Friday, May 8, 2009


Here is additional information from the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from 1931 showing the layout of the Ralphs Supermarket a few doors down from the gas station which was on the SW corner of Lake and Walnut. Look at the footprint of the magnificent entrance tower to parking off of Lake. It is painful to lose such a beautiful building. Notice the Pacific Electric double track in the middle of Lake Avenue. Do you remember when there was a gas station practically on every corner? Times change.

At this time the Columbia Grammar School of the Pasadena Unified School District was on the SE corner of Lake and Walnut, which was sold by PUSD in the ensuing years and the Farmer's Market was constructed and later partially demolished leaving what is now Ralphs Supermarket.

Ralphs certainly lost a wonderful home on Lake Avenue in Pasadena when they moved out of this Spanish Colonial Revival style temple. Most likely this building was damaged in the 1971 Sylmar earthquake leading to its demolition shortly thereafter, the fate of many unreinforced masonry buildings, both after the 1933 Long Beach earthquake and the 1971 Sylmar earthquake. Seismic reinforcement would have been a much better option in hindsight.

Ralphs Supermarket on North Lake Avenue was originally located in a wonderful Spanish Colonial Revival style building which was on the Southwest corner of Lake and Walnut and ran from 171 to 181 North Lake Avenue, including a tower and an ornamental driveway entrance gate. The beauty of the architecture in this part of Pasadena from the 1920's to the end of the 1940's is beyond our present day conception.

Alas, the Ralphs Supermarket moved into the non-descript former Farmers Market location across the street on the Southeast corner of Lake and Walnut in the late 1960's when the new Pasadena Mutual Savings Building in a modern style was built on the site of the former Ralphs Supermarket, it being also now demolished for the present IndyMac Bank building. So many demolitions and reconstructions, but nothing will be built to match the beauty of the Spanish Colonial Revival style buildings of this pictured Ralphs Supermarket building on North Lake Avenue or the previous post of the Security Pacific Bank tower building on the Southeast corner of Lake and Colorado. We do not seem to be progressing toward beauty as far as architecture is concerned on Lake Avenue in Pasadena. This is what makes historic preservation all the more important, when we learn what we've lost, we know we need to preserve the beauty which still exists.


  1. In the 1970's Ralphs was located at the southeast corner of Lake and Mountain, underneath Zody's. Did Ralphs move there right after the Spanish Colonial Revival building was demolished, or did it move there later? I know there was a Market Basket on Lake and Walnut where Ralphs is now in the late 70's and early 80's.

  2. Hello, sjan. I'm not sure exactly when Ralphs moved and where. Thanks for adding to the information about where Ralphs has been on Lake. Boys Market, later Yucaipa Market, later Kroeger, present owner of Ralphs owns the Market Basket name, which they used for a while on the Food 4 Less at Lake and Washington. The Ralphs on North Lake in Altadena was a Market Basket for years, as well, the present Big Lots at Claremont and Lake was a Market Basket for years. Really too bad the Market Basket name is not being used anymore, as it was a local institution for so many years, and was always associated with Altadena and Pasadena. We will continue to research the chronology of the local markets. Please add any more memories you might have. It's appreciated.

  3. Wow! this intersection has had more losses than I knew about. Today's Ralph's is a far cry from this beauty.