Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Presenting in Pictures - PASADENA DEPARTMENT STORES - Each Distinct in Their Chosen Architectural Loveliness

This is a page from the Pasadena Independent, Wednesday, January 1, 1947, celebrating all things Pasadena. Department Stores were destinations here at that time, a place to go to shop, dine, experience.

Unfortunately, all we have left in Pasadena Department Stores are two Macy's, one in the old Bullocks Pasadena on South Lake and one in the Broadway Bunker in the Paseo, two Targets on East Colorado, and one almost dead Sears in Hastings Ranch. Small locally owned retail is certainly almost dead in Pasadena save for Berg and Crown Hardware and Vroman's, otherwise we have a ghost town on North and South Lake with retail vacancies at more than 50%! Reminds me of Jerome, Arizona, the old mining ghost town on the hill where they put cardboard ghosts in the empty shop windows. Charming.......

I do see that on North Mentor and sometimes on Colorado and sometimes on South Lake there are art installations in the vacant storefronts. Until the City of Pasadena and the diverse shopping districts figure out a way to allow Live/Work space for artisans and art galleries in these vacant retail spaces, empty space is what we will have to live with.

Small locally owned retail is unlikely to come back even in better economic times; that business model is probably headed for extinction. The restaurants like Hamburger Hamlet and Bob's Big Boy on South Lake seem to be doing o.k., also Burger Continental and bars like Magnolia. So hopefully the City of Pasadena and our business community will figure out a new model to fill up all that "haunted" space and make the urban streetscape more interesting. Hope springs eternal!

Do you remember when Mather's was on the NW corner of Marengo and Colorado, Nash's was on the NE corner of Arroyo Parkway and Colorado, Broadway was on the NW corner of Los Robles and Colorado and Sears was on the SW corner of Madison and Colorado, just west of the ornate I. Magnin which was torn down to make room for a parking lot for Sears in the late 1940's!! and then built a new building just south of the new Oak Knoll Shopping District's Bullocks?

I like that previous classy name for South Lake " The Oak Knoll Shopping District !" Now that label sounds like a million bucks! Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and the South Lake Shopping District, are you listening? Try a rebranding and then a rezoning for an Arts District, how about " The Oak Knoll Arts, Entertainment, and Shopping District?" Watch out "Playhouse District!"