Friday, March 28, 2008

Eaton Canyon Area Development - 1967 Plan

The vision for an "eastern arroyo" of park and open space space resurfaced in the 60's. This plan was recommended by landscape architect David Wedgwood and approved in 1967 by Pasadena's Director of Parks, Robert Townsend. It is a wonderful piece of work. I encourage you to click on the map and then use your zoom feature to see the plan's detail. I think you'll be surprised.

The plan projected many new recreational features and trails from New York Drive all the way to the city's southern border. Let's take a section-by-section look:

Eaton Wash Reservoir and Dam. The plan shows the Eaton Canyon stream running under New York Drive and emptying into the reservoir area as it does today. However, the plan for the reservoir is dramatically different. It calls for five separate, but interconnected, bodies of water that would be part of a migratory wild bird preserve.

South of the Dam to Sierra Madre Blvd. Under the plan, the wild bird preserve continues south of the dam to four more separate but interconnected ponds. The plan shows an unchanneled stream running down to Sierra Madre Blvd.

Trail System. The plan calls for an extensive trial system over the entire plan area. Trails extend south from Eaton Canyon Park and nature center, and under New York Dr. into the reservoir area. Trails curve around the reservoir and ponds between New York and Sierra Madre Blvd. and then had south under Sierra Madre Blvd. The trails then run alongside the wash or the Edison right of way all the way to San Pasqual St. As planned, the trail system would accommodate hikers and bikers. A bridal path is also shown.

Edison Right of Way. The plan suggests a lease of the Edison right of way for "landscaped open space, trails, play areas and extension of proposed facilities."

South of Sierra Madre Blvd. to below Orange Grove Blvd. The plan calls for a three par golf course in this area.

South of Orange Grove to the 210. The plan calls for an assemblage of new recreational venues including an ice rink, outdoor skating rink, amphitheater, and pet farm. It also proposed to relocate the Gerrish Swim Club to this area.
210 south to Colorado. The bridle trail, hiking and biking trail continues under the freeway and down past Colorado Blvd. following the Eaton Wash channel.

Colorado south to San Pasqual. The trails continue south along the Eaton Wash channel to the city's southern border. The Edison right of way is landscaped open space. An area around Ability First is shown devoted to Senior Citizen use with shuffleboard, horseshoes and a putting green. The area around what is now the Eaton Blanche park is shown as an active park. An overnight group camp is shown on the east side of the wash from Eaton Blanche park. The hiking and biking trail is shown extending south beyond the city limits following the wash and Edison right of way.

Like the1932 plan, this plan never caught on. Since 1967, some of the planned area has been set aside for parks. Other parts of the plan area have been developed into housing and office use. A large area east of Washington is in use by Los Angeles County DPW, which controls the Eaton Wash Dam.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Eaton Canyon Park -- 1932 Plan

After a really long time, 1932 and 1967 plans for an Eaton Canyon/Wash park are getting some well deserved attention. This is the 1932 plan reprinted from Pasadena's park master plan the council approved last year. You may not recognize many of the streets and proposed streets on the plan. To get oriented, it helps to find Orange Grove Blvd. or the then-planned Eaton Wash Reservoir and work out from there.

The gist of the 1932 plan was simple -- to reserve the areas around the reservoir, the Eaton Wash and Edison right of way as open space and to build a scenic roadway starting at the dam and running south to San Pasqual. However, the plan never caught on.

The following gives some background to the '32 and '67 plans and is from the city's Green Space, Recreation and Park Element and Master Plan:

“A system of channels, roads, dams, recharge basins and other flood control infrastructure bisects the eastern area of the city. In 1932 the potential use of these areas for recreation was documented in a plan entitled "Eaton Canyon Park". This plan proposed a system of park areas extending from the mouth of the canyon to the southern City limit. These areas were to form a continuous band of open space areas, similar to the Arroyo Seco, albeit on a much smaller scale.

In December 1967, Ronald B. Townsend, the City’s Director of Parks, approved a plan entitled "Eaton Canyon Area Development". This plan also proposed an interconnected system of parks and open space areas along the Eaton Canyon drainage. The proposed improvements were laid out in great detail and connections with the city’s existing park facilities, such as Victory Park and Eaton-Blanche Park, were included. This Master Plan revisits this concept and offers recommendations for implementation measures that would fulfill a portion of the vision that was expressed in the 1932 and 1967 plans.”

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

St. Luke's -- Proposed Development

This picture was taken from behind St. Luke's looking north to the mountains. The hospital fronts Washington Street. Across Washington to the north is the Eaton Wash Reservoir.

At a neighborhood meeting on March 19, developer DS Ventures presented its proposal to build senior housing and medical offices on the St. Luke's site. Pasadena Now's report of the encounter is here.

In later posts, I may talk more about the developer's proposal, its treatment of the landmark St. Luke's buildings (interior and exterior), consistency with the Pasadena General Plan, impacts on traffic and views, and emergency and urgent care issues.

But, let's take a moment to look at this property, its landmark status and its traditional use in service to surrounding communities.

Certainly the St. Luke's buildings are architecturally significant. St. Luke's was one of the first buildings in East Pasadena to be declared a city landmark. In context of the East Pasadena community, which was largely built over the last fifty years, St. Luke's art deco facade stands out as perhaps the most impressive historic structure in this area.

But, the property is also significant because of its long-time use to serve the East Pasadena and Altadena communities. When the Sisters of St. Joseph opened St. Luke's in 1933, it was one of the San Gabriel Valley's first hospitals. As homes were built and the area grew, St. Luke's was there to serve the community's medical needs. The hospital use continued for nearly 70 years until it was closed down in 2002.

Among the many things I like about St. Luke's is the northward face of the hospital buildings. The front of the hospital faces north looking toward the Eaton Wash, Eaton Canyon and the San Gabriel Mountains.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

St. Luke's

In 2002, Pasadena City Council declared St. Luke's Hospital, the convent and the chapel as city landmarks. The hospital was built in 1933. In 1947, the chapel and convent were added immediately to the east of the hospital building. This photo, taken from inside the chapel, shows one of the beautiful stained glass windows that line the chapel. The artistry in the stained glass and the plaster relief is spectacular. You have to click the photo to really see the work.

Last year, the St. Luke's property was sold to developer DS Ventures. Pasadena Heritage has placed St. Luke's on its endangered list and has noted concerns about how the developer will treat the landmark buildings.

Unfortunately, landmark protections do not extend to interior features.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Eaton Wash

During rainy times, like this January, Eaton Wash is a wonderful rushing stream. This picture seems out of place in southern California -- and so all the more beautiful. I took this picture a short walk from the Eaton Canyon Nature Center just north of New York Drive. From here, the wash flows south under the bridge at New York Drive and into Eaton Wash Reservoir.
We walked up and down the stream until my agile ten year found a spot where he could scramble across the stream. Once he was on the other side, we had to shout to be hear each other over the crash of the water.