The Story of South Pasadena and How It Grew

South Pasadena Beautiful, Inc. has reached it 51st year.  We are grateful to those “pioneers” who were its first founding officers: Fred Golding, Catherine McCabe, Margaret Hughes and Henry Wheeler.

            They were the ones who planted the seed that was to grow into an active, totally volunteer organization – dedicated to the belief that pride of community should be promoted, that existing beauty should be recognized and preserved, and that unsightly areas should be dealt with promptly, the hardest goal of all. These founders believed that all this could be accomplished through a volunteer organization which would draw its membership from the people who cared…the community itself.  They were right.  Those original four officers and a small committee has grown into a board of directors numbering 20 and a general membership of over 200. 

            The removal of some beautiful trees on Milan Avenue was the act that set the founders into motion in 1965.  So it is not surprising that the planting and preservation of trees has been a continuing interest and concern of South Pasadena Beautiful, as witnessed by the planting of:

  • Forty Crepe Myrtle trees on Mission Street, working with the Boy Scouts (in the mid-sixties)
  •  Twenty four Liquid ambar trees on Monterey Road east of Fair Oaks (in the late sixties)
  •  Trees and flowers on the north side of Grevalia, adjacent to the freeway and Canary Pines south of Raymond Hill in the early seventies.
  • Eighteen Cupaniopsis trees on Maple Street and 25 Crepe Myrtle trees on Spruce Street in the mid seventies.
  •  One hundred mature trees on the hillsides of the Altos de Monterey, as a project with the Boy Scouts in the early eighties.
  • A Redwood tree in Garfield Park in the mid eighties.
  • Two Tabeuia trees planted at Arroyo Vista School in memory of student Phoebe Ho, in the late eighties.  Helping landscape Marengo School and planting Cherry trees on the playground.
  • A grove of Sycamores planted along Arroyo Drive in 1992.
  • Two Sequoias, two Cupania and one Strawberry tree planted at the War Memorial Building in 1995.
  • Twenty Crape Myrtle trees on the north side of Mission Street from Brent Avenue to Garfield, in memory of founding member Margaret Hughes in 1994.
  •   Over the years, South Pasadena Beautiful has also worked with the city and the schools.  Some of its projects include. 
  • Improving the landscaping of the South Pasadena Library and installing a bronze sculpture at the entrance.  (We are currently working on a project to install new outdoor furniture at the Library.)
  • Providing new concrete entrance signs to the City.
  • Planting gardens with the high school Ecology Club and helping renovate the high school patio.
  •  Sponsoring anti-litter and anti-graffiti drives.
  • Providing and maintaining the indoor plants at the Public Library since 1982.
  • Participating in the general planting of Heritage Garden and planning a Centennial Rose Garden which it dedicated to the City. 
  • Playing an important part in the landscaping of City Hall.
  • Founding “Project Together” in 1992, a city-wide effort to clean up and beautiful the entire community.
  • Rejuvenated the SOUTH PASADENA 110 Freeway hillside, rock sign.  This was accomplished with an ambitious fund raising campaign. The previous rock based sign had deteriorated after many years.
  • Installed concrete pavers at the north end of the covered picnic area at Garfield Park in 2011.
  • Creating the memorial Rose Garden at Garfield Parkand near Mission Street.
  • Funding new sprinklers and landscaping for the median at Fletcher Avenue and Huntington Drive.
  • Updating the landscapingat the Fair Oaks and Huntington Drive triangle and funded new sprinkler system.
  • Initiating the concept of what has become the city sponsored Fall Dumpbster Day which was an element of a week long citywide pride and clean-up campaign.
  • New patio furniture at the Library
  • New War Memorial Building Sign
  • Funding $10,000 for new tree planting in the City
  • Replacing 8 vandalized Gingko trees on Mission St.
  • Paved sidewalk in front of the South Pasadena Nature Park
  • Tree Benches on Diamond Avenue outside Kaldi Cafe

            Aside from these special projects, South Pasadena Beautiful has on-going programs each year.  One of them is the Golden Arrow Award which has been going strong since 1969.  It’s SPB’s way of honoring those who have improved and beautified their properties, both residential and commercial.   A handsome, bright wooden arrow is placed in the ground of the recipient’s property for all to see.  Often, when someone has received an Arrow, nearby neighbors start to spruce up their gardens… its’ contagious.  The South Pasadena Review always publicizes these awards which make s them even more special.

            Another annual event, also dating back to 1969, is the “South Pasadena Garden Tour and Plant Swap.”  We have only praise for those wonderful residents who are willing to share their beautiful gardens with their fellow South Pasadenans at no charge.  A Plant Swap is a part of the afternoon’s festivities, where one may bring a plant to share and take one to keep.  The Plant Swap is always fun and very popular.

South Pasadena Beautiful has accomplished a great deal since 1965 with a particular awareness of the need for improved maintenance of our city grounds; the parks, the Library, the City of South Pasadena Freeway sign, and the War Memorial property.