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South Pasadena, California
City of South Pasadena
South Pasadena Middle School (28 July 2009) (cropped).jpg
South Pasadena Public Library.jpg
Adobe Flores 2014 01.jpg
Clockwise: South Pasadena Middle School; South Pasadena Public Library; Adobe Flores
Official seal of South Pasadena, California
City of Trees
Location of South Pasadena in Los Angeles County, California
Location of South Pasadena in Los Angeles County, California
South Pasadena, California is located in the United States
South Pasadena, California
South Pasadena, California
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  California
County Los Angeles
Incorporated (city) March 2, 1888
 • Type City Council/City Manager
 • Total 3.42 sq mi (8.85 km2)
 • Land 3.41 sq mi (8.83 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.03 km2)  0.35%
659 ft (201 m)
 • Total 25,619
 • Estimate 
 • Density 7,430.04/sq mi (2,869.11/km2)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
91030/91031 (PO box)
Area code(s) 323/626
FIPS code 06-73220
GNIS feature IDs 1661479, 2411940

South Pasadena is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 25,619, up from 24,292 at the 2000 census. It is located in the West San Gabriel Valley. It is 3.42 square miles in area and lies between the much larger city of Pasadena, of which it was once a part, and the metropolis of Los Angeles. South Pasadena is the oldest self-builder of floats in the historic Tournament of Roses Parade.


The original inhabitants of South Pasadena and surrounding areas were members of the Native American Hahamog-na tribe, a branch of the Tongva Nation (part of the Shoshone language group) that occupied the Los Angeles Basin. The Tongva name for the area that covers modern day South Pasadena and much of Alhambra was Vaytsuung'xuilhoor pronounced /ʋaitsyŋ sʐuilχøɛr/. Tongva dwellings lined the Arroyo Seco (Los Angeles County) in South Pasadena and south to where it joins the Los Angeles River and along other natural waterways in the city. They lived in thatched, dome-shape lodges characteristic for their use of carved wood decorations in the Nava style. For food, they lived on a diet of corn meal, seeds and herbs, venison, berries, fruits and other small animals. They traded for ocean fish with the coastal Tongva on a daily basis. They made cooking vessels from steatite soapstone from Catalina Island. South Pasadena also has a strong claim to having the oldest and most historic sites in the San Gabriel Valley. For many centuries, its adjacency to a natural fording place along the Arroyo Seco had served as a gateway to travel and commerce for aboriginal peoples here and along the coast. It was here that Hahamognas greeted Portola and the missionaries who later established the San Gabriel Mission a few miles to the east.

The initial buildings on the Rancho San Pascual were built on the land which eventually became the cities of Pasadena, South Pasadena and Altadena. The first of these adobe structures became headquarters for General Flores and his staff in 1847 where they agreed to surrender to American forces, ending Mexican Colonial rule in California. In 1875 the landowners of the area encompassing present-day Pasadena and South Pasadena voted to rename their association, Pasadena.

South Pasadena's first mayor was Donald McIntyre Graham. In February 1888, members of the southern portion of Pasadena attempted to gain more control over their own property and a vote for incorporation was made. In 1888, South Pasadena incorporated the southern portion of the Indiana Colony and land south and eastward to the Los Angeles border. Few Tongva had received any land. On 2 March 1888, the city of South Pasadena was incorporated with a population slightly over 500 residents, becoming the sixth municipality in Los Angeles County. It was chartered with roughly the same area as the current South Pasadena, about 3.42 square miles (8.91 square kilometers). With completion of the Pacific Electric Short Line, putting the entire city within easy walking distance of the “red car” stations, South Pasadena also became one of the first suburbs of Los Angeles.

South Pasadena's history is associated with that of the Cawston Ostrich Farm and the Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain, which played vital roles in the history of the city.

Modern South Pasadena

South Pasadena's streets are lined with numerous species of native California trees. These include redwood, sequoia, ash, walnut, and sycamore. Some non-native trees, such as sweetgum, are also seen. Because there are very few stucco-clad Spanish Colonial houses and virtually no palm trees in some parts of the city, South Pasadena is a popular stand-in for Midwestern and Northeastern towns in motion picture and television productions. South Pasadena sits less than 10 miles (16 km) from Downtown Los Angeles; substantial numbers of residents work either in Bunker Hill or as professors and staff at the University of Southern California.

"Mom and Pop" merchants populate the business district, and the Mission West area is a part of the original U.S. Route 66. Of historical relevance is The Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain; also the Rialto Theater in downtown South Pasadena is a unique blend of Spanish Baroque and Egyptian stylings and was built in 1925. It is one of the last remaining single screen cinemas in the country. The Rialto was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, having narrowly missed being torn down that year. It went out of business on August 19, 2007 because of low profits. It has been featured in many films and commercials, most notably Robert Altman's The Player and more recently in La La Land.

