|View from the Green House at Zorthian Ranch,|
overlooking Altadena, Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles
Sunday afternoon I had the pleasure of attending a "My City in Your City" brunch presented by architect David Wolf. As was appropriate for the subject, the event was held in the foothills overlooking Altadena and Pasadena.
Wolf related the story of "My City," a 1916 exhibit in Pasadena designed to secure public input for future plans for the city. The exhibit ran for six weeks and was attended by more than 8,000 people. Quite a turnout considering the entire city population back then was about 40,000.
Mr. Wolf's presentation is entertaining, educational, insightful and inspiring. He has reached back in Pasadena history, found greatness, and brought it forward for our use today. There is a lot to take away from the My City story. More information is at the My City website and Facebook.
The presentation reminded me of just how highly residents of a century ago regarded this city and how lofty were their ambitions. Materials included a 1916 Pasadena Star News article describing the My City effort. The Star News writer, Henry James, refers to Pasadena as "one of the beauty spots of the continent" and goes on to describe the My City experience as one that will "obtain the cooperation of the citizens in choosing the best out of the good; in deciding what shall be done first and of proving to them that it is within their power to do anything they please."
I was also reminded of "Imagine a Great City," which was the theme for public meetings in the early 1990's which led to the 1994 Pasadena General Plan. As a relative newcomer to Pasadena, I was taken by the theme -- it invited creativity and communicated a public spirit, enthusiasm and expectation that we could help make Pasadena that great city. Maybe it wouldn't work in other cities. Others might aspire to be good cities or nice cities. But, with it's beautiful natural setting, its neighborhoods, trees, Civic Center, remarkable history, and past example of reaching for lofty goals, it seemed fitting that Pasadena would aspire to be a great city.