In Place: South Pasadena

The first thing you need to know about South Pasadena is: it’s not Pasadena. Even before it incorporated as LA’s sixth municipality in 1888, people who lived in the southern sector of Pasadena considered themselves South Pasadenans. Small, proud and independent, the community has worked for nearly 130 years to preserve its distinctive status.

Located on a natural fording place along the Arroyo Seco, the site of South Pasadena has been a hub since aboriginal times. Today, it’s home to some of the oldest and most historic sites in the San Gabriel Valley.

Set just six miles from downtown LA, the small, charming “City of Trees” is one of the LA area’s most desirable places to live — known for its small town atmosphere, unique small businesses, and top-quality schools. It’s easy to see why WalkScore.com named it a Walker's Paradise. The city is filled with Craftsman-style homes like this 1909 treasure just listed by John Aaroe Group at $1,495,000. It’s been beautifully preserved and sensitively updated, with a remodeled master retreat and renovated chef’s kitchen.

South Pasadena's streets are lined with native California trees including redwood, sequoia, ash, walnut and sycamore, making the city a favorite “Anywhere in America” location for movies and TV shows. You’ve seen “South Pas” in hundreds of productions, from Gone with the Wind and Terminator to Bones and Modern Family.

But South Pasadena was nationally famous long before movies existed. It was all because of one fascinating attraction: The Cawston Ostrich Farm. A premiere tourist attraction from 1886 to 1935, it offered ostrich rides, ostrich-drawn carriages, and an array of ostrich-feathered apparel.

Today, the town’s Mission West shopping and dining area, part of the original U.S. Route 66, is served by a Gold Line station. Every Thursday, the street’s unique shops and restaurants are joined by a popular farmer’s market. Nearby, on Fair Oaks Avenue, the historic Fair Oaks Pharmacy with its beautifully restored soda fountain is the community spot it’s been since 1915. Kitchen Sink sundae, anyone?

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