“Restoring the City to its Rightful Position” THE POTENTIAL OF REVIVING “MY CITY” IN PASADENA FOR THE 21ST CENTURY THE NATURAL CYCLE OF GENERATIONS
THE NEW GENERATION GAP
This exploration began with Mayor Tornek’s vision to “restore Pasadena to its rightful position as a model for other cities to emulate.” As introduced on page 22, “My City” is one of the sources of that reputation.
For much of the 20th Century, adults in their 20-40s helped lead Pasadena at a time that older generations were more often moving into retirement. Today, the idea of retirement is less common and too often those under 50 are under-represented at civic meetings in Pasadena.
Pasadena’s World War I generation left a legacy of reform, direct democracy (p.27-51), and the classical buildings of the 1920s. Like many cities, the architecture of this period forms the city’s historic core, much of it inspired by the City Beautiful Movement of the 1910s. The World War II generation brought Modernist Redevelopment to the city. Though Modernist homes are widely admired, the perspective of citizens is consistent in its regret of Redevelopment replacing (p.71) pre-WWII downtown blocks with cold, flat, lifeless modern landscapes that followed. The generation gap between the Boomers (1946-1964) and their parents saw an anti-war, pro-conservation rebellion, saving the old buildings their parents were tearing down. Time has inverted their reputation for rebellion, as the Boomers were heroic in their preservation of all that was planned a century ago.
In 2015, Mayor Bill Bogaard left office at the age of 78. Newly elected Mayor Terry Tornek is 70. By contrast, Pasadena’s mayor in 1900 was 32. Council member Tyron Hampton is 34 and an exception to this trend. There are others as well, but very often, those in their early 50s are among the younger people in the room. While there are doubtless benefits that come with aging civic leadership, there are obvious pitfalls as well. People in their 20s-40s are more forward looking. They tend to focus more on vision as have more future at stake. The younger generations are also more likely to have up-to-date technical know-how and a more current cultural perspective. A new generation of informed civic advocates is essential to reinvigorate the planning process and provide energetic vision and leadership for planning the future of the city.
The Greying of Involved Citizens In 2015 a group called Connecting Pasadena Plan held a wonderful two-day planning charrette to study the potential of the 710 freeway stub abandoned 50 years ago. Amidst the broad public invitation, there were very few in their 20s-40s.
MY CITY 1916
"My City" tells the story of Pasadena’s City Beautiful Movement and the century that followed, exploring how this proven approach can be rev...