By Elsa Court
If you thought California’s tech scene was restricted to San Francisco and Palo Alto, think again. Incorporated in 1886, Pasadena is one of Los Angeles County’s oldest cities and a sought-after destination for tech workers and those Angelenos who crave the greater privacy and proximity to the natural world it offers.
In 2006, California became the first US state to mandate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Pasadena has felt the effects of global warming: figures from the State of California Energy Commission show that the number of extreme hot days in the city rose from three to 18 per year between 1990 and 2015, and are predicted to increase to 48 a year by 2050.
Pasadena unanimously adopted a climate change action plan last year, which committed the city to reducing gas emissions to 27 per cent below 2009 levels by 2020, exceeding statewide targets by 12 percentage points. Pasadena aims to reduce gas emissions to 83 per cent below 2009 levels by 2050.
Pasadena’s economy is bolstered by several thriving tech research institutions, including the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), which manages Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Together Caltech and Nasa are Pasadena’s largest employer, accounting for more than 10 per cent of the city’s workforce, and have so far helped create more than 160 start-ups in fields ranging from software producers to life science companies, two-thirds of which are still active.
Nestled at the foot of the San Gabriel mountains, a 350,000-acre portion of which was designated a national monument by President Obama in 2014, Pasadena is a short drive from some of the country’s most ambitious hiking trails. These include the dauntingly named Devil’s Backbone Trail, which takes in the highest peak in Los Angeles County.
The commute from Pasadena to downtown LA is less strenuous: the Gold Line on LA’s Metro system connects Pasadena to Union Station in under 30 minutes and to Los Angeles International Airport in a little over an hour.
Pasadena has fine examples of early 20th-century residential architecture, including the arts and crafts Gamble House and Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1923 Millard House.
While these are not available to buy, other craftsmen-style homes are, not to mention Spanish colonial revival-style residences dating from the early 1900s, as well as mid-century post-and-beam dwellings.
Property listing site Zillow shows Pasadena as a buyers’ market, with lower median home values compared with other well-heeled LA neighbourhoods.
According to Knight Frank, the average median price for a three-bedroom property in Pasadena ($1,035,000) is about two-thirds of the price for a similar property in the neighbouring suburb of La Cañada Flintridge. A two-bedroom apartment in Pasadena ($736,483) is less than half the price of a similar property in West Hollywood ($1,680,833).
The Rose Bowl is the oldest American football contest, held every New Year’s Day in Pasadena since 1902. It is preceded by a parade of flower-covered floats, which brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city.
The Rose Bowl Stadium, a National Historic Landmark and home to the University of California, Los Angeles Bruins football team, will celebrate its centenary in 2022. It has hosted concerts by the likes of Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake and JayZ.
Photographs: Kit Leong; Getty Images; Ken Wolter; Dreamstime