Celestino, Cherry on Top, Cheval Blanc, Chinese Cafe, Chinese Gourmet Breakfast, Corner Bakery Cafe, Crepe Studio, Culture 22, Cypress Best Burgers, D'odici Desserts, Daisy Mint, Dena Burgers, Dia de los Tacos, Dog Haus, Domenico's Italian Restaurant
, Dream Dinners Pasadena1810 Argentinean Restaurant, Einstein Bros Bagel,

El Chavo Taco Stop, El Metate, El Pollo Unico, El Portal Restaurant, El Taquito Mexicano Truck, El Toreo, Elements Kitchen, Ernie's Al Fresco, Euro Pane Bakery, Father Nature's Lavash Wraps, 54 Holly, Fortune Chinese Cuisine, Garni Meat Market, Gerlach's Grill, Gladstone Donut House, Go Go Sushi, Grand Chicken, Grandview Palace No 2, Green Earth Vegan Cuisine, Green Street Restaurant, Green Street Taqueria, Gyu-Kaku, Haiku Kitchen, Heidar Baba, Hey That's Amore,

Honeybaked Ham Co, House of Basturma, Houston's, Hungtington Memorial Hospital Cafeteria
Huntington Catering CompanyIchima, In-N-Out Burger, Indochine, Istanbul Catering, Jake's of Pasadena, Japon Bistro, KindKreme, King's Row Gastropub, Kingston Cafe, La Caravana Restaurante Salvadoreno, La Estrella, La Grande Orange Cafe, La Luce Cafe & Deli, Le Pain Quotidien, Lee's Hoagie House, Lemonade, 'Lette Macarons, Little Britain, Los Primos,

Louisiana Fried Chicken & Donuts, Lovebirds Cafe & Bakery, Luciano's Ristorante
, Lucky Boy Drive-InMa Jasmin's, Maison Akira, Mako Bowl, Malbec, Maria's Italian Kitchen, Matsuri, Mediterranean Cafe, Mezbaan Indian Cuisine, Mi Casa Mexican Food, Mignon Chocolate, Mijares Mexican Restaurant, Mr Goods Donuts Shop, My Vegan, New York Deli, Nine & Nine Thai Kitchen, Noda Sushi, n2 Catering, Numero Uno Pizza Pasta & More, O2 Sushi, Oba Sushi Izakaya, Panda Inn Restaurant,

Panos Bakery, PappaRich, Parkway Grill, Pasadena Fish Market, Pasadena Sandwich Company, Picante, Piccomolo Italian Ice Cream, Pita Jungle, Polkatots Cupcakes, Pollos Puebla #1, POP Champagne and Dessert Bar, Porta Via Italian Foods, Porto Alegre Churrascaria, Poster's Donuts, Pronto Donuts, Puebla Tacos No 3
, Pulley's, Quadrupel Brasserie, Qzilla BBQ, Rasta Taco, Roma Italian Deli and Grocery, Root Beer Joe's Sandwich Shop, Rosarito Mexican Food,

Rotisserie Chicken of California, Roy's Restaurant, Royal Donuts, Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill, Russell's, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Sachi Sushi Restaurant, Sahara Middle Eastern Cuisine, Saigon Noodle Restaurant, Saladish, Sandwiches by Connal's, Sanwich Story, Sausalito Mexican Restaurant, See's Candies, Settebello Pizzeria Napoletano, Sharky's Wood Fired Mexican Grill, Shogun Restaurant, Smitty's Grill, Soumarelo, Stonefire Grill, Sugar Fix, Super Burger,

Suriya Thai Restaurant, Sushi Ichi, Sushi Kimagure
, Sweet Art Cupcake, Tacos El Gallito, Tacos La Doña, Takes the Cake, Tastees Donut & Burger, Technique Restaurant, Tender Greens, Tenno Sushi and Seafood Grill, The Athenaeum, The Burger Shack, The Cheese Store of Pasadena, The Counter, The Habit Burger Grill, The Hat, The Kitchen For Exploring Foods, The Luggage Room Pizzeria, The Market on Holly, The Old Sasoon Bakery, The Original Tops, The Raymond Restaurant, The Royce,

The Slaw Dogs, The Vol 94, The White Hut, Three Dog Bakery, Tommy's Original World Famous Hamburgers, Tonny's Restaurant, Top Restaurant, Tortas 2 Die 4, Tortas Mexico, Tre Venezie Trattoria, 21 Choices
Tutti Gelati, Vero's Restaurant, Viktor Benes Bakery Pasadena, Vince's Deli, Violet's Cakes, Vrej Pastry, Wahoo's Fish Taco, Wok Master, Wokcano, Wonder Burgers, Yahaira's Cafe, Yard House, Yujean Kang's and Zankou Chicken. 


Old Town Pasadena

Pasadena is a city comprised of many neighborhoods: Allendale, Annandale, Arroyo Terrace, Arroyo del Mar, Banbury Oaks, Bellefontaine, Brigden Ranch, Brookside Park, Bungalow Heaven, California Village, Casa Grande, Catalina Villas, Chapman Woods, Civic Center, Daisy Villa, Devil's Gate, East Washington Village, Eaton Canyon, Garfield Heights, Governor Markham, Hastings Ranch, Historic Highlands, Jefferson Park, La Pintoresca, Lamanda Park, Lexington Heights, Lincoln-Villa, Linda Vista, Lower Arroyo, Madison Heights, Marceline, Monk Hill, Muir Heights, Normandie Heights, Oak Knoll, Old Town, Olive Heights, Orange Heights, Playhouse District, Prospect Park, Raymond Hill, San Rafael Hills, Sierra Madre Villa, South Lake, The Oaks, Victory Park, Villa Parke, and Washington Square. If you'd like to vote for any specific neighborhoods, therefore allowing me to get more in depth, vote for them in the LA County Communities poll.

Although Pasadena is sometimes mis-characterized as a sleepy, white suburb, the population of is actually highly diverse -- 39% white (mostly English), 33% Latino (mostly Mexican), 14% black, and 10% Asian (mostly Filipino).


The area that now makes up Pasadena was for roughly 8,000 years home to the the Hahamog'na branch of the Tongva. A Tongva fool trail, now known as Gabrielino Trail, ran from the present day location of the Rosebowl up along the Arroyo Seco, past NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory into the San Gabriel Mountains. In 1770, the Spanish invaded Tovangar and established the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel in the San Gabriel Valley's Whittier Narrows (later it was moved to San Gabriel). That year a Spanish expedition led by Gaspar de Portolà passed through the area. This led the way for a Spanish conquest of the aboriginal population. Their leader, Hahamog'na, for whom the tribe was named, changed his name to Pascual upon his conversion to Christianity.

In 1832, California became part of Mexico. In 1833 the ranchos were secularized. In 1834, a land grant named Rancho del Rincon de San Pascual (so named because it was deeded on Easter Sunday) was given to Eulalia Perez de Guillén Mariné of Mission San Gabriel Arcángel and her spouse Juan Mariné by the Mexican governor José Figueroa.

Early American Pasadena

                                    Don Manuel Garfias                                                           Benjamin "Don Benito" Wilson

In 1848, California became part of the USA, following the conclusion of the Mexican-American War. In 1852, California was granted statehood. 1859 The rancho's last Mexican owner, Manuel Garfias, sold the land to John Griffin and Benjamin "Don Benito" Wilson, who established Lake Vineyard for muscat production. Benjamin Eaton, who worked for Griffin and Wilson, had first brought water from Arroyo Seco and Eaton Canyon in the 1860s to his vineyard, a development that made the growth of Altadena, Pasadena and South Pasadena (aka the Figueroas) possible. The group hoped it would help them develop and sell what they called San Pasqual Plantation, but by 1870, they gave up.

In 1872, a sickly doctor named Thomas Elliot sent an exploratory group west, led by Daniel M. Berry, in search of a warmer climate in which to establish a farm. In what's now Pasadena they established the Indiana Colony between Fair Oaks Avenue and the Arroyo Seco across from Lake Vineyard. A year later the Indiana Colony -- founded by settlers from Indiana, Iowa and Michigan -- of California formed to purchase approximately 4,000 acres from Wilson, Griffin and Eaton.

Mail for the Indiana Colony was addressed "Indiana Colony via Los Angeles," which was too much of a pain. Potential alternate names bandied about included Buena Vista, Hesperia, Indianola, Muscat, New Granada, and Orange Grove, among others. Finally, "Pasadena" was settled upon, an Ojibwe term which means "of the valley." In 1875, the residents of the colony included forty houses and a grove of 10,000 newly-planted citrus trees. In 1876, the Southern Pacific Railway arrived in neighboring Los Angeles and a real estate boom followed.

Pasadena, 1886

In 1880, the population of Pasadena was only 391. In 1885, the Southern Pacific reached Pasadena and the city was incorporated the following year with a much larger population of 2,700. Although the economy was fueled primarily by wine and brandy grapes (and walnuts and olives); the pressure of the temperance movement resulted in the ban of liquor in February 1887.

