Pasadena since 1970
The American Academy of Dramatic Arts founded in 1884 in New York, opened its Pasadena campus in 1974. However, in 2001 the conservatory moved from Pasadena to Hollywood. Training actors for the stage in a two year program, the conservatory was the first school in the United States to offer professional education in the field of acting. Point Loma Nazarene University was located in Pasadena for many years before moving to San Diego County, and held the both the names of Pasadena University and Pasadena College.
In 1969, the Pasadena Unified School District was desegregated, though the issue would continue to be fought in court for a decade. A year later, the 210 Freeway was built along a newly chosen route. The freeway’s construction was controversial, as it caused the demolition of over a thousand homes, many historic, and many claimed that the route was designed to cut off the city’s less wealthy neighborhoods.
The situation did not improve. Downtown Pasadena became dangerous in some parts and deserted in others, and incidences of murder and arson skyrocketed. Old Pasadena faced destruction as plans for new high-rise developments were drawn up, though they were mostly stopped by increasingly active preservation advocates. Pasadena suffered demographically as many residents decamped for the nearby suburbs or the Inland Empire, causing an overall decrease in population. Despite these setbacks, many local artists and hipsters moved in to take advantage of low property values. Their legacy can be seen today in the Doo Dah Parade which began in 1976.
The 1970s also saw the meteoric rise of gang violence in Pasadena, a trend which culminated with the 1993 Halloween Massacre, wherein three teenagers were murdered by members of the Bloods and three more were wounded. This led the Pasadena Police Department to crack down far more heavily on gang activity, which receded in the mid-1990s.
In the early 2000s, several civic beautification campaigns began in earnest and many traditionally impoverished neighborhoods began gentrifying. The 2003 opening of the Los Angeles County Metro‘s Gold Line reopened Pasadena for rail rapid transit for the first time since 1951, and high-density condominiums began to pop up in the major business districts, leading to a major population increase. However, Pasadena’s development has stalled due to the late 2000s Recession, although much needed Seismic retrofitting was completed on the City Hall building in summer 2007. It was closed in July 2004 because of safety concerns and construction began in March 2005.