The Farmer's Market has become a tradition in the historic Mission-West District of South Pasadena on every Thursday from 4pm to 8pm. On the first Saturday of December every year, South Pasadena Booster Club hosts an annual 5K/10K run around South Pasadena known as the "Tiger Run", after the SPHS mascot. Racers from kindergarten to age 80 are invited to participate, including a wheelchair event. The 5K is run on flat sidewalks and roads around town, but the 10K (6.2 miles) includes some difficult hills. There is also a 300-meter children's run for kids 10 and under.

South Pasadena can often be seen in motion picture productions with its beautiful tree-lined streets and "anywhere in America" feel. Such movies as Freaky Friday, The Terminator, Gone with the Wind, Halloween, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, American Pie, The Girl Next Door, Legally Blonde, 13 Going on 30, Back to the Future, Mr. Deeds, Bruce Almighty, Old School, The Ugly Truth, and License to Wed are just a few of the notable films shot on location in South Pasadena. Notable television series that have been filmed there include Parenthood, Family, Boston Public, Nip/Tuck, Desperate Housewives, Cold Case, Bones, Modern Family, No Ordinary Family, Big Love, and '.

The house used in the film Halloween on Mission Street in South Pasadena.

Geographic location

Diagram showing South Pasadena's location in relation to other cities in a 8-kilometer (5.0 mi) radius.

Localidades cercanas
South PasadenaSouth Pasadena
Localidad con 85804 habitantes (2000). Alhambra (4 km)
Localidad con 6045 habitantes (2000). East Pasadena (8 km)
Localidad con 60051 habitantes (2000). Monterey Park (7 km)
Localidad con 133936 habitantes (2000). Pasadena (5 km)
Localidad con 53505 habitantes (2000). Rosemead (8 km)
Localidad con 39804 habitantes (2000). San Gabriel (6 km)
Localidad con 12945 habitantes (2000). San Marino (4 km)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 623
1900 1,001 60.7%
1910 4,649 364.4%
1920 7,652 64.6%
1930 13,730 79.4%
1940 14,356 4.6%
1950 16,935 18.0%
1960 19,706 16.4%
1970 22,979 16.6%
1980 22,681 −1.3%
1990 23,936 5.5%
2000 24,292 1.5%
2010 25,619 5.5%
2020 26,943 5.2%


The 2010 United States Census reported that South Pasadena had a population of 25,619. The population density was 7,496.4 people per square mile (2,894.4/km2). The racial makeup of South Pasadena was 13,922 (54.3%) White (43.6% Non-Hispanic White), 771 (3.0%) African American, 107 (0.4%) Native American, 7,973 (31.1%) Asian, 9 (0.0%) Pacific Islander, 1,422 (5.6%) from other races, and 1,415 (5.5%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 4,767 persons (18.6%).

The Census reported that 25,456 people (99.4% of the population) lived in households, 8 (0%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 155 (0.6%) were institutionalized.

There were 10,467 households, out of which 3,621 (34.6%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 4,904 (46.9%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 1,264 (12.1%) had a female householder with no husband present, 451 (4.3%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 501 (4.8%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 107 (1.0%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 3,073 households (29.4%) were made up of individuals, and 802 (7.7%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43. There were 6,619 families (63.2% of all households); the average family size was 3.06.

The population was spread out, with 5,998 people (23.4%) under the age of 18, 1,576 people (6.2%) aged 18 to 24, 7,431 people (29.0%) aged 25 to 44, 7,510 people (29.3%) aged 45 to 64, and 3,104 people (12.1%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40.1 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.5 males.

There were 11,118 housing units at an average density of 3,253.2 per square mile (1,256.1/km2), of which 4,787 (45.7%) were owner-occupied, and 5,680 (54.3%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.1%; the rental vacancy rate was 6.1%. 13,185 people (51.5% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 12,271 people (47.9%) lived in rental housing units.

According to the 2010 United States Census, South Pasadena had a median household income of $85,058, with 6.7% of the population living below the federal poverty line.

Parks and recreation

The Arroyo Seco (canyon, stream, and cultural landscape) offers a diverse range of experiences for walkers and more experienced hikers.

The Arroyo Seco stream begins at Red Box near Mount Wilson in the San Gabriel Mountains and proceeds through steep mountain canyons for eleven miles (18 km) until it enters the urban plain of Southern California at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The stream, largely channelized south of Devil's Gate Dam, proceeds in the Arroyo Seco canyon for eleven miles (18 km) more: through Pasadena, South Pasadena and Northeast Los Angeles to the confluence with the Los Angeles River near Elysian Park, Chinatown and downtown Los Angeles.


Top employers

According to the city's 2015–2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of employees
1 Ralphs Grocery Co. #21 91
2 The Vons Companies Inc. Pavilions #2228 88
3 Trader Joe's No. 18 82
4 Bristol Farms 81
5 WNC Insurance Services, Inc. 74
6 TLC Veterinary Centers Inc. 71
7 Stargate Films Inc. 65
8 Collins, Collins, Muir & Stewart, LLP 65
9 Orchard Supply Hardware 63
10 The Vons Companies Inc. #3075 62


Due to its small-town feel and proximity to major film studios, South Pasadena has frequent filming. Scenes from La La Land and Ladybird have been shot here. The town hosts around 200 shoots per year. South Pasadena is also the location of the house of the character Michael Myers from the film Halloween. Other notable films include Old School, Liar, Liar, Beethoven, Back to the Future, and Teen Wolf.


