Pasadena sits on an alluvial fan, deposited by stream systems, which eroded the
bedrock of the San Gabriel Mountains to the north. The primary stream was carved
out of a great gorge called the Arroyo Seco. Nature lovers and sports
enthusiasts are drawn to the area, which has become a popular recreation area.
The Arroyo is home to the famous Rose Bowl, Brookside Golf Course and other
In Pasadena's early days the Arroyo Seco was a pleasant village with orchards of
walnuts, olives and citrus trees. Because of its magnificent scenery and balmy
climate it became a favorite spot for hiking, fishing and hunting. In 1903,
President Theodore Roosevelt declared his support for the movement to keep the
Arroyo Seco a natural park. However, when the necessary bond issue failed to
pass, many of Pasadena's wealthy citizens acquired the remaining land options.
Many of these wealthy residents built magnificent mansions that still fill the
hills of the Arroyo Seco today.
Before the historic Colorado Street Bridge was built in 1913, crossing the
Arroyo Seco was an arduous task. Horses and wagons descended the steep eastern
slope, crossed the stream over a smaller bridge, and then climbed up the west
bank through Eagle Rock Pass. The graceful curves of the Colorado Street Bridge
resulted from difficulties in finding solid footing in the Arroyo bed. Engineer
John Drake Mercereau conceived the idea of curving the bridge, thereby creating
a work of art. The bridge stands 150 feet high and extends 1,468 feet. The
overpass was closed in 1989 after engineers declared it structurally weak. Every
inch of its silhouette was retained and the bridge was reopened in 1994
following a $27.4 million renovation.
In 1922 the world-famous Rose Bowl was completed in an area of the Arroyo Seco
designated as Brookside Park. Covering 61.1 acres, Brookside is Pasadena's
largest park. In addition to the Rose Bowl, the park also includes Brookside
Golf Course and the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center. The Rose Bowl has been the site
of major sporting events including five Super Bowls and the 1994 World Cup
Soccer Championships. The Rose Bowl hosts the annual Rose Bowl Game and UCLA
football home games.
Adjacent to the Rose Bowl lies lush Brookside Golf Course with its two 18-hole
championship courses. The Rose Bowl Aquatics Center houses two 50-meter pools
and is the host facility for premier local, national and international swimming,
diving and water polo events. Lessons for the public are offered. Kidspace
Children's Museum is a one-of-a-kind museum that features 20 interactive
exhibits and two acres of gardens, waterways and outdoor learning environments.
The museum opened in the Arroyo Seco in December 2004. Moreover, Brookside Park
contains picnic accommodations, five lighted tennis courts, four badminton
courts, two handball courts, two lighted softball diamonds, six lighted
horseshoe courts, archery, casting and lawn bowling facilities. The park's
regulation baseball diamond, the Jackie Robinson Stadium, has grandstand seating
for 4,200 people, team rooms, showers and lockers.