Pasadena was incorporated June 19, 1886 but even before it was founded R.W. C. Farnsworth published its history in “A Southern California Paradise” in 1883. In 1873, back in Indiana, the founders formed the California Colony after receiving a letter from a friend with a glowing description of the country and its climate.
Perry M. Green was one of those founders and wrote the colony’s history, pointing out that love of religious liberty induced the Puritans to board the Mayflower and sail to New England but the attraction to emigration to Southern California was unique. “Here, CLIMATE offers the inducement.” After they arrived in Southern California, they incorporated as the San Gabriel Orange Grove Association, “the name at once indicating its location in the already famous San Gabriel Valley, and that orange growing was to be the principal occupation of the incorporators.”
The Assocation purchased 4,000 acres of the San Pasqual Ranch and subdivided it with “ample provision made for parks, wide and convenient streets, and sites for schoolhouses and reservoirs. The plan for parks was subsequently abandoned on account of the garden-like appearance which the entire place assumed.”
The settlement became known as the Indiana Colony, even though there were settlers from many other states. By April 1975 they decided they needed a better name. Among those suggested were Indianola (“the name would retain the hint of the origin of the settlement”), Granada (“our productions and climatic conditions were similar to those of the region of Granada”) and Pasadena, an Indian name meaning “Crown of the Valley.”
The argument for Pasadena went like this: “Our location was at the extreme end, and in the most beautiful and romantic portion of the famous San Gabriel Valley, and therefore was entitled to assume a name which was so descriptive of the locaity, besides being beautiful, musical, and euphonious.”
Pasadena will celebrate its 126th birthday this Saturday from 12pm - 4pm at the Pasadena Museum of History. The 1886 photo comes from the Pasadena Digital Collaboration (a great source for archival photos). See also L.A. as Subject’s brief illustrated history of Pasadena on the occasion of its 125th birthday.