South Pasadena Middle School (28 July 2009)
South Pasadena Middle School before the 2009 renovations

The South Pasadena Unified School District (SPUSD) includes five schools: three elementary schools (Monterey Hills, Marengo and Arroyo Vista), South Pasadena Middle School, and South Pasadena High School. Former elementary schools now closed or renamed are Lincoln (now Arroyo Vista), El Centro (now the school district headquarters), Las Flores (limited grades, near Flores Adobe, historic landmark), and Oneonta (later a private Montessori school).

South Pasadena and the neighboring city of San Marino have had a long-standing rivalry. Until 1955, the two cities shared the same high school, which was adjacent to the South Pasadena Public Library. Every year, the schools' football teams compete for a victor's plaque. As of 2014, South Pasadena team had won 28 and San Marino 29. There have been three ties. Many SPHS team have won CIF titles over the years.

SPEF (South Pasadena Educational Foundation) is a 501(c)(3) charity designated by the SPUSD as the official private fund-raising organization for the support of the district's educational programs.



LACMTA Metro Gold Line at South Pasadena
The Los Angeles Metro L Line passing through South Pasadena

Fair Oaks Avenue, Huntington Drive, Fremont Avenue, and Mission Street are the main thoroughfares through South Pasadena.

The Arroyo Seco Parkway, formerly the Pasadena Freeway, has two exits in South Pasadena--Orange Grove Avenue and Fair Oaks Avenue.

LACMTA operates three bus lines (79, 258 & 260) through South Pasadena. The South Pasadena station for the Metro L Line, formerly the Gold Line, is in the heart of South Pasadena, located at the corner of Mission and Meridian.

South Pasadena operates its own public transportation system. Since 2003, South Pasadena has been operating the City of South Pasadena Community Transit to connect with the Mission L Line Station, whose schedule is linked to the L Line schedule. The system was originally called "South Pasadena Gold Link." Additionally South Pasadena has a transit shuttle that operates around the city. As of 2007, many outdated traffic signals have been replaced throughout South Pasadena.


The South Pasadena Fire Department provides fire protection services for the city of South Pasadena.

Notable people

  • Meredith Baxter, actress, born in South Pasadena
  • Whitney Blake, actress, director, producer
  • Alison Brie, actress, Community and Mad Men
  • Michael Catherwood, radio and television personality
  • John Daniel, magician and collector (c. 1931–2011)
  • Joe Davis, Los Angeles Dodgers television and Fox Sports play-by-play announcer
  • John de Lancie, theater and TV and film actor, Q on Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Kristinia DeBarge, singer, songwriter, reality star; born in South Pasadena
  • Andy Dick, actor and comedian
  • Thomas Francis Ford (1873–1958), member of Congress, editor, specialist in international trade and the only person ever sent to the Los Angeles City Council by a write-in vote
  • Victoria Forester, New York Times best-selling children's book author
  • Edward Furlong, actor
  • Lucretia Garfield, wife of President James A. Garfield
  • William F. Harrah, founder of Harrah's Hotels and Casinos; born in South Pasadena
  • William Holden, Academy Award-winning actor
  • Minerva Hamilton Hoyt, early activist in California to preserve its deserts
  • Porochista Khakpour, Iranian American writer
  • Dave King, musician, member of Flogging Molly
  • Bob Long, football player for UCLA and 1957 NFL champion Detroit Lions
  • Federico Mena, Mexican programmer, creator of the GNOME desktop environment
  • Sparky Marcus (real name Marcus Issoglio), child actor
  • Noelle Scaggs, singer, musician, member of Fitz and the Tantrums
  • Cody McMains, actor
  • Joel McCrea, actor, born in South Pasadena
  • Jack McGrath, auto racer
  • Rich Moore, Emmy-winning animation director (The Simpsons, Futurama), and partner in Rough Draft Studios, Inc. (Glendale, CA)
  • Kim Soon-kwon, Korean-born biochemist, specializing in hybrid and engineered corn to combat starvation
  • Bronson Pinchot, actor
  • James Reynolds, actor, Days of Our Lives
  • David Lee Roth, singer, member of Van Halen
  • Sakaye Shigekawa, obstetrician
  • Hilary Swank, Academy Award-winning actress
  • Juan Francisco Azcárate, aircraft designer, Mexico's military attache to Germany and later to the United States during World War II.
  • David Tom, actor
  • Heather Tom, actress, The Bold and the Beautiful
  • Nicholle Tom, actress, The Nanny
  • Cheryl Walker, actress, born in South Pasadena
  • Jaleel White, actor
  • Lisa Yee, children's book author

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