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The building is no longer a train station; the Santa Fe hasn’t come through Pasadena for two decades.
Now called the Castle Green, the main hotel is long gone, but the 1898-built annex remains, converted to apartments and condos.Walk by it, past the “Bridge of Sighs” that once connected the annex to the main hotel, then continue to Colorado Boulevard and “Old Pasadena,” where most of the buildings date from around the turn of the last century.The façades are more modern, though, dating from 1929, when the street was widened and the original fronts replaced.It’s an incredible example of historic revitalization—and a lively, vibrant street scene.With its mild climate and heady foliage, Pasadena has long enchanted visitors.Turn-of-the-century travel literature called the area “a Mediterranean wonderland,” and the mountain peaks, rising above the town, were said to evoke the Swiss Alps.
A funicular railroad that took travelers to an “Alpine Tavern” advertised itself as connecting “Switzerland and Italy…From Roses and Orange Groves to Snow in Two Hours’ Time.”Because this is Southern California, land of orange blossoms and freeways, a tour of the area can’t be done without a car.But only on foot will you understand the joy of Pasadena: the coolness beneath the tree-canopied streets; the sweet scent of roses blooming in bungalow front yards; the quiet, inventive artistry of Greene & Greene houses overlooking the Arroyo.Plan to park and walk: Pasadena needs to be experienced as it was a hundred years ago, before cars and freeways overtook our lives.Start at the old Santa Fe train station on South Raymond.The 1930s Spanish Colonial Revival building really speaks to what Southern California was about: the romance of the Missions, the exoticism early tourists found in the Mexican adobes.Stand in front of the former station and imagine what it was like arriving in the Southlands a hundred years ago, leaving Midwest snow and sleet behind to face the soft sunshine and swaying palm trees.