California Cities

Alhambra, CA Travel

If there's one thing you need to know about Alhambra, it's the homes. Historic homes that grace tree-lined palm streets, rekindle what residents and newcomers thought about the Los Angeles County city 100 years ago. They called it "City of Homes" and considered it the best place to live in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley between Los Angeles and Pasadena.

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Historically significant houses include Craftsman, Bungalow, Spanish Mediterranean, Spanish Colonial, Italian Beaux-Arts, and Arts & Crafts that you can visit and look at on a drive tour through the city. Several places that include higher concentrations of homes include Bean Tract in the northwestern part of the city (Huntington Drive south to Alhambra Road). Alhambra's priciest neighborhood, the Bean Tract, is named after the once prominent Alhambra resident, Jacob Bean who was a Minnesota lumber baron. Like the Gambles of Proctor & Gamble fortune who built the beautiful Gamble House you can visit and tour in Pasadena, Bean also retired to this portion of Los Angeles 1901. He was so taken in by the favorable climate that he purchased 104 acres that he developed into citrus groves. At the time Los Angeles was completely different place with amazing blue skies most days and wide open spaces. Still there are some fantastic Alhambra parks operated by the City of Alhambra Parks & Recreation department that tourists can enjoy like the locals do.

Things to see and do in Alhambra include many events in the parks and neighborhoods of this gracious city. Halloween Haunts in October and the Tree Lighting Ceremony before Christmas are a few. During the summer months one of the best outdoor activities is the free summer concert series for all ages to enjoy. What a blast!

Roll back in time to the era in which Los Angeles was just growing and blossoming into one of the nation's largest cities, and you can imagine the Bean Tract subdivision of the 1940s (bordered by the highly affluent community of San Marino, home to Henry E. Huntington estate) as a really luxurious place to settle and raise a family. Alhambra even threatened to annex San Marino at one time, so the very small region formed its own municipality and instantly banned bars, gambling and apartment houses. You'll see none of those in San Marino today as you drive through the immaculate neighborhoods to enter the gates of Huntington Library & Gardens.

Bean Tract was not the only place to be. Midwick Tract (pronounced Middick) in the southwest Alhambra on the former Midwick Country Club grounds, the mid-century (1948 circa) homes had history and fame to back them. Midwick Country Club was a lavish, 208-acre golf club complete with polo, golf and tennis. Celebrities and socialites flocked to there in limousine caravans till the clubhouse burned down in 1944, and WWII impacted every aspect of life. Streets in Midwick are named for celebrity pros such as Sam Snead and Thomas Hitchcock, a renown polo player. Movies that have been filmed in the neighborhood include: The Adventures of Robin Hood in 1937, and The Bride Wore Boots in 1946.

The Airport Tract gets its name for the former Alhambra Airport, once the official shipping station of the Lockheed Company, flying in hundreds of bombers for disassembly and shipment to Great Britain during the UK's involvement with Germany during WWII. The 157-acre property is a time capsule of that era reflecting a hurried approach and need to create mass-produced homes for returning soldiers. Smaller single-story homes are what you will see when driving into this neighborhood. Newer wasn't always better or bigger, and similar such houses can be seen in Emery Park district of Alhambra.

You may visit Alhambra during a business trip to the area's commercial enterprises and corporate offices, or maybe you are heading for the world famous Rose Parade in Pasadena. You probably didn't realize that Alhambra has so much history and beauty to see, but if you happen to be driving along the 605 Freeway, do veer off the exit for Alhambra and spend some time checking out this walk or drive through memory lane.

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