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  • Pasadena Faces the Challenge: 1950-1970

    By 1950 the population was 104,777, including a significant increase in the Black population (from 3,900 in 1940 to 7,800 in 1950). In the mid-'40's and early '50's, to relieve the housing shortage, new housing tracks were opened in the Linda Vista, San Rafael and Allendale areas and to the east in the Hastings Ranch and Coronet areas. Retail sales showed a steady increase and in 1947 the opening of Bullock's heralded what was to become an exclusive shopping area on South Lake Avenue. A new shopping center opened in Hastings Ranch in 1956.

    With growth came problems. The city once famed for its salubrious climate was now inundated with smog. As the business district moved east of Fair Oaks and Colorado, the area that was once the heart of the city became dilapidated, with high vacancy rates and declining property values. In much of the city's pre-1929 housing, middle income families moved out and low income families moved in. Minority populations were heavily concentrated in the older sections of the city. The early '60's saw some major companies leave Pasadena due to lack of land for expansion. Although the problem of central city decline was pointed out in a major report in 1959, little was done to remedy it until the early seventies. An April 27, 1969 Los Angeles Times article on Pasadena was entitled "Pasadena's Crown City Image Tarnished: White Flight, Urban Blight, School Problems."

    Norton SimonThe year of 1969 marked the opening of the Pasadena Art Museum of Modern Art (now the Norton Simon Museum of Art) and the closure of the renowned Pasadena Playhouse, sold at auction after years of financial difficulties. Plans for the Foothill and Long Beach Freeways, which would link Pasadena to major arteries on the east, west and south were underway, removing parcels of land from the tax rolls as well as low-priced housing occupied by minorities, the elderly and low-income families.

    The seventies were a period of economic revitalization, primarily under direction of the Pasadena Redevelopment Agency. Large corporations relocated their headquarters to Pasadena, the Conference Center was built, and the Plaza Pasadena retail shopping mall was completed. Millions of square feet of office space were created, as well as many new condominium projects and commercial buildings.


     1970 - Present >> 

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