Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's Positively Prophetic

One of my favorite local history books is the 565-page "Pasadena, California, Historical and Personal: A Complete History of the Organization of the Indiana Colony" by early Pasadena historian and newspaperman J.W. Wood, published in 1917.

The subtitle is "Its Establishment on the Rancho San Pascual and Its Evolution into the City of Pasadena, Including a Brief Story of San Gabriel Mission, the Story of the Boom and Its Aftermath, and the Political Changes and Personages Involved in this Transformation. Churches, Societies, Homes, etc. Brought Down to Date and Fully Illustrated."

I encourage you to visit the book (there are several copies) in the Centennial Room at Pasadena Central Library. You can't check it out and take it home, but why would you want to when that wonderful room beckons you to sit down and stay awhile?

I love every single page of this detailed, fascinating book, but I want to share with you the final passage titled "A Prognosis."

Remember, this was in 1917:

But of the future? It may require no prophetic vision to see it. Invention and genius, well applied, will confer their magic, and we can in our horoscope, discern clearly a rehabilitation that will give to this community a new fame. There will be no trolleys nor tracks to impede traffic or mar the landscape; no unsightly poles to create objurgations. A great city will fill the valley and the foothills, from Altadena to Los Angeles, and there will be one ambition besetting its inhabitants -- that it will be the best of all cities! Noisy trolley cars and nerve-wrecking gasoline autos will be replaced with a wonderful new motive power vehicle -- an invention by a genius educated at Throop. A new library, a new Parthenon, will rear its classic walls above a grassy Acropolis. Within its doors endless stacks of books will lure the reader from far and wide, and in it the student will have his cozy corner to browse at his content. A city hall of splendid architecture will adorn the proper spot and cause the citizen to glow with pride at its mention. In one of the parks will be a heroic bronze representing, in allegory, the Pioneer and the things he wrought. A casino, the forum where civic affairs are discussed by the citizens, and where the city band of forty-eight pieces will play each day, will be an accomplished fact -- at last! Children's playgrounds everywhere; public baths in various convenient sections in the city will add to the good cheer of the people, and there will be citizens filled with wisdom -- the wise men of the town -- who will be ready at all times to devote their spare time to the betterment of the community -- men whose highest aim is patriotism and civic pride. Colorado Street will become the real Via Crucis and Appian Way of a better age, and there bazaars of trade and the rounds of fashion will call the men and women in daily parade -- bent upon errands of business and display of styles. There will be a municipal theater where talent of the highest will tempt both wise men and busy women to relaxation and enjoyment and fortify them for sterner duties.

The coming New Zealander (or New Englander) who will pause, leaning upon the parapet of the Colorado Street bridge, will gaze with eager appreciation upon a city throbbing with joyous existence -- the epitome of civic problems wrought to happy conclusion, and a citizenry filled with purposeful ideals. And thus the dreams of the civic idealist will have been accomplished! So mote it be!

Many thanks to Pasadena Public Library for use of the Centennial Room photo.


Petrea said...

We could put this in list form and check off quite a few.
So mote it be! As soon as we get the telephone wires out of my back yard, I'll deem it nearly done! (Oh. Is it up to me?)

Cafe Pasadena said...

From The Prognosis I get:

√Men: Wise
√Women: Busy with Fashion
√I need to be left alone to browse the library in contentment.
√Traffic has not been impeded.
√Citihall is actually a Casino; that doesn't surprise me.
(Q: Where are the Public Baths?)

√And, last but not least: Pasadena is The Best & Greatest in the region.

√Ann, you're The best & greatest Public Intelligence Officer in the region!

Petrea said...

I don't think the public baths are going to happen, do you, Cafe?

Cafe Pasadena said...

I guess we don't have enuf homeless yet 4 that, P.

altadenahiker said...

My kind of book. I'll take a visit.