History and Grandeur meet in Pasadena at the City Hall

Posted on July 24th, 2009 at 7:28 am by LisaNewton

As I entered the Pasadena Civic Center, it felt like I had just entered into a bygone era of worlds, cities, and architecture, all combined. Although Pasadena is relatively new compared to the Classical and Renaissance times, the feeling of time and place for me became inexplicable and inexorably interconnected.

Completed on December 27, 1927, Pasadena City Hall is an incredible paradigm of California Mediterranean style united with design elements of structures from the Cathedrals and Domes of both Churches and architecture from Italy. From 2004 to 2007, Pasadena City Hall was closed, going through a major renovation, which was both “green” and a seismic retrofit. Seismic retrofit of the building included the installation of structural base isolators that now allow the building to withstand future earthquake activity.  Because City Hall is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, special care was taken to preserve many of the historic architectural elements.

Pasadena Courthouse

The Stunning Architecture of Pasadena’s City Hall

Pasadena’s City Hall’s massive circular towers and structure rises perpendicularly for six stories. The fifth story is 41 feet high and pierced with four huge, round arches and four smaller ones. The next story, set back and cantilevered is 30 feet high and is also pierced with arches. Above rises the dome, its dimensions are 26 feet high and 54 feet across. And on top of the dome is the lantern, a column-supported cupola 41 feet high, surmounted by an urn and ball. The highest point is 206 feet above the ground.

Here is the open archway’s ceiling:


Its magnificent detailing, symmetry, arches, and breathtaking design are simply nothing short of simple beauty. For a moment I turned my attention to the open courtyard facing out as I was long transfixed on the image above only to be equally mesmerized by the view here:


An inner sanctum of solitude, reflection, beauty, art, architecture, and form and function abounds:

Simple Elegance

Noticing the clean lines, perfectly aligned archways, and diagonal placement of the red iron brick colored tiles, I imagined being a courtesan in a King’s palace. I thought that anybody that has the money for a palace should design its hallways just like this—I then walked across the street and visited Plaza Las Fuentes. Upon returning, a wedding was taking place in this very hallway.

You never know what you’ll find while Travelin’ Local, but in this case, I found grandeur, history, and much more which I’ll share soon.

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