Friday, March 19, 2010

Avenue to the Sky Theme Song - Altadena!

Originally, we had considered different options to call attention to Lake Avenue; besides Avenue to the Sky, we considered Avenue to the Stars, but that sounded too Hollywood.

In 1925, the Alatadena Chamber of Commerce published their official song " Altadena ". We would like to adopt this official song of Altadena to also be the official song of Avenue to the Sky and Lake Avenue, particularly considering the stanza:
"Like rock armored knights in gray corslet and bars, stand Mts. Wilson and Lowe with their eyes to the stars, while up from the valley its myriad lights, reflect their fine glory on calm southern nights"

This embodies all we hope for on Lake Avenue "Avenue to the Sky", living in the shadow of Mount Lowe and Mount Wilson, both our Acropolis in the Athens of the West, center of art, culture, science and natural wonders on the Pacific coast.

The small bungalow which housed the Altadena Chamber of Commerce, also a real estate office, was located on the east side of Lake Avenue about where the Ralphs is now located in Altadena. There was much enthusiasm back then on the "Avenue to the Sky", similar to the energy being now generated at the "Gallery at the End of World" on the upper reaches of Lake Avenue.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Return of Trader Joe's Market (formerly Pronto Market) to the North of the Railroad Tracks, Soon!

These photos are from the full page ad of June 1966 from Pronto Market, Villa and Allen, in North Pasadena, which ran in the Pasadena Courier. Here from Wikipedia the history of Trader Joe's, which was started at Villa and Allen as Pronto Market:

Trader Joe's is named after its founder, Joe Coulombe. The chain began in 1958 as a Greater Los Angeles area chain of "Pronto Market" convenience stores. The original Pronto Markets were similar to 7-Eleven stores, so similar Coulombe felt the competition with 7-Eleven would be ruinous.[5] He is said to have developed the idea of the Trader Joe South Seas motif while on vacation in the Caribbean.[6] He had noticed that Americans were traveling more and returning home with tastes for food and wine they had trouble satisfying in supermarkets of the time.[7] The first store named "Trader Joe's" opened its doors in 1967. This store, on Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena, California, remains in operation. In response to competition from 7-Eleven, the chain differentiated its stores' offerings and doubled the floor space in 1967. In the first few decades of operation, some of the stores offered fresh meats provided by butchers who leased space in the stores. Trader Joe's at one time had sandwich shops, freshly cut cheese, and fresh squeezed orange juice.

Notice the "Pronto Man" character. The ad style is very recognizable as being the forerunner of "Trader Joe's."

Many of us believe that the City just has not tried hard enough with financial incentives and other persuasion to get the Trader Joe's organization to open a branch on the north end of Lake Avenue, where the demographics suggest there is definitely the well-heeled clientele, although even the less wealthy neighbors would love the freshness, quality and prices of a Trader Joe's. With the historic neighborhoods of expensive homes surrounding Lake Washington Village, such as Historic Highlands, Bungalow Heaven, Washington Square, Garfield Heights, Orange Heights, Normandie Heights, Dundee Heights and El Rio Lake, not to mention all the tony neighborhoods of Altadena on the north stretch of Lake Avenue, we just can't imagine that the Trader Joe's organization wouldn't be willing to cash in and make a bundle, and this would not take away from the business of their Hastings Ranch and South Lake locations which are located quite a ways apart and have their own supporting neighborhoods.

There has been a suggestion of circulating a petition in the surrounding neighborhoods of Lake Washington Village to be submitted to the Trader Joe's organization and to the Councilmembers McAustin and Gordo to show our seriousness of getting Trader Joe's back to its North Pasadena roots and the varied and large clientele which is driving too far or foregoing shopping at the venerable food retailer. Hopefully, we can get our Councilmembers on board and also Pasadena's Development Department to offer the Trader Joe's organization a deal they can't ignore. Once Trader Joe's is in Lake Washington Village, we believe their success can't be denied.

We understand there was a half-hearted attempt to get Trader Joe's to go into the old Alpha Beta store premises at Hill and Washington, but instead we got a Rite-Aid that we really didn't need, with CVS/Savon and now Walgreen's within easy reach of our neighborhoods.

So everybody, the Councilmembers, the City's Development Department and the united neighbors and neighborhoods, let us try again to get the food retailer everybody in the area wants! Let's get the petition started!

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Sad Fate of the Towne Furniture Store Bldg., 854 E. Washington Blvd. and the need for "Edge Repair"

Towne Furniture Store, 854 E. Washington Blvd. in 1947

The Towne Furniture Store just before its demolition in 1985

The Towne Furniture Store was a handsome building as seen in the drawing of the shop in the Pasadena Independent Newspaper dated January 1, 1947. The 1920's commercial building, very much like the remaining historic commercial buildings in the Lake Washington Village area, had a very pleasing ornamental facade, but over the years it succumbed to the decline of the commercial center and was ingloriously covered over with a slab of stucco.
In the end the building was demolished in 1985 to make way for the Food 4 Less Shopping Center parking lot. Nothing remains today except an empty hole of parking spaces just across from the Oversen Building and the Washington Theatre on the north side of Washington Blvd., both landmark buildings.
When we conceived the North Lake Specific Plan for this area in 1997, we proposed that "Edge Repair" would happen to replace the missing buildings on the south side of Washington Blvd. west of North Lake Avenue and also along the west side of North Lake Avenue south of Washington Blvd. along the outer perimeter of the Food 4 Less Shopping Center parking lot. This "Edge Repair" would be done by building "Main Street Architecture" buildings along these perimeters to give an urban edge back to the streetscape. Looking across from the Oversen Building and the Washington Theatre south now, it is a very depressing view of a wide expanse of a parking lot with no buildings to frame the view and not a pleasant or interesting walk for pedestrians.
Lake Washington Village has suffered much from the declines of the 1970's through the 1990's. How do we change the ambiance from check cashing outlets, payday loan shops, storefront churches, liquor stores, filling stations and auto repair into a village of a hardware store, a theater, art galleries, coffee houses, antique shops, nice restaurants, a bike shop and specialty shops, as was once more the case? Did you know that the Union 76 gas station is built on the site of a former popular soda fountain and ice cream shop and that the other two corners had drug stores and the fourth had a Van de Kamp's Bakery?
It will take each and one of us to voice our wishes to the City of Pasadena and our respective neighborhood associations and to the business people we wish to see flourish in our neighborhood Lake Washington Village. We will make it happen!