The Pasadena Civic Center is an outgrowth of the turn of the 20th century City Beautiful movement. It features broad, tree-shaded streets and touring the stately structures there, one can sense the spirit of a more genteel time. The center was developed in the 1920s.
In keeping with the movement’s preference for classical styling in the Beaux Arts tradition, the design called for a major east-west axis along Holly Street and a minor north-south axis along Garfield Avenue. The ends of the axes would be closed with prominent public structures focusing in on a center marked by an imposing city hall. The imposing city hall building is a marvelous Beaux Arts rendition of a Mediterranean-style mansion, topped like a wedding cake with a Spanish Baroque dome. Other structures include the nicely detailed Spanish Renaissance-style public library and the post office, an Italian Renaissance style building.
In keeping with the center plan, the Italian Renaissance-style civic auditorium was sited as the south anchor of the Garfield Avenue axis, with the north anchor the library. The YWCA building, by Julia Morgan will be recycled as a boutique hotel.
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