That year the Sunny Slope Winery was sold and the Altadena subdivision was launched -- although Pasadena would continue to annex portions of that city until 1956. To avoid annexation, South Pasadena incorporated in 1888. To this day, only neighboring East Pasadena remains unincorporated which is why Pasadena grows easterly. For the remainder of the 19th century, Pasadena was primarily a draw for vacationing Easterners and Middle Westerners -- especially consumptives and asthmatics. To serve them, the Los Angeles House Hotel opened in 1883. The first proper resort hotel in the area was the Raymond Hotel, which opened in 1886 atop Bacon Hill (later renamed Raymond Hill) in South Pasadena.

Tournament of Roses

Tournament of Roses Parade - 1893

In 1890, the first Tournament of Roses Parade was organized by The Valley Hunt Club, patterned after a European festival of roses and meant to showcase Pasadena's beauty and climate at a time that much of the US is in the throes of bleakest winter. In 1895, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association took over from the original organizers. A handegg game was added in 1902 to help fund the cost of the parade and was originally known as "Tournament East-West football game." As a kid, primarily motivated by a predilection for underdogs, I always watched the Cotton Bowl Parade instead.


CalTech campus at twilight

The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) was founded in 1891 by Amos G. Throop as Throop University. It acquired its current name in 1920. 31 Caltech alumni and faculty have won the Nobel Prize and 66 have won the National Medal of Science or Technology.

39% of the student body is comprised of Asian-Americans and 35% white. The CBS sitcom Big Bang Theory is set at Caltech. Interestingly (but sadly not surprisingly as whitewashing is one of Hollywood's chief strengths) only one of the principle actors (Kunal Nayyar) on the show is Asian-American and the remaining (88%) are white.

One of Caltech's most famous graduates is Taiwanese-American astrophysicist Tyson Mao. The speedcuber (as competitive Rubik's Cube solvers refer to one another) co-founded the World Cube Association and in 2006 set the world record for the 3x3x3… blindfolded. That same year he appeared as a participant on CW's Beauty and the Geek. He's also appeared on Anderson Cooper 360, Good Morning America, Show Us Your Character, The Tonight Show, TWINS and Taiwan's 綜藝大哥大.

For urban spelunkers and fellow explorers, the fact that most buildings on the Caltech campus are connected by a network of steam tunnels, pipes, &c is titillating and the art found in them is testament to their popularity and the spirit of those who explore them. My friend (and Kayo Dot violinist) Mia Matsumiya -- who is famously small and thus able to squeeze into spaces that the rest of us can't -- explored the system and detailed her adventure (see here). 

California Cycleway

Pasadena resident Horace Dobbins started the the Cycle-way Company. In 1897, construction of an elevated, fourteen kilometer, wooden bike trail opened connecting Pasadena to Downtown Los Angeles was granted. Construction began in 1899. The stations were in the Moorish style where bikes could be repaired. The cycleway opened in 1900. Completion was never completed, however, and the 2 km cycleway only reached from near Hotel Green to the Raymond Hotel.

The early Pasadena hotel scene

Pasadena's Hotel Row in the 1930s

In the early 1900s, numerous Christian houses of worship popped up along Marengo Avenue, which resulted in its being regarded as an Avenue of Churches. Meanwhile, Colorado was quickly established as a hotel district. The Maryland Hotel was destroyed by a fire in 1914 and redesigned by Myron Hunt and rebuilt. Most of it was demolished in 1934 but the remaining residential tower of the Maryland has been a co-op since 1953. There was also the Constance Hotel, the Marengo Hotel and the Vista del Arroyo. Today, however, the best known is Castle Green.

Castle Green

Pasadena's Hotel Green

The Frederick Roehrig-designed Green Hotel began construction in 1887 and was completed in 1903, named after George Gill Green. He later added two more buildings to the structure -- Castle Green was the second building and was originally known as the Central Annex. In 1924, the Central Annex was subdivided into fifty apartments and renamed Castle Green. In the 1920s, one of the buildings caught fire after a guest fell asleep with a lit cigar in the smoking parlor.

It was afterward abandoned instead of repaired and sat empty until 1935, when it was further damaged by the Long Beach Earthquake and subsequently demolished completely. The surviving Castle Green is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the State Historic Register. It's been used in numerous films, commercials and TV series, including Buffy the vampire slayerThe last samurai, Deja vuWe were soldiersLittle rascalsThe stingThe time machineBobbyMurder, she wroteDallasWild at heartSneakers, BugsyThe man with two brainsSistersPuppetmasterMiracle on 34th Street and more. 

The Langham Huntington, Pasadena

The Hotel Wentworth was built by American Civil War veteran General Wentworth in 1906. It was designed by Charles Frederick Whittlesey in Spanish Mission Revival-style. After its 1911 purchase by Henry E. Huntington in 1911 it reopened in 1914 as The Huntington Hotel. In 1954 it changed to the Huntington Sheraton. When it failed to live up to new earthquake codes, it was closed. In 1988 it was demolished. It was rebuilt, incorporating its two ballrooms, in 1991 - using many of the original features. After a stint as a Ritz-Carlon, in 2007 it became the Langham Huntington, Pasadena.

Millionaire's Row

A modest Pasadena shelter on Millionaire's Row

In 1900, Pasadena's population was 9,117. In, 1901 Henry E. Huntington established the Pacific Electric Railway. Orange Grove quickly became the most desirable address for monied toffs and with 52 massive mansions lining it by 1902, it quickly came to be nicknamed "Millionaire's Row." Notable residents included Adolphus Busch, Aleister Crowley, David and Mary Gamble, L. Ron Hubbard, and William Wrigley Jr.

Behind Orange Grove lies Grand Avenue, another street lined with historic estates that were at various times home to Jared Torrance (founder of the city of Torrance), JB Van Nuys (founder of the city of Van Nuys), the Cox family (of Cox Communications) the Maxwell family (of Maxwell House), the Spaulding family (of the sporting goods company) and Howard Huntington, of the Huntington family.

On the day of our visit we stumbled across the Millard House, nicknamed La Minatura. Built in 1923, it was the first of Frank Lloyd Wright's four textile block houses, done in the Mayan Revival style.

Busch Gardens

German-born Missourian beer baron Adolphus Busch built the first Busch Gardens in Pasadena in 1905. When he died in 1913, his wife offered the park to Pasadena. The city passed and the gardens later appeared in films including The adventures of Beau geste, Robin Hood, The Canterville ghost, Carefree, Citizen Kane, Daddy-Long-Legs, Doctor Dolittle, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, Duck soup, Frankenstein, Gone with the wind, It happened one night, Jack and the beanstalk, King of the jungle, Night and day, The silver lining, Son of Fury - The story of Benjamin Blake, The son of Tarzan, Stella Maris, Take a letter, darling, They died with their boots on, The three musketeers, and Watch on the Rhine. It closed in 1937.

Greene & Greene

1902-1913 was the major period of work by Greene & Greene, an architectural firm established by Ohioan brothers Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene. Their bungalow houses and "ultimate bungalows" are prime examples of Arts and Crafts architecture.

Robert R. Blacker House

Often referred to as the Blacker House, the Robert R. Blacker House was built in 1907 for Robert Roe Blacker (a retired Michigan lumberman) and his wife, Nellie Canfield. In the 1985 movie Back to the future, interior shots of Doc Brown's house were taken inside the home.

Also in 1985, Barton English and Michael Carey purchased the home. In what came to be known as "The rape of the Blacker House," English removed and sold many of the original fixtures and replaced them with cheaper replicas. As a result, Pasadena enacted an emergency ordinance in an attempt to limit the ability of Greene and Greene owners to dismantle or otherwise destroy artifacts tin their homes. known as the Blacker Ordinance, which attempted to limit the ability of people owning homes designed by Greene and Greene to dismantle or otherwise destroy artifacts therein.

Pasadena Motorcycle Club

The Pasadena Motorcycle Club formed in 1907, making it the third oldest motorcycle club in the US, just behind New York City's Yonkers Motorcycle Club (established in 1903) and the San Francisco Motorcycle Club (established in 1904).

Gamble House 

The Gamble House was built in 1908 as a winter residence for David B. Gamble of the Procter & Gamble company. It remained in the Gamble family until 1966, when it was deeded to the city of Pasadena in a joint agreement with the USC School of Architecture. Today, two 5th year USC architecture students live in the house -- the selected students change yearly. It's exterior served as Doc Brown's house in Back to the future.

Colorado Street Bridge

In 1913, the Colorado Street Bridge opened, designed and built by Kansas City, Missouri firm J.A.L. Waddell. At first it was nicknamed the Arroyo Seco Bridge, after the river it spans, but it soon became better known as the Suicide Bridge after numerous people used it to jump to their deaths. It's been featured in several films including Alias, Seabiscuit and Sky High.

