• Pasadena City Hall (Photo - Pasadena Police Department).

      Pasadena City Hall (Photo – Pasadena Police Department).

      Pasadena City Hall is being threatened by a misguided hotel development. We’re fighting for you!

      ~ Pasadena Civic Center Coalition

      Join neighbors and concerned Pasadena residents at a public meeting on Thursday, December 8,  to save Pasadena Civic Center.

      This public meeting will discuss the following:

      • The importance of the Civic Center to Pasadena
      • Description of the approved project: 6-story hotel tower
      • Project approvals
      • Lawsuit
      • Ways that you can support efforts to save Pasadena Civic Center
      The YWCA is shown in the far upper left (Photo - Pasadena Police Department).

      The YWCA is shown is the far upper left (Photo – Pasadena Police Department).


      Civic Center creation

      In the early 1920s, the City of Pasadena committed to creating a Civic Center, a collection of governmental and civic buildings and public open spaces of exceptional architectural quality that would enhance civic life and Pasadena’s national reputation. The new Civic Center buildings replaced older buildings located in the City’s original commercial area.

      The Bennett Plan

      In furtherance of this goal, Chicago firm of Bennett, Parsons and Frost developed the “Bennett Plan” for the City in 1923. This firm was the successor firm to Daniel Burnham Architect, who developed the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the Plan of Chicago in 1909, and established the profession of city planning.


      Pasadena voters overwhelmingly approved funding to implement the Bennett Plan in 1923. The bond issued pursuant to this vote provided for the purchase of land that included grounds, approaches, and appurtenances for the three primary buildings of the Civic
      Center City Hall, the Library, and the Auditorium. The voters also approved the Bennett Plan as part of the referendum on the bond issue.

      “City Beautiful” movement

      The Bennett Plan for the Civic Center was designed on Beaux Arts principles and was part of the national “City Beautiful” movement popular in the early 1900s. Beaux Arts city planning focuses on spatial plan and form, relying on symmetrical and axial connections to provide vistas of a monumental buildings. The City Beautiful Movement was a philosophy of urban planning seeking to introduce beautification and monumental grandeur in American cities. One principle of the movement is that a building’s setting is as important as the building itself.

      A hierarchy of buildings

      Pasadena’s Civic Center includes a hierarchy of buildings, with City Hall as the ultimate focal point, flanked by the Library and Auditorium. Other secondary buildings, including the YWCA and YMCA, which were planned and constructed prior to the Bennett Plan and Civic Center design, play a lesser role in the overall composition of the design.

      The City Hall, the Library and Auditorium all employed approaches, or large symmetrical swathes of landscaped public open space across the street, which was set forth specifically in the 1923 bond issue. Although the symmetrical approaches for the Civic Auditorium were lost with the construction of the Paseo shopping mall, the approaches across Garfield Avenue from City Hall, on both the north and south sides of Holly Street, remain today.

      The lasting importance of the 1923 Bennett Plan was recognized when the Civic Center District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places (“National Register”) in 1980. The nomination found that except for minor changes, the majority of the buildings in the
      Pasadena Civic Center National Historic Register District (PCCNRD) are still intact.

      Park areas

      The National Register nomination found open space to be an important feature in listing the PCCNRD:

      Upon entering the district, one is aware that this is an important place in the city. Far less commercial and much more park-like, the Civic Center area is distinct from its surrounding neighborhoods both in architectural style and feeling.

      …To the east of the YMCA and the YWCA are small park areas, attractively landscaped with paths, lawns, shrubs, flowers and California redwood trees. These unbuilt areas allow the facades of the Post Office to the south and the balancing Gas Company to the north to play their parts in the composition.

      7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

      Pasadena Presbyterian Church

      The Pasadena Civic Center Coalition is an unincorporated association of individuals, including those who objected verbally and in writing during the City’s administrative review process, who seek to preserve the historic features and character of the Pasadena Civic Center for future generations. The coalition brought the lawsuit on behalf of itself and in the public interest.

      *Excerpts from the lawsuit against the City of Pasadena.

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