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Pasadena: The City of Roses

The Harvard Crimson 1994 Spring Travel Guide

By Leondra R. Kruger

There's nothing East Coasters like better than to point their fingers at Southern California and laugh.

"Earthquakes! Fires! Mudslides! Riots! You're going to fall into the ocean and die!"

But we Southern California keep our heads up high. It's only jealousy. What else can East Coasters do to keep their minds off the sub-freezing temperatures but point to the land of palm trees and sun and make bad jokes?

And besides, there are places that the earthquakes and fires and mudslides haven't touched. Such as Pasadena.

Yeah, Pasadena. You know--the home of football and freeways, roses and "The Little Old Lady." You can watch it every New Year's morning in all its purple-mountained glory. Take away the chrysanthemum-covered floats and the groggy spectators and you've got Pasadena, 365 days a year.

Pasadena, like most of Southern California, is almost always sunny and clear. Its streets are lined with palm trees and elegant houses. The heritage that gave rise to the Tournament of Roses is evident on every corner. Rich East Coast exiles moved West to Orange Grove Avenue, dubbed "Millionaire's Row," where they built the mansions that still stand as a testament to Pasadena's history.

But just around the corner from Orange Grove, where floats make their annual turn in the Rose Parade, lies one of the trendiest places in Southern California--Old Town.

Old Town Pasadena is where the Little Old Lady and "Beverly Hills, 90210" meet. The historic Green Hotel, once the stopping place of presidents and other personalities, is just across the street from Rose City Diner, 90210's Peach Pit.

Old Town is lined with movie theaters, bars, clubs, bohemian coffee houses and constantly packed restaurants.

Weekend crowds pack the sidewalks, stopping occasionally to listen to a steel drum band on the corner, or to watch the flurrying hands of a balloon-animal artist practicing his art in front of the local candy store.

On weekend nights, Southern Californians young and old stroll Old Town's streets, stopping occasionally to listen to the steel drum band or watch a man twist balloon animals on the corner.

Of course, there are other things to do and see in Pasadena. Football fans will want to visit the Rose Bowl, and art buffs shouldn't miss the Norton Simon Museum or the Huntington Art Gallery and Library. Southern California's more famous attractions, such as Disneyland and Hollywood, are only short drives away. The beaches, mountains and deserts that usually attract spring break crowds are equally nearby.

But make no mistake about it--the City of Roses can hold its own against the City of Angels, and Malibu and Mammoth both. Pasadena is more than a parade route--it's a Southern California hangout that somehow manages to be at once hip and historic.

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