Pasadena Playhouse & Pasadena Theater

Pasadena's theater history began in 1888, with the opening of the Williams Hall Parlor Theatre. It was housed in a building that also contained Pasadena's first post office and first telephone. It has since been demolished. In 1911, the Clune Theater opened, showing vaudeville and film. It later became the Fox Pasadena Theater.

In 1916, actor/director Gilmor Brown took over a burlesque theater for his acting troupe, The Savoy Players. In 1917 he established the Community Playhouse Association of Pasadena, which evolved into the Pasadena Playhouse Association. In 1924, Pasadena's citizens raised sufficient funds to build a new Spanish Colonial Revival style theater designed by Elmer Grey. It was completed in 1925. He later began the Midsummer Drama Festivals at the Playhouse and the One-Act Play Tournament. The popularity of theater in Pasadena led none other than Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw to dub Pasadena "the Athens of the West." In 1969, after the death of Gilmor Brown in Palm Springs, the theater went bankrupt. After being shuttered for 17 years, it re-opened in 1986. In 2010, the theater once again filed for bankruptcy protection and cancelled its remaining season. It re-emerged from bankruptcy four months later. If you'd like to become more aware of and engaged in the rich local theater scene, please click here to join the Facebook group, Southland Theater!

Other significant theaters and theater companies include Jensen's Raymond Theatre opened in 1921 with a vaudeville performance, the Boston Court Performing Arts Center, the Ice House, the Furious Theatre Company (established 2002), and in 2011, A Noise Within relocated to Pasadena.

The Rose Bowl

In 1923, on the site of a former dump, the Myron Hunt-designed Rose Bowl opened, replacing Tournament Park as the location of the Tournament of Roses American Football game. It's also seen its share of historic music and sports performances. In 1988, Depeche Mode played their final show on the Music for the masses tour to a crowd of 60,453 people. It was filmed and resulted in the DA Pennebaker-directed documentary, 101. In 1996, the US played against Mexico (followed by LA Galaxy vs. Tampa Bay Mutiny) in a football game that attracted 92,216 spectators. In 2009, U2 played the first ever capacity crowd, 97,014, in the stadiums history in support of their album, No line on the horizon ad as part of their 360° tour. It also hosts a weekly flea market.

Civic Center

In 1927, Pasadena's Civic Center opened, including a beautiful library and a city hall designed by John Bakewell & Arthur Brown, who incorporated influences of early Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio.

The beautiful library outside and in

Behind it, two large bronze portrait sculptures of brothers Jackie and Mack Robinson who, along with their mother, moved to Pasadena in 1920.


During World War II, Southern California turned into a major staging ground. Factories sprang up, especially in South LA and the Harbor. Pasadena attracted the higher end of manufacturing and scientific companies, most notably NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Segregation finally ended in 1948 and by 1950 Pasadena was, along with Bronzeville, South Central, Watts and parts of Midtown, one of the few areas with black majority neighborhoods. (However, the Pasadena Unified School District wasn't desegregated until 1969!) A steady influx of southern blacks, especially from Louisiana and Texas, made their new homes in Pasadena in the decade that followed.

One was James King Jr., a physical chemist who, after graduating from Morehouse in Atlanta, made his new home in Pasadena. There he spent five years at CalTech where he received an MS. Upon entering the private sector he first worked for Atomics International before attempting to develop a solar-powered car and subsequently working for decades at NASA JPL.

The Parrots of Pasadena

Pasadena and San Marino are home to a large number of naturalized parrots. They're theorized to have been released during a 1959 fire that destroyed Simpson's Garden-Town. According to Parrot Project of Los Angeles, there are as many as five different types of parrots, including the Red-Crowned Amazon Parrot.

The Doo Dah Parade

Declining property values attracted artists and bohemians and in 1976, the Doo Dah Parade was launched. The much-loved, zany answer to the classy Rose Parade offered a lighthearted change of pace during Pasadena's nadir and has occurred annually every May 1st.

Gangs of Pasadena

Pasadena began to experience a gang problem in the 1970s. Many Pasadenans moved to areas like the Inland Empire and parts of downtown were left abandoned. Crime soared and developers sought to destroy much of Old Town, catalyzing and invigorating Pasadena's preservation movement.

In the 1980s, Pasadena's crime problem continued. During that decade, Elrader "Ray Ray" Browning Jr ran his cocaine and heroin empire from Pasadena. In a 12 year period, prosecutors allege the kingpin ordered the murders of 60 to 70 people. He was arrested in 1987 and in '88 he was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.

The vacuum left after Browning's removal from the streets was filled by more gangs. The most famous episode of gang violence in the era took place in 1993, when three teenagers were murdered by Crips on Halloween. A memorial that reads "In memory of Stephen Coates and Reginald Crawford  November 18, 1993  John Muir Student Congress” was placed in honor of the victims.

Pasadena is still marked by the presence of gangs including North Side Pasadena, Pasadena Denver Lanes, Pasadena Latin Kings, South Side Pasadena and Varrio Pasadena Rifa but crime rate has fallen dramatically since the bad old days and is currently below the national median.


Pasadena is one of Los Angeles County's major art centers. In the early 20th century, Pasadena was home to the Arts and Craft Movement's Alson S. Clark, Ernest A. Batchelder, Guy Rose and Marion Wachtel. In 1909, the California Art Club was founded (and exists to this day). The Pasadena Society of Artists was founded in 1925.

The city is also renowned for its Arts Center, the Armory Center for the Arts, the Bunny Museum, art galleries (San Marino Gallery, Williamson Gallery, the Gold Bug, and Zephyr), and large number of public art pieces. Twice a year, Pasadenan cultural institutes participate in the free ArtNight Pasadena. Since its inception, it's also led to the development of PasadenART Weekend, a three-day event that includes ArtHeritage, ArtMarket, ArtNight, ArtWalk, and ArtPerformance. There's also the Pasadena Chalk Festival and Museums of the Arroyo Day.

Art Center

Art Center opened in 1930, founded by Tink Adams, who also served as the private college's director. It was originally located in Downtown Los Angeles. In 1947 it moved to Midtown's Hancock Park neighborhood. In 1965 it changed its name to Art Center College of Design although it is still usually referred to as Art Center. It moved to its current location in Pasadena in 1976.

Public Art

In the 1980s, the Public Art Program was launched, requiring the 1% of the building valuation of both new private development and municipal construction projects in the city is dedicated to public art.

 CalTech's Throop Memorial Garden  

        CalTech's Water Forms

Important public art collections exist at Art Center, CalTech and Pasadena City College. The city of Pasadena also offers public art walking tours.

Museums of Pasadena

Pasadena's best known museum is the Norton Simon. It was previously known as "The Pasadena Art Institute" and "The Pasadena Art Museum" and was established in 1969 Its collection includes Asian and European paintings and sculpture, as well as tapestries and woodblock prints. Surrounding it in the nicely landscaped grounds are more sculptures. In 1974, art collector Norton Simon absorbed the Pasadena Art Museum's debts and maintenance and in turn it was renamed in his honor. Simon died in 1993.

Other significant museums in Pasadena include The Pasadena Museum of History (established in 1924), Pacific Asian Museum (founded in 1971), the Kidspace Children’s Museum (established in 1979), and the Pasadena Museum of California Art (founded in 2002).


Although the Clune Theater, which opened in 1911, showed films alongside other forms of entertainment, Warner's Photoplay Theater, which opened in 1914, was the first Pasadena theater dedicated to the exhibition of photoplays… or films as most people refer to them these days.

Academy 6

The Academy 6 was originally a single screen theater known as The Egyptian, (not to be confused with Warner's Egyptian). By 1942 it was known as The Colorado and was sold to Fox and it became known as The Academy Theater. In the 1980s it was multiplexed and today it shows primarily second-run films at a discount price and boasts a nice selection of flavored popcorn seasonings. The downside? It's not exactly state-of-the-art and you need to make sure that there isn't some obstruction blocking your view. Also, it's pretty grimy so if you're put off by schmutz and stains, you might want to skip it or arrive after the lights have dimmed.

Laemmle's Playhouse Seven

The Laemmle's chain is LA County's premiere (only?) arthouse chain, with locations in Beverly Hills, Claremont, Encino, Lancaster, Santa Monica, Sawtelle and West Hills. The company began in 1938 when Max and Kurt Laemmle (cousins of Universal Pictures-founder Carl Laemmle) purchased their first theater in Highland Park. Today it's owned and operated by Max's son, Robert Laemmle, and his son, Greg Laemmle. The Pasadena location opened in 2000. It's also where I first saw Sisu play against a backdrop of Miyazaki clips.

