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“MY CITY” The Civic Center Vision: This conceptual sketch for a Civic Center is from “Pasadena Plan” of 1915 and Dean Damon’s “Hammer and Roses”

talk given to the Pasadena Woman’s Civic League (which can be found at mycity.is/pasadenaplan.pdf). Before World War I, the extension of Library Park (now Memorial Park) was seen as the logical location for a new Civic Center. However, it required either moving or burying the Santa Fe tracks which would take another 80 years to accomplish.

“Home-Made” City Planning In an effort to connect the hands-on spirit of the Progressive Era with the emerging city planning movement, the City Beautiful Association created a process called “My City” which invited citizens to help craft their city with the same hands-on approach that they used to build their homes. Competitions were held to beautify empty lots. A “Four Corners Competition” (p.33) was held to generate new ideas for the design of major intersections. The City Beautiful Association invited citizens to give “city planning suggestions, and a result more than one hundred separate ideas were submitted, both by individuals and by the allied organizations.”

“In all the history of municipal endeavor along these lines, probably there never was an exhibit approximating the one at present here… to obtain the co-operation of citizens in choosing the best out of the good; in deciding what shall be done first, and of proving to them that it is within their power to do anything they please.” Henry James

Pasadena Star-News March 3, 1916

With the larger themes of Progressive politics, the Arts & Crafts Movement, and World War I in Europe, the City Beautiful Association adopted a uniquely democratic approach by polling visitors to the “My City” Exhibit, an approach that was explicitly designed to build support for a Civic Center bond measure that would eventually follow. The exhibit presented both an in-depth history and pointed critique of the city. A “We Object Corner” (also called the “slam corner”) invited critical debate. As outlined in the article abridged on the next five pages, Dean Damon’s approach of connecting past lessons learned with a frank assessment of the present was the key to building a common vision for Pasadena’s future.

“Pasadena Plan” The Planning Association’s “Pasadena Plan” of 1915 called for new streets, now Union Street and Green, parallel to Pasadena’s main thoroughfare of Colorado Street. Calling for the removal of the Santa Fe (Gold Line) tracks, the commuter rail line on what is now Arroyo Parkway ending at Colorado would be the site of new Civic Center (center).

E

CONTENTS

PREFACE

LAKE AVE.

38

AVE. ORANGE GROVE

ARROYO SECO

BRIDG

CALTECH

INTRO

MY CITY 1916

MAIN ST.

TODAY

LESSONS

Profile for mycityis

"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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