One of the trendier areas of Pasadena, CA is unarguable the South Lake Avenue District. Lake Avenue is a beautiful tree-lined street that features 10 blocks of top retailers, smaller boutiques and fantastic restaurants. It is also the heart of Pasadena's financial district.
South Lake Avenue District runs from Colorado Blvd to the North, to California to the South, Hudson Avenue to the West and Mentor Avenue to the East.
The history of South Lake district dates back to 1947 when Bullock's (now Macy's) opened its doors. Prior to that, this was a residential neighborhood with homes lining both sides of the street. "The Store of Tomorrow" as Bullock's was called was designed by a renowned architect Welton Becket. His goal was to create unity both "inside" as well as the "outside" of the building and to achieve an atmosphere of a "home" or an "exclusive country club".
The elegance and prestige of Bullock's opened the door to further development of upscale shops and boutiques, as well as national retailers and restaurants. In the 1950s, South Lake Avenue gained fame as one of Southern California's most exclusive shopping areas. There's a courtyard behind Williams Sonoma that features working London