Filming Locations

In addition to the aforementioned films and TV series filmed or set in Pasadena, there are over 1,000 more. The majestic Bundy House, built in 1914, served as the Mulray home in Chinatown and the governor's mansion on TV's Benson. The American Red Cross building served as JAG headquarters on that show of the same name. Arden Villa was featured on The A-Team, Dynasty, and Knightrider. The Walker House was seen on Brothers & sisters. In the film 2012, Pasadena was said to be the residence of Jackson Curtis and it was also, along with Glendale, the setting of Mildred Pierce.

Other films and series filmed in part or in whole in Pasadena include Arrested development, A warrior's heart, Blow, Bones, Bruce Almighty, CSI, CSI - Miami, Catch me if you can, Charmed, Crazy, stupid, love, Date night, Desperate housewives, Dexter, Dinner for schmucks, Enemy of the state, Fast & furious, Faster, Girl next door, Glee, Gone with the wind, Inception, Iron Man 2, Justified, Kill Bill, Knight and Day, Knocked up, Live free or die hard, Mad men, Matilda, NCIS, NCIS-Los Angeles, Old school, Parks and recreation, Pulp fiction, Scary movie, Seven pounds, Spider-Man 3, Stand by me, The 40 year old virgin, The Big Lebowski, The Closer, The Green Hornet, The Italian job, The Lincoln lawyer, The Muppets, The OC, The Terminator, The X-Files, The artist, The mentalist, The office, The prestige, The social network, Transformers, True blood, We bought a zoo, Wedding crashers, You again and way too many titles to mention any more! 

Pasadenan Actors


Pasadena is also the birthplace of  actors like Alison Brie, Christian Serratos, Dana MacDuff, Harry Hamlin, Jaleel White, James Deen, and Sally Field as well as TV chef, Julia Child.


Pasadena Media, created in 2007, is a non-profit organization governed by Pasadena Community Access Corporation (which was established in 1983). The organization currently oversees four television channels: The Arroyo Channel (Channel 32), KPAS (Channel 3), KLRN (Channel 95) and PCC TV (Channel 96) as well as a community media access center. Original programming includes Crown City News, Daheli LIVE, and Good Day Pasadena. From 1988-1998, Pasadena-raised/Chicago-born activist Michael Zinzun hosted and co-produced, with fellow activist and artist Nancy Buchanan, the fondly-remembered program, Message To The Grassroots.


Pasadena music events  and organizations

The Pasadena Symphony formed in 1928. The Los Angeles Music Academy College of Music opened in 1996. Boston Court Performing Arts Center presents concerts throughout the year, known as Music at the Court. Friends of the Levitt has offered free summer concerts in Memorial Park since 2002. The Arcadia-based California Philharmonic (CalPhil) performs two series in Pasadena, Cal Phil at the Ambassador Auditorium and Cal Phil Music Martinis & the Maestro in the Romanesque Room at Castle Green.

Bands and performers of Pasadena

Bands and performers from Pasadena include Dan Barrett, Jeff Deyo, Jerry Dixon, Kim Carnes, Poxy Boggards, Primordial Undermind, Red Delicious, Smegma, and most famously, Van Halen. In 2007, Pasadena band Ozma released an album called Pasadena.

Mom & Pop record stores

As far as I know, there are just two independent record stores left in Pasadena. There's the aforementioned Poo-Bah and Canterbury Records. I guess there's still a Penny Lane but when I used to work as a manager at that chain, they'd pretty much given up on music and were focussed on renting porn and selling postcards. Canterbury also sells a lot of DVDs but I used to go there for the cheap vinyl, usually after shopping at Target or eating Indian nearby.



In 1967, during the Golden Age of FM Radio, Tom and Raechel Donahue introduced the freeform format demo the basement of Pasadena Presbyterian Church, broadcasting as KPPC at 106.7. Early on air talent included David Lander, Dr. Demento, Harry Shearer and Michael McKean. They established the station as LA's premier underground station. In 1971 the entire staff was fired and in 1976 the station changed owners and reemerged as KROQ, which before long became one of, if not the, most influential station in the US. After it was purchased by new owners in 1986, it relocated to Burbank and later Los Angeles, where, in 1997, it lost the remainder of its edge when it became part of CBS.


Broadcasting from Pasadena City College (aka PCC - nicknamed "Pretty Close to College"), KPCC broadcasts at 89.3. In addition to carrying American public radio programs produced by APM, NPR, PRIit produces its own programs, including FilmWeekThe Madeleine Brand Show, AirTalk with Larry Mantle, Patt Morrison, Off-Ramp with John RabeThe Loh Down on Science, and others.


Pasadena is a fairly green city with many thousands of trees and numerous parks, including Allendale Park, Arroyo Seco Park, Brenner Park, Brookside Park and Golf Course, Central Park, Eaton Blanche Park, Eaton Canyon Park, Grant Park, Green Park, Hahamongna Watershed Park, Jefferson Recreation Center, La Pintoresca Park, McDonald Park, Pasadena Memorial Park (formerly Library Park), Robinson Park, San Rafael Park, Singer Park, Tournament Park, Victory Park, Villa Parke Community Center, and Vina Vieja Park.


For the thirsty, there are a lot of places in Pasadena to get a drink. I once went to the 35er out of curiosity. If millions of TVs blaring various sports in your face with a bunch of dudes is your idea of fun, then definitely check it out. Another time I went undercover as a frat boy to Old Towne Pub as a fascinating social experiment. There's Lucky Baldwin's, which appeals to Brit-tards and fans of good beer (but not food), although they seem to always be out of the first four varieties ordered on any given day. Out on the east side of Pasadena, I've been to the Colorado Bar numerous times, a pleasant and actual dive bar (and not some theme dive bar). The slightly more upscale Magnolia Lounge, on South Lake, is pretty nice too. On the day of our visit, we watched the sunset and enjoyed a few drinks at the Tap Room in the Langham.

Interestingly, there are seemingly (I don't feel like counting) more tea houses and coffee bars than bars it seems. Drinking spots include Andy's Coffee Shop, Bird Pick Tea & Herb, Bliss Cafe and Lounge, Boba World, Bodega Wine Bar, Cafe Alibi, Cafe Culture, Chado Tea Room, Coffee Cantata, Coffee by the Books, Congregation Ale House, Dog Haus Biergarten, Dullahan's, Eden Garden Bar & Grill, 1886, Gotta Java, Green Street Tavern, Half and Half Tea Express, Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea, Jameson Brown Coffe Roasters, Jones Coffee Roasters, Juice it Up!, Le Petit Vendome, MOKA Cafe, Maui Wowi Hawaiian Coffee and Smoothies, Monopole Wine, Niko and Friends Cafe, Peet's Coffee & Tea, redwhite+bluezz, Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop, Rose Tree Cottage, Roxolana Restaurant & Wine Bar, Scarlet Tea Room & Fine Dining, Spitfire Saloon, T. Boyles Tavern, Tea Rose Garden, Tea Spots, The Boulevard, The Coffe Bean & Tea Leaf, The Coffee Barrel, The Crepevine Bistro & Wine Bar, The Nose Wine Bar, Tiffany's Coffee, Vertical Wine Bistro, and Zona Rosa Caffe.


Pasadena though a vibrant city, especially during the day, seems pretty sleepy at night. That being said, I've never set foot in any of nor attended the following: Club Menage, Esquire Bar & Lounge, Jake's Diner & Billiard Club, LIV Lounge, Lindy Groove, Lounge 54, The Granada LA, and Third Saturday Swing.

So, in conclusion, Pasadena is great and I will defend it against those who slag it but thank the lord I'm finally done with this entry. Until next time! Excelsior! 


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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring San Gabriel, A City with a Mission

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 10, 2011 09:00am | Post a Comment


For this blog entry, I ventured to the city of San Gabriel. Accompanying me were veteran three traveling companions. Cheryl Anne, a designer, hadn't appeared since her Season 4, episode 10 debut, "Gardena - The South Bay's city of opportunity." Artist Chris Urias made his debut appearance and regular audiences are well acquainted with Club Underground's DJ Modernbrit, aka Tim Shimbles, who has appeared in numerous episodes, debuting back in Season 2, episode 4, "Morningside Circle" in which we first discovered South LA's Westside.

To vote for other Los Angeles County communities to be covered on the blog, vote here. To vote forLos Angeles neighborhoods, vote here. To vote vote for Orange County neighborhoods and communities, vote here.

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Huntington Beach

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 9, 2011 08:00pm | Post a Comment

This blog entry is about Huntington Beach, a beach city in North Orange County. To Huntington Beach's southwestern edge is the Pacific Ocean. To its north are Seal Beach and Westminster. To the east is Fountain Valley. North and east is the Little Saigon area. To the southeast are the towns of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.
     Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Huntington Beach

It's the largest beach city in Orange County. Accompanying me on this installment was a mysterious new traveling companion and HB resident known only as Bao. As is usual, we being with a bit of history.


The area that now constitutes Huntington Beach was for thousands of years a border territory shared by the seafaring Tongva people to the north and the smaller Acagchemem nation to the south. At the time the area was an isolated mesa surrounded by a soggy expanse of bogs and shallow marshes fed by estuaries and artesian wells. At the western foot of the bluff was a large tidal lagoon.


