AAAIM > Altadena > History

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Altadena History

you'll probably enjoy visiting

Echo Mtn. Echoes

the web version of the local history magazine about Southern California history in general and Thaddeus Lowe and his mountain railway in particular.

Pasadena and Mt. Lowe Postcard

The history of Altadena can be traced back to its original indigenous peoples. The immigrant families who later moved into the area can also be traced back to their various arrivals on the shores of this continent. Since then, property ownership, acquisition, and annexation in this area is quite complicated and frenzied. If you are curious about the exact details, and they are interesting, there are two excellent books on the subject available at the Altadena Public Library. "Altadena," by Sarah Ives and "Altadena's Golden Years," by Robert Peterson (catalog number 979.493).

Linconl Avenue and Millard Canyon

In my opinion (and others agree) Altadena's defining moment came in 1885 as Pasadena finalized its incorporation. A committee formed to investigate widening the boundaries of Pasadena (at the time bordered by Fair Oaks and Villa at its East and North), suggested new boundaries of the Arroyo Seco to the West, Santa Anita Ranch to the East, Old Monterey Road to the South and the foot of the mountains to the North. Fortunately, there were objections, otherwise, Altadena might only be known today as a neighborhood within that metropolis to our South. Through the ensuing years, attempts by Pasadena to annex Altadena have repeatedly failed.

Altadena Poppyfields

Through the years there has been some debate as to the origin of the name Altadena. In the 1930's, it was thought to mean upper-Eden, from the Italian. More definitive sources now indicate the meaning to be "merely" upper-Pasadena. Incidentally, this area, when ruled by the Spanish, was called Alta-California.

A quote in 1928 by Judge Arthur P. Will, a local leader earlier this century still holds true today:

"Altadena is unincorporated territory, being under the government of Los Angeles County. We have resisted incorporation because we wish to avoid the expense of an independent government [sic] the turmoil, envy and heart-burning incident to local elections. We desire to live in peace and harmony with our neighbors; we are a residential community and we have just what we came here to get - country life with city advantages."

Christmas Tree Lane


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I found a quasi official song of Altadena which was proudly and loudly sung at Chamber of Commerce meetings. It may have been printed incompletely (or not), but I think the arrangement I've given it is probably close to the original.


AAAIM > Altadena > History

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Last modified: January 31, 2008