Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Pasadena Not Just for Smelling Roses

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Story and Photo


By Cecil Scaglione

Mature Life Features

Pensive statue in Pasadena’s Pacific Asia Museum

PASADENA —- Much of the world becomes aware of this town 15 minute north of downtown Los Angeles when it unveils months of work on blossom-burgeoned floats in the yearly Rose Parade along Colorado
This is a prelude to the granddaddy of all college bowl games: the annual New Years’ Day
football festival in the Rose Bowl, where the University of California – Los Angeles Bruins play
their home games.
But when visitors consider Los Angeles, they envision a melange of movieland, Malibu,
Disneyland, and Beverly Hills. Few folks even consider visiting this quiet community that’s as homey as a ’57 Chevy.
But you can please both your palate and your psyche in this town that appears, in spots, like it
might have been plucked out of the Poconos rather than sequestered alongside the San Gabriel
While teasing your taste buds at one of the 500 local eateries – this number should be no surprise
when you learn cooking icon Julia Child was born here – you may stumble upon luminaries
of big and small screen as well as stage who have long found this “city that feels like a village” a liveable
But you can get closer to much bigger stars here.
Creative minds at Jet Propulsion Laboratories monitor progress of their history-making
space probes. Reservations are required, but tours of this facility are free. Details for a visit are available at
To pleasure your psyche, the Norton Simon Museum offers an intimate walk among works by,
among others, Monet, Rembrandt, Rubens, Renoir, Raphael, and Degas, including his famous
depiction of a young ballerina “Waiting.” All are within touching distance in this visitor-friendly
facility along the Rose Parade route.
While you‘re in this part of town, skip over to the Pasadena Museum of History for a quick tour
of the 18-room Fenyes House. The mansion echoes how Pasadena grew out of the Spanish
outpost established at Mission San Gabriel by Franciscan Father Junipero Serra back in 1771.
The community sprouted after the transcontinental railway reached the sleepy little town of Los
Angeles in the 1870s and the region was discovered by a handful of wealthy Midwesterners from
Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan seeking escape from frigid winters.
The Fenyes House is one of 52 grand mansions built in the late 1800s along a millionaires’ row known as “the Boulevard.”
It was millionaire railroad-and real-estate magnate Henry Huntington who established the 207-acre Library, Art
Collections and Botanical Gardens complex known simply as The Huntington.
The Library, a research center that has been dubbed the Bastille of Books, houses original
Shakespeare works as well as Benjamin Franklin’s handwritten autobiography and an original
Gutenberg Bible.
On display in the art gallery are several works by Gainsborough, including his renowned Blue
Boy. A mausoleum built on the grounds was designed by John Russell Pope and used as a
prototype for the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Fifteen gardens exhibit botanical eye-candy stretching from Chinese and Japanese landscaping to a
patch of desert.
It was near a knoll now supporting a rose-festooned Temple of Love that a neighbor’s young lad
used to play his war games. The boy grew up to be Gen. George Patton of World War II fame.
Between tours of these and other attractions, such as the Pacific Asia Museum, where some 50
centuries of Asian ceramics is part of its exhibits, there’s a wide choice of palate-pleasing
For example, just an interlude away from the Pasadena Playhouse – such household names as Dustin Hoffman
and Gene Hackman launched careers here – is Maison Akira, where chef Akira
Hirose fuses French and Japanese cuisine. He gets it all done, he said because “in the kitchen, its like a big orchestra and I just direct the musicians.”
After all this activity, you just might want to take a few moments to smell the roses in Pasadena.

                                                              Mature Life Features, Copyright 2004

Written by Cecil Scaglione

April 3, 2013 at 12:05 am

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