Page 34

“MY CITY” “What Happened in Pasadena: the Story of a Municipal Triumph” From an October 1909 article about Pasadena published in 20th Century Magazine by Francis Marshall Elliott, this abridged article chronicles how a strong municipal structure was critical to the development of the modern city. Through the words of Mayors Waterhouse and Earley, the article shows how the direct democracy approach of the Progressive Era changed the way people thought about what a city could accomplish (including the mixed blessing of eminent domain) and the City of Pasadena’s forgotten 500-acre farm that is seen in the photo at the bottom of the opposite page. The full article can be found at: “The stage-setting in this instance was Pasadena, California, one of the most beautiful residential cities of the New World. It has a population of about thirty thousand. It is known the land over as a city of millionaires and has more beautiful homes and more home-owners than any city of like population in America. A large percentage of its people are retired capitalists and have come hither from almost every section to spend their declining years in this wonderful garden spot where the sun is ever shining and flowers bloom perpetually. More than one hundred and fifty men in the city are reputed to be worth a million dollars or more; while a large proportion of the population are persons in more than comfortable circumstances. Less than one hundred families dwell in flats, and there are no slums, no manufacturing enterprises and no tenement sections. It is preeminently a city of wealth and culture, and by all preconceived notions of economists, Pasadena should be one of the most conservative and undemocratic communities in the land; yet as a matter of fact this city rejoices in, perhaps, the most fundamentally democratic municipal charter to be found in the world—a charter which provides that the city shall have the power:— “To purchase, receive, have, hold, lease, use, and enjoy, property of every kind and description, both within and without the limits of the city. and control and dispose of the same for the common benefit. It furthermore specifically provides that the city shall have the power:— “To construct and maintain water works, pipes, pipe lines, aqueducts and

hydrants for supplying the city and its inhabitants with water and the right to supply water to persons who live without the city. “To construct and maintain gas and electric works for supplying the city and its inhabitants with light, heat and power. “To construct and maintain works for supplying the city and its inhabitants with telephonic and telegraphic service. “To construct and maintain and operate street railways and other means of conveyance, together with all rolling stock, power houses, equipment, appliances, and apparatus necessary and proper in the operation, management and control of the same.”

Pasadena Electric Light & Power Co. 1900 Sixteen years later, the “My City” Exhibit was held here at 34 S. Raymond Avenue. Then, 63 years later, the Espresso Bar was found in the back alley. See also pages 39, 42 and 66.

“Having thus provided that the municipality might primarily establish itself in any line of business deemed by the citizens to be for the public weal. the framers of the charter, evidently fearing that they inadvertently overlooked some point of vantage where some individual or corporation was already established in some line which the community might consider to be to the collective advantage to own, rather than await the otherwise slow process of establishing and building up, in competition with said established enterprises, or else in a spirit of sheer democratic abandon, provided in Section 23 of Article 3, that the city should have the power:“To exercise the right of eminent domain for the purpose of acquiring real and personal property of every kind, necessary or convenient for the use of said city or its inhabitants.” Now these radical and progressive sections of the most radical and democratic city charter in America were not forced upon a reluctant and protesting community by a coterie of socialistic agitators, but were evolved by a charter commission composed of staid business men and retired capitalists, and they were submitted to and adopted by an overwhelming’ majority vote of the wealthy, staid and conservative home owners of Pasadena. In addition to the provisions above quoted, looking to the economic protection of the citizens of Pasadena, this remarkable document embodies the practical political safeguards of popular government—the Initiative, Referendum and Right of Recall, by which the citizens reserve to themselves





MY CITY 1916




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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