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When Figueroa Street was Pasadena Avenue

December 9, 2010

Figueroa Street (then Pasadena Avenue) looking north at Avenue 51 in 1905. (Photo from the C.C. Pierce Collection via The USC Digital Library.)

Figueroa Street today. My how those palms have grown!

Corner of Figueroa and Avenue 51 looking southwest at Occidental College in 1908. (Photo from the C.C. Pierce Collection via The USC Digital Library.)

Behold the former Occidental campus today! -That's heritage for ya.

Figueroa Street was once the longest street in Los Angeles until it was truncated in Cypress Park by the construction of the Arroyo Seco Parkway. Before that, it was called Pasadena Avenue (the main road to Pasadena) and before that it was called Calle de las Chapules, or Grasshopper Street. A grand avenue with homes, businesses, colleges, and the Pacific Electric Railway that ran in the middle going to Slauson Junction in South Los Angeles. 

USC has a wonderful on-line digital archive with gems like the ones above. Here we have a 1905 picture showing Figueroa Street (Pasadena Avenue) looking North at Avenue 51. The baby palm trees have now become giants, and all the telegraph, telephone, electrical and rail lines are gone. So too are many of the houses, and thankfully the rutted dirt road.

Gone too is the Occidental College in its 1908 Highland Park heyday,  now replaced with auto repair shops, apartments, and a strip mall.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. December 9, 2010 8:47 am

    The Occidental building is still there (minus the top floor). It’s set back further from the street so you can’t see it from that recent image you show. Your blog even uncovered this a few years ago.

    • December 9, 2010 11:09 am

      Yeah, you can see the edge of it just behind the strip mall sign in the photo above. I can’t pass it while on the Gold Line without looking and seeing images of Presidents Taft or Roosevelt out front.

  2. Ian permalink
    December 9, 2010 2:15 pm

    love how you got updated b&w’s for this post!

  3. Daffy F. Duck permalink
    December 9, 2010 4:33 pm

    The poor thing didn’t start off as a strip mall. It used to be a bank and law offices of some sort. When they left all the fancy businesses moved in.

  4. bobo permalink
    December 11, 2010 7:46 pm

    Too bad most of those beautiful buildings are gone. Sad.

  5. December 13, 2010 7:34 pm

    The other day I had the pleasure of meeting pro-preservation Highland Park resident Virginia Neely (and Pasquel Jim) at the Arroyo Verde Awards. She has the kind of “memory of place” that makes her such a treasure

    I realize the pro/con palm argument, but one has to respect the 100 years it took for the avenue palms to reach those heights.


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