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AN ISLAND CALLED CALIFORNIA The name California is born of a mythic island paradise ruled by a queen named Calafia. Along with the tale of the Seven Golden Cities, these Old World fables sparked the imaginations of Spanish mariners in the 1500s, explorers who gambled fortunes and lives, searching in vain to find the cities of gold. As the puzzle of the world fell into place, the mistaken idea that California was an island was difficult to correct. Before there were public schools and libraries, knowledge was handed down and often out of date. Most people were illiterate and believed what they were told. As the truth emerged, fixing past errors took hundreds of years in some cases, with new maps showing California as an island still being produced as late as 1865. As a more complete picture of the world took shape, the rise of science and the printing of books brought a shift from the divine right of kings to the value of people making informed decisions and ruling their own lives. This Enlightenment in the 1700s marked the rise of reason, evidence, free choice and people following their own vision of life. The Enlightenment was crucial to all aspects of the American Revolution. Its bottom-up ideals went hand-in-hand with the creation of the public school and the public commons. Once it was deemed worthy of taxation, libraries proliferated in the decades surrounding 1900, fueling people’s desire to know their world better and participate more fully in creating their future. California’s sunshine and open space provided fertile ground for the fruits of increased public knowledge to blossom. Envisioning an “Athens of the West,” with free libraries and schools, its leading citizens sought to empower an informed populace to create strong and innovative government institutions which would pay great dividends in the century that followed.

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CONCLUSIONS

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"My City"  

"My City" tells the story of Pasadena’s City Beautiful Movement and the century that followed, exploring how this proven approach can be rev...

"My City"  

"My City" tells the story of Pasadena’s City Beautiful Movement and the century that followed, exploring how this proven approach can be rev...

Profile for mycityis
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