After the Spanish Conquest, European settlement in the area began in 1784, when veteran Spanish soldier Manuel Nieto was granted the large 1,200 km2 Rancho Los Nietos. The main route through the ranch was a cattle trail that's now Beach Boulevard. After Mexico achieved independence from Spain in 1822, the ranchos were secularized and subdivided, including into Rancho Los Alamitos and Rancho Las Bolsas where Huntington Beach now is.. American immigrants began arriving. Two years after the US declared war against Mexico (in 1846), ownership of California was transferred and more Americans arrived in the area.


A trader named Able Sterns acquired Rancho Los Alamitos and then the Rancho Las Bolsas. In 1862 Sterns sold the ranchos to The Los Angeles and San Bernardino Land Company, an agency for which Sterns acted as realtor. The large ranches were then subdivided and sold in smaller parcels and sold to farmers. In 1894, Colonel Robert J. Northam (then-manager of the Stearns Ranchos Company) acquired seven parcels. Much of the area was drained and seeded with barley, alfalfa and later, celery. A small succession of communities arose in the area of modern-day Huntington Beach including Shell Beach, Smeltzer, Gospel Swamp (a tent city community of Methodists pilgrims from Long Beach), Fairview and Pacific City.

Pacific City pier scene in the 1980s

Pacific City was envisioned as a west coast rival to New Jersey's Atlantic City by Philip A. Stanton and Colonel H. S. Finley who in 1901 formed The West Coast Land and Water Company through which they acquired 1,500 acres.

To give Pacific City some legitimacy, several structures were moved there from nearby Newport Beach. Stanton sold his interest the following year to a group headed by J. V. Vickers. Vickers wooed railway owner Henry E. Huntington with enticements in exchange for an extension of the Long Beach line to Pacific City. Perhaps chief among the inducements was the proposed change of name from Pacific City to Huntington Beach. Huntington changed the name of his company from West Coast Land and Water Company to The Huntington Beach Company and agreed.


Huntington Beach was dedicated July 4, 1904 and the crowd of 50,000 witnessed the arrival of the first Pacific Red Car. The boom quickly died and by 1905, with the $126 purchase of an Encyclopedia Americana set, free parcels of land were given away. By then, celery and sugar beet cultivation dominated the economy. In 1906, the first school was built, Huntington Beach High School. The city of Huntington Beach was incorporated on February 17, 1909, under mayor Ed Manning.

Huntington Beach c. 1910


The original pier c. 1910

The original, wooden pier was destroyed in 1912. In 1914, the pier was replaced with a concrete one, primarily to support fishing. From 1910 to 1920 the small population of 815 more than doubled to 1,687. However, when Col. Northam dug a well to irrigate his alfalfa and struck oil in the Holly-Seacliff area, the economy of the sleepy seaside resort shifted focus.

Holly Sugar converted from processing beet sugar to oil refining. The Huntington Beach High School team changed their team name to The Oilers. The oil reserves were quickly depleted for the most part but numerous oil rigs still rhythmically bob (and there are several offshore rigs too). The last oil strike occurred in 1953. Growth came to an almost complete halt during the Great Depression.

In 1933, the Long Beach Earthquake struck - its epicenter was underneath Huntington Beach. 115 people were killed and $40 million worth of damage was done. In 1939, the Huntington Beach Pier was again destroyed and subsequently rebuilt. 

In the 1940s, growth in Huntington Beach resumed at a measured pace in the 1940s, with much of the city's land still devoted to oil production. The Huntington Beach Airport began operation in the mid-1940s, using as a runway a deposit of sediments left by the Flood of '38. It was still standing but had ceased operation by 1955. 
The East Long Beach Airport (later Sunset Beach Airport and finally Meadowlark Airport) was opened in 1947 by a nissei named Yukio "Dick" Nerio. It went public in the 1950s and continued operation until 1989. 
In 1957, Huntington Beach annexed a great deal of land between the original city and the proposed San Diego Freeway and the population growth reached a new peek during the decade.

In the 1960s the population increased almost tenfold, exploding from 11,492 to 115,960.


1970s serial killing creeps now rightfully rotting in prison

With most of the city by-then developed, population was slowed since the 1970s. During the decade, Huntington Beach (and nearby areas) were terrorized by a serial killer from Long Beach, Randy Steven Kraft, a pro-Vietnam War activist/Barry Goldwater-supporter and bartender at a Huntington Beach gay bar. In 1968 he joined the Air Force but was discharged the following year for being gay and he resumed bar tending. In 1970, Kraft gained the trust of a thirteen-year-old runaway he met on the Huntington Beach pier. After Kraft took him home, drugged and raped him, he went to work and the victim escaped. The victim led the cops to the apartment who found drugs and the victim's shoes… but since the search was conducted with a warrant, Kraft wasn't charged. In 1971, Kraft found work at a bottled water plant in HB. That year police found a decomposing body next to the freeway, believed to have been Kraft's first murder victim. For the next eleven years, dozens of men were murdered, mainly in North Orange County and The Harbor. After his arrest, police recovered a "death list" that claimed 67 victims, 22 of them not found. 

Huntington Beach was again rocked by violence when Rodney Alcala kidnapped and murdered a Huntington Beach twelve year old on her way to ballet class in 1979.


In the 1970s, Native activists began fighting for preservation of sites of historical importance, especially the Bolsa Chica Wetlands (near the dump site, coincidentally, of one Kraft's teenage victims). In the 2000s, the developers of the Brightwater Hearthside Homes subdivision began churning up bones and artifacts dating back up to 8,500 years. In 2006 the state approved continued reconstruction as long as the disturbed human remains were reinterred somewhere else. In 2008, the remains of 174 Tongva bodies uncovered by workers who've apparently never watched Poltergeist!

HB IN THE 1980s

OP Pro Riot

The 1980s seem to have ushered in even more lawless age in Hungtington Beach.  In 1980, half-sisters Gina Narano, 15, and Cynthia Chandler, 16, disappeared from Huntington Beach and were found the next day on the roadside, shot to death and raped by a former Navy admiral, Douglas Clark. The same year, an 18-year police veteran was jailed in HB after molesting numerous children. In 1981, Tommy Gomez was arrested on two counts for a gang rape of a Huntington Beach woman. In 1984, Elizabeth Hoffschneider was brutally raped, beaten and murdered in a case that took over two decades to solve. On Labor Day, in 1986, a massive disturbance happened downtown and near the pier which came to be known as the OP Pro Riot. In the late 1980s, there was a push from law enforcement and for redevelopment. The first obvious sign of a new age was the rebuilding of the pier in January, 1988. 
HB IN THE 1990s 

The 1990s began innocently enough. Tthe first notable local news item came when HB resident Gary Stewart set a new world record for pogo jumping in May, 1990, continuously bouncing for twenty hours and twenty minutes. However, the dark ages continued into the early 1990s.
Wayne Ichija Yoshisato of Huntington Beach was charged with murder in the July, 1990, for fatal beating of his girlfriend's 14- month old daughter which he committed after raping the mother. In August of the same year, 15-year old Tri Tue Thanh Kha murdered a gang rival at the Huntington Beach Boys and Girls Club. In 1991, however, a poll of Huntington Beach found that 98% of residents viewed their city favorably, despite pollution, traffic and crime. 
Though plagued by a troubling level of racially motivated violence (usually against blacks, Asians and Latinos), Huntington Beach seems to have regained peace from truly grisly crime during the latter part of the 1990s. There remain, of course, exceptions. In the 2000s, there was the case of Ian W. Allen, a 23 year-old self-professed Satanist who conspired with his teenage girlfriend to kill her mother by stabbing her over fifty times, stuffing her in a box and dumping it in Newport Harbor. Aside from that case, and still not-infrequent hate crimes and harassment, Huntington Beach has, like most of America, improved since the festering 1980s and early 1990s and remains lower than the national average. Today, the population of Huntington Beach is 77% white, 17% Asian/Pacific Islander and 17% Latino of any race. The top employers are Boeing, Quiksilver and Cambro


A large, beautiful marsh, the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, lies between Downtown Huntington Beach and Huntington Harbour and remains largely undisturbed. A $110 million restoration of the wetlands was completed in 2006. There is a small, free parking lot that should not be confused with the adjacent beach parking, which costs $15. Also, there is no crosswalk between the two. The flora and especially fauna change with the seasons and on the early summer day we visited there were pelicans, least terns, clapper rails, two black-necked stillts and maybe some western snowy plovers.

The waters are home to grey smoothound sharks, round stingrays but, most terrifying were the massive, revolting, capitvating slug-like California Sea Hares. There were also many birders snapping pictures. One was accompanied by his young son who carried a small bow and said, "ah juh shi! ah juh shi!" to me.  I've heard that before but was unsure of the meaning. South of Downtown are more, smaller marshes; the Talbert, Newland Brookhurst and Magnolia Marshes, which lie behind Huntington State Beach.


The northern and southernmost beaches, Bolsa Chica State Beach and Huntington State Beach, respectively, are state parks and only Huntington City Beach is maintained by the town. Camping and RVs are permitted and popular at Bolsa Chica, which is a sandbar separating the Bolsa Chica wetlands from the ocean. A portion known as "the cliffs" is home to a dog beach. Sunset Beach is maintained by Orange County and lies between the ocean and the city's marinas.

Huntington City Beach is popular with sand volleyball players, surfers and huge crowds of others. It also boasts the pier, which provides lovely views of the city, the oil rigs, the aquamarine-colored waves and the smokestacks in the distance. Huntington State Beach borders the southern marshes and ends at the mouth of the Santa Ana River.


With four beaches and a consistent surf, Huntington Beach has long been popular with practitioners of the sport. The first road large redwood board in the 1920s. In 1955, Gordon Duane opened the city's first surf shop, Gordie Surfboards.


In 1959, the first West Coast Surfing Championships were held in Huntington Beach. The Huntington Beach Surf Club was established in 1963 with over seventy members. Huntington Beach, in fact, has trademarked the nickname "Surf City." The U.S. Open of Surfing and Beach Games are held in Huntington Beach.

Huntington Beach is also home to the International Surfing Museum, which features the Surfers' Hall of Fame, surf-related exhibits and, on Sundays, the back lot hosts surf bands.

Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku

On the day of our visit, we were treated to the sounds of Tower 21 and 3 Balls of Fire.

Statue of Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku

Bao and the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame

Outside the museum is the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame honoring those who've contributed to surf culture.


By the 1980s, Main Street Huntington Beach had acquire a reputation as a haven for drug-dealing, prostitution and violent crime. In 1983, the city approved a redevelopment plan and condos and businesses began popping up in the years that followed. Tourists and locals descended on the revived district and in April of 2011, the LA Times reported that revenue for the area was by then twenty times what it had been in 1988.

The area is the site of many of Huntington Beach's local events. Every Tuesday, Surf City Nights includes food booths and live, free entertainment. In March, the Beachcruiser Meet showcases hundreds of classic cars in the Main and Pier parking lot. Miracle on Main Street is the name for the Main Street Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. The third Wednesday of every month there's the Huntington Beach Art Walk. Chili at the Beach is a chili cook-off which benefits the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) and occurs during the Fathers' Day Weekend.

However, when the sun goes down the families go home and a three-block stretch of Main Street takes on a different character, that of the "Jersey Shore of the West." Although the alcohol sales help fuel the economy, Huntington Beach is ranked No. 1 in victims killed and injured in alcohol-involved traffic accidents among cities its size in the state. Even though the sun was still up on the day of my visit, I did witness an SUV packed with young men pumping their fists to trance, presumably in anticipation of the night's drunken debauchery (e.g. beer pong, more fist pumping, public urination). The cops even have a special code for drunks breaking into someone else's house to pass out because it's so common, a "Downtown 459."


Main street ends (or continues) onto the Huntington Beach Pier, the longest municipal concrete pier in California. It's another popular site for Huntington Beach events. Every year in May, the Sunset Wine Tasting at the Pier features wines from around California and raises money to benefit AltaMed's Huntington Beach Community Clinic, which serves thousands of uninsured and medically underserved patients. The following two days, the Annual Duck-a-thon is held in the water off the pier, a rubber ducky race.

On the day of our visit, the DJs in a booth representing KIIS FM hyped the crowd of four children.

At the mouth of the pier, Pier Plaza, street performers wowed the crowds and drum circle-types pounded away.


Huntington Beach was a very large, beautiful Central Park. The parking lot is landscaped with attractive xeric plants (nice!) and there are fairly developed forests with large Blue Gum Eucalyptus.

It's also the location of the Richard Neutra and Dion Neutra-designed Huntington Beach Public Library (which was closed on the day of our visit). A Concours d'Elegance (a prestigious car show) is held at Central Park in June and benefits the public library. On the other side of the street is the Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center.

On the day we visited there was a large crowd gathered for live music under an inflatable band shell.


In addition to the aforementioned events, Huntington Beach hosts a biathlon in July. A Fourth of July parade has been held annually since 1904. The Cruise of Lights Boat Tour is held in the Huntington Harbour neighborhood. The annual Kite Festival is held in late February. An informal "Donut Derelicts" car show occurs every Saturday morning at the intersection of Adams and Magnolia Street. Huntington Beach also hosts the National Professional Paintball League Super 7 Paintball Championships in March


There are two major shopping areas in Huntington Beach, Bella Terra and Old World Village. Bella Terra is a large, outdoor shopping center. In its amphitheater, live music is performed regularly. There are also regularly-held special events for kids. It opened in 1996 and was built on the ruins of the old, indoor mall, the Huntington Beach Center.

In the shadow of the Towers at Bella Terra, a group of tall business complexes, is the Old World Village… a much older outdoor mall with a German theme (that can feel, during slow times, like a Bavarian ghost town). The 50 buildings were built, I believe, in 1978.

It's just the sort of fading, charming simulacrum that I like. It hosts numerous events including Dachshund Races, classic car shows, RICO's Comedy Revival Show!, the Plum Festival, German Heritage Day and, biggest of all, Oktoberfest.

As I wondered the winding, shady streets I saw only one other soul… sitting still as stone on a bench… kind of creepy in an abandoned-theme-park kind of way ...and a total HB gem! Read my Block By Block post, Kitsch and Kultur: Exploring SoCal Bavaria, for more. 


For a city it's size, Huntington Beach has an insane amount of places to eat. The people love to eat and, not surprisingly, it hosts the annual  Taste of Huntington BeachPerhaps the most celebrated joint was the Golden Bear, which opened in 1929 and became a popular nightclub in 1963. It hosted the likes of BB King, Janis Joplin, Steve Martin, Charles Bukowski and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Unfortunately it was demolished in 1986.Especially well-represented are Italian, Mexican and sandwich joints seem to be especially well-represented but in the HB, eating, drinking, music, TV all seem to go hand in hand so here's a let of eateries and drinkeries of different stripes. We, nonetheless, ate at Bodhi Tree, a nice, tasteful and tasty Vietnamese joint.

Other options include: Adami, Alberto's, Aloha Grill, Aloha Hawaiian BBQ, An's Restaurant, Avila's El Ranchito, Aztecas, Bagelmania & Coffee House, Baci, Baci di Roma Trattoria, Baja Sharkeez, Basilico's Pasta e Vino, BBQ Bistro, Beach Burgers, Beach Pit BBQ, Beachfront 301, Bella Roma, Bhodi Tree Cafe, Black Bull Chop House, Big Chopsticks, Buffalo Wings 'N Things, Bukhara, Bun & Burger, Buon Gusto, Burtucci's New York Pizza, Cafe Enchante, Caffe Gazelle, Cancun,

Capones Italian Cucina, Casa Jimenez, Catalina Fish Kitchen, Catch of the Day, Cavallino Ristorante, Centerfield Sports Bar, Champa, Cherry On Top, Chicago Ribs, China Kitchen, Charo Chicken, Chronic Tacos, Coach's Deli, Coache's Mediterranean Grill, Cobantigua Cafe, Corner Bakery, Crabby's Boat House, Crivello Ristorante Italiano, Cucina Alessa, Daimon, Daphne's California Greek, De Simone Bakery & Delicatessen, Deli-licious, Deville, Digg's, Don Jose's Mexican Restaurant,

Don the Beachcomber, Don Ramon's, Dukes
Dwight's Beach Concession, East Winds Asian Cuisine, Eat at Joe's, El Chavito, Eggroll King, Endless Food & Fun, Esther's Place, Euro Market Bakery & Deli, Fiesta Grill & Catering, Fiesta Grill 2, Fish Camp, Fitzgerald's Pub, Five Guys Burger and Fries, Frank's Big O Pizza, Fred's Mexican Cafe, Fresca's, Fritzankotters, Fuji's Famous Burger, Gallagher's Pub & Grill, George's, Golden Chopsticks, Gong's Chinese Food, Good Day Cafe, Great Wok,

Green Rice Kabob, Hank's West Pizza, Harry's Cafe, Harvey's Steakhouse, Hashigo Sushi, Hero's Pub, Himalayan Grill, Honeybaked Ham Co, Hot and Spicy Thai, Hot Off the Grill, House of Brews, Huckleberry's Famous Sandwiches, Huntington Beach Beer Company & Restaurant
 Hurricane's Bar & Grill, In-N-Out Burger, Inca Gourmet, Irassae, Islands, Jan's Health Bar, Jersey Mike's Subs, Joe's Sushi, John's Philly Grille, Johnny's Saloon, Jon's Coffee Shop, Joy Sushi, Ka Shabu,

Kathy May's Restaurant, Kelly's Donuts and Burgers, Kiku Restaurant, Killarney Pub & Grill, King's Fish House, King's Pizza, Kirby's Surf City PizzaLa Brique Steakhouse, La Choza Restaurant, La Fontana Ristorante, LaRocco's Pizzeria, Lamppost Pizza, Las Barcas, La Capilla, La Casita, La Petite Baquette, Lee's Lucky Wok, Linda's Mexican Restaurant, Lino's Pizzeria, Longboard, Los Primos Cantina, Lotus Chinese Eatery, Lou's Oak Oven Barbecue, Lucci's Deli, Luggatti's,

Malibu Fish Grill, Mama's on 39, Mangia-Mangia, Mangiamo Gelato Caffe, Mario's, Mario's Fiesta Maya, Market Broiler, Marlin Bar and Grill, Massimo's Pizza, Matsu Restaurant, Mazara Trattoria, Mike Thai Bros Bistro, Minimex Everywhere, Mitasie 3, Molcajete Grill, Mona Lisa Italian Cucina, Monkey House Cafe, Mother's Market & Kitchen, Mr P's Espresso Italiano Caffe, My Place, Niya, No Ka Oi, Nonna Lucci's, Norm's, Normita's Surf City Taco, O'Connell's, OC Juice N Gyro, Ocean Pacific Market,

Oceans Sushi & Oyster Lounge, Oggi's Pizza & Brewing Company, Olive Pit, Old World German Restaurant, Pacific Coast Hot Dogs, Pacific Crust Sandwiches, Pancho Frijoles, Panda Palace, Park Bench Café, Pee Wee's Famous Hot Dogs and Hamburgers, Peet's Coffee & Tea, Pei Wei, Pelican Isle, Perq's, Perry's Pizza, Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken, Pete's Sunset Grille, Photastic!, Phuket Thai Restaurant, Pick Up Stix,
 Pizza D'oro, Pizzarito, Polly's Pies, Porky's PizzaRA Sushi Bar, Randazzo,

Rathskeller, Red Chair Lounge, Robek's Juice, Rockin' Baja Coastal Cantina, Rockin' Crepes, Rodrigo's, Sakura Shabu Shabu, Sakurai, Sammy's, Sancho's Tacos, Sandy's Beach Grill, Sango Sushi, Sea Siam, Sebastiani's Italian Bistro, 2nd Floor Food ART Drinks, Secret Spot, Shades, Shima, Shogun, Shooters Sports Bar and Grill, Silk Thai Cuisine, Slapfish Truck, Slow Fish, Soya, Spark Woodfire Grill, St George Pizza, Suds Surf City Sports Grill, Sugar Shack Cafe, Sullivan,

Sunny's Waffle House, Super Mex, Sushi on Fire, Suhsi Top, Sushi Ya, Sweet Elle Café
Sweet O Donuts, T'Kila, Tacone Flavor Grill, Tacos Jerez, Tacos el Chavito, Tacos Jerez, Taqueria Don Victor, Taste of France, Thai Gulf, Thai Pepper, Thai Wave, The Bread Crumb, The Californian, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, The Corner, The Donuttery, The Firepit, The Gourmet Crepe Company, The Loft, The Orange Dog, The Seafood Zone, Three Monkies Japanese Kitchen, TK Burgers, Todai, Tokyo Deli,

The Wok Experience, Tower 15 Pizzeria, Tsunami, Tumbleweeds, Tuna Town, 25 Degrees
, Two Brothers Pizza, Valentino's, Vittorio's, Waba Grill, Wahoo's Fish Taco, Whata Lotta Pizza, Woody's Diner, Z Pizza, Zimzala and Zubies Dry Dock.


With booze, karaoke and food mixing so readily, perhaps it should come as less of a surprise that there are far fewer clubs than bar & grills vying for nigh owls. There's the gay Ibiza Bar & Nightclub, the strip club Simply Seductive and, my favorite, the mostly Asian crowd-attracting Avec Nightclub, where Vietnamese New Wave is often played and danced to.


For a city as associated with surfing, it may come as a bit of a surprise that the surf music of the 1950s and '60s didn't produce any major acts that I'm aware of. It was mentioned, however, in "Surfer Joe" by The Surfaris as well as "Surfin' Safari" by The Beach Boys. Oh, and Ashlee Simpson's music video for "La La" was filmed in Huntington Beach. HB did produce a number of famous punk bands, however, including The Vandals, The Offspring and Reel Big Fish. There are also bands that drew upon punk as well as other genres including bands like The Dirty Heads, Hellogoodbye and Avenged Sevenfold. Huntington Beach-born musicians include Matt Costa and Keri Kelli. Other Huntington Beach bands include Millionaires and smaller acts. DJ Culture is Huntington Beach's primary electronic music store and Vinyl Solution is the main punk store.


The Surf Theatre was a famous and beloved theater located near the pier that showed independent surf films including Endless Summer and Fiver Summer Stories. It was owned and operated by Hugh Larry Thomas from 1961 until it was demolished in 1989.

Today, the SoCal Independent Film Festival takes place every September. The Southland's PBS station, KOCE-TV, is broadcast from the city's Golden West College Campus. HB was the subject of the TruTV series Ocean Force - Huntington Beach.

It's also served as a filming location for All that I Need, BoardRoom, Children of the X-Files, Convict, Frost/Nixon, Hallowed, Kate So Far, Lava Lounge, Locked In, Marmaduke, 90210, Pink Lemonade, Raspberry & Lavender, Rats & Bullies, Route 66, Slasher, Starsky & Hutch, Surf Nazis Must Die, The Born Losers, The Hog, The Legends of Nethiah, The Living Curl, The OC, The Plotters, Triangle Square and Waterworld.

HB is also the birthplace of actresses Amy Grabow and Bridgette Monet (born Dana Kunath Height).


One last note about my day in HB. When I returned to the CARDIS, someone had written in the dust on the rear window, "Jesus loves u... doubt it", "wash me" and "the power of Christ compels you." Huntington Beach has a history of "Jesus freaks" too. In 1968, when his mother died, her son David Berg took control of her tiny Christian and Missionary Alliance congregation and began recruiting hippie Teens for Jesus. In 1969, he changed the name to The Children of God and left Huntington Beach. By 1970, the Children of God were receiving guidance (via Berg) from Abrahim, a 13th century Bulgarian king. In the early 1970s, Berg started pimping female followers for Christ in a practice called "Flirty Fishing." They've since called themselves The Family of Love, The Family and now, The Family International… could this have been their work? or was it that Korean family who parked next to me… anyway, message received. Till next time, shaka brah!

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Filipinotown

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 13, 2011 01:12am | Post a Comment

This blog entry is about Historic Filipinotown. To vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods to be the subject of a blog entry, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, vote here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Historic Filipinotown

Historic Filipinotown is a neighborhood in Los Angeles' Mideast Side boundried by the 101 to the north, Beverly to the south, Hoover to the West and Glendale to the East. Its neighbors are Silver Lake and Echo Park to the north, Angeleno Heights to the northeast, Temple-Beaudry to the east, Westlake to the south, and Wilshire Center to the west.

Prior to its official designation in 2002, the neighborhood was often described as being part of Rampart Village, Westlake, Echo Park, and Silver Lake

The designation of Historic Filipinotown strikes some as odd. To casual observers who only pass through the area in their cars, the neighborhood doesn't look especially Filipino. The streets aren't exactly lined with nipa huts. In addition, Filipinos are sometimes referred to as "the Invisible Minority" because most in America speak English as a first language, most speak English, and most no longer live primarily in ethnic enclaves. It may come as a surprise then that the area around Historic Fillipinotown is actually home to quite a few Pinoys. 

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Mideast Side

They probably should've just called it "Filipinotown" and dropped the "Historic" except that there are even more, apparently, Koreans, Mexicans, and Salvadorans in the neighborhood. But then again, Koreatown is mostly Latino, Little Ethiopia is largely Jewish, Little Tokyo is heavily Korean, and Thai Town is primarily Armenian. The fact of the matter is that Filipinotown is a major cultural and culinary center for Filipinos but what's done is done and the official name has lead to the nickname, HiFi.


Filipinos first settled in the US starting in 1763, when they established Saint Malo in Louisiana. Prior to that, the Austronesian ancestors of modern Filipinos had spread across the Pacific Islands, some of which would later become part of the US. After the 1902 conclusion of the Philippine-American War, the first Filipinos came to California and Hawaii.

In 1911,  Pablo Manlapit formed Filipino Higher Wages Association and the Filipino Unemployed Association in Hawaii. Many Filipino males continued to immigrate, working as farm laborers, as there were fewer restrictions against them than applied to other Asians since their country was an American colony. In 1920, over 10,000  Japanese and Filipino plantation workers go on strike. In 1928,  Filipino farmers were chased out of Yakima Valley, Oregon by a white mob.

In 1934, the Tydings-McDuffie Act reduces Filipino immigration to 50 a year while outlining the Philippines' path to independence. However, after  The Philippines become independent from the US in 1946, citizenship was offered to all Filipinos living in the United States.

Although state-sanctioned racial discrimination is no longer practiced and Filipinos are often thought to have assimilated into mainstream society, there are still cases of anti-Filipino racisim. For example, in 1999 Joseph Ileto was murdered by white supremacist Buford Furrow just for being brown. In 2007, Marie Stefanie Martinez was beat up by a group of black teenagers in New York City... their excuse was "she looked Chinese."

Anyway, no doubt in part because of the relative ease with which they move through mainstream American society, Filipinos are prominent in the arts and entertainment industries. There are a lot of American artists and entertainers with some Filipino ancestry and, off the top of my head I can think of Chad Hugo, Christine Castro Hughes, Joey Santiago, Lou Diamond Phillips, Ernie Reyes Jr., Dante Basco, Emy Coligado, Joanna Bacalso, Jocelyn Enriquez and Reggie Lee.


In the 1920s, Los Angeles' Filipino population was centered in the residential hotels in Little Tokyo. In 1929, anti-Filipino riots began around California over inter-racial relationships between white women and Filipino men, in defiance of anti-misegination laws.

After the Philippines achieved independence in 1934, a limit of fifty Filipinos per year was imposed as punishment. Most of these immigrants settled around 1st and Main, just west of Little Tokyo, and the area came to be known as Little Manila. If anything, that's "Historic" Filipinotown but anyway... After the passage of the Luce-Cellar Act of 1946, which increased the quota to one hundred, more Filipinos arrived and the area became increasingly crowded.

With growing racial tension between Filipinos and black Angelenos, most of the Pinoy population relocated to nearby Bunker Hill, a formerly posh neighborhood of Victorian homes which had by then been subdivided and deemed a slum.

After that neighborhood's demolition in the late '50s, many Filipinos moved west to Temple-Beaudry and what's now Historic Filipinotown. Most of the homes in the area date back to the 1920s and 1910s although, especially in the eastern edge, there are Victorians built in the 1890s. As with Bunker Hill, by the time the Filipinos arrived, many of the neighborhood's older inhabitants had moved elsewhere, following the expansion of Los Angeles and abandoning the early and by then unfashionable Victorian and Craftsman neighborhoods.

With the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, national quotas for "Malays and Mongoloids" were finally lifted and Filipinos were actively sought out to help end a shortage of qualified nurses. As a result, Filipino immigration exploded and Filipinos were only surpassed by Chinese in numbers of Asian immigrants. There are still a lot of Filipino nurses, huh? Anyway, one in four Filipino immigrants to the US settled in the Los Angeles era and there are now around 400,000 here. With the expanding numbers and with segregation ended, Filipinos began to fan out from their traditional enclaves and today there are pockets of large numbers in Filipinos both where Little Manilas traditionally existed and in newer enclaves in places like Arleta, Artesia, Buena Park, Carson, Cerritos, Covina, Diamond Bar, Eagle Rock, Glendale, North Hollywood, Panorama City, Walnut, West Covina and West Hollywood.


Filipinos had long lobbied for the establishment of an official Little Manila but with the population so spread throughout the county, the question of where exactly remained until the establishment of Historic Filipinotown in 2002. Today, not only is the neighborhood a large Filipino bedroom community but as a cultural and commercial center it rivals even the Eagle Rock Plaza. It's home to several Pinoy organizations and establishments. The Historic Filipinotown Neighborhood Council works to preserve the cultural, political and economic development in P-Town.

Filipino Christian Church

The Filipino Christian Church, established in 1933, is the oldest Christian Church in the county.

Filipino American Community of Los Angeles

There's also the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA), whose hall one can rent out for events. 

Filipino American Service Group, Inc.

 The Filipino American Service Group, Inc. (FASGI), stands out with its traditional Filipino vibe.

Search to Involve Pilipino Americans

There's the Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA).

In addition to those, there's The Rotary Club of Historic Filipinotown (HIFIRC), the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC), the Pilipino American Network and Advocacy (PANA) Filipinas World Travel, the Filipino American Library (FAL), Philipino American Comm-LA, and the Historic Filipinotown Chamber of Commerce (HIFICC).

One of the oldest sites in the neighborhood pre-dates the arrival of Filipinos to the area, the Bonnie Brae House. In 1906, the home of Richard and Ruth Asberry (216 N. Bonnie Brae Street) gained fame as the birthplace of the Pentecostal movement when a black, Catholic-raised preacher named William Seymour led a fast and after three days, one Edward S. Lee began speaking in tongues and was soon joined by others. Today the home is open as a museum (by appointment only).

Faustino “Peping” Baclig WWII memorial

The first Filipino WWII Veterans Memorial in the nation (designed by artist Cheri Gaulke and with a quote from Faustino “Peping” Baclig) is located at Lake Street Park at the former site of Our Lady of Loretto High School.

The crosswalks in Filipinotown have even been decorated with traditional Filipino basket weaving patterns.

Luzon Plaza

Manila Terrace

There are even strip malls and apartments with names like Luzon Plaza and Manila Terrace!


There are two major annual events in the Historic Filipinotwn: the Annual Historic Filipinotown 5k Run/Walk/Festival in August and, after Thanksgiving, the lamp posts along Temple Street are decorated with parol which remain until the Three Kings Celebration and then are highlighted by the Christmas Parol Parade. Currently, there are also plans for monuments to Uncle Roy Morales, Philip Vera Cruz and Jose Rizal.

I'm not sure what section to put it in, but P-Town is home to the LA Derby Dolls, too.


There are several Filipino restaurants in the neighborhood including:

  Bahay Kubo Natin

Sisigan Republic Atvp (previously Pinnoy BBQ
 [sic] and Amihan)

 Nanay Gloria  

 ...and Little Ongpin.  

Not pictured but also offering Filipino cuisine are AristocratKapistahan Grill, My Mom's Bake Shop, and Salakot Sizzle and Grill Restaurant)

I would have eaten at one of the Filipino joints except for the fact that Filipino food is pretty much up there with Mongolian or Inuit in terms of not-being-vegetarian-friendly. Being a hot day, I did grab a Calamondin juice from Temple Seafood Market, which was refreshing.

Non-Filipino joints include Bernie's Teriyaki, Lowenbrau Keller, TiGeorge's, Bangkok Express, Brooklyn Bagel Bakery, Dante's, Antojitos Chapines Amalia, Tacos El Aja' Toros, Gigi Bakery & Cafe, Alberto Tamales, Luong Vinh, Village Kitchen  and Ostionero Colima 2
The most famous restaurant in Historic Filipinotown is the Original Tommy's Hamburger, which was started by Greek-American Tom Koulax and opened on May 15, 1946 at the intersection of Rampart and Beverly, where it still stands.

There are also some bars, including Medusa Lounge, Fredo's, 1642, Chang Billy.


There's at least one art gallery in Historic Filipinotown, Tropico de Nopal Gallery.
There's a mural in Beverly Union ParkGintong Kasaysayan, Gintong Pamana, which depicts key moments and figures in the Pinoy civil rights struggle. The fact that Paula Cristomo is Chilipina is frequently overlooked, as is the fact that the 1964 Grape Boycott was begun by Filipino farm workers.

There's also a Cache mural, which typically depicts chickens, Zapatistas and simplistic political sloganeering and iconography.


I don't know of any actors/filmmakers or bands from Filipinotown but there is Gemini Video, however. Gemini Video is much more than a video store. They do sell and rent a large selection of Hollywood and Filipino films on DVD and VHS... they also sell nurse scrubs, dish soap, bags and all kinds of seemingly (to me) random items.


At 201 N. Occidental stands the old Occidental Studios. They were built in 1913 by a then-famous actor from Ohio, Hobart Bosworth. It was at Occidental that Canadian actress Mary Pickford got her start in film. The studios were later owned by director Robert Aldrich.


The neighborhood is also home to both Pehrspace and L'Keg Gallery, both of which focus on up-and-coming bands with considerable talent and both of which are located in the Glen Village Shopping Center

The nearby Filipino-owned Tribal Cafe also hosts live music events. The Pan American Nightclub, despite its name, boasts that it's "100% Latino" and, in keeping with that boast, mostly features Bachata, Bolero, Cumbia, Duranguense, Merengue, Punta, Reggeaton and Salsa.

So check out Historic Filipinotown, "bayang magiliw, perlas ng silanganan." Palaam na po!


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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Fairfax

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 10, 2011 03:17pm | Post a Comment

The Fairfax District is a small Midtown neighborhood with a long history as one of Los Angeles' primary centers of Jewish culture. The boundaries, like many Los Angeles neighborhoods, aren't universally agreed upon but I place them as Melrose Ave on the north, N La Brea Ave on the east, W 3rd St to the south and N Fairfax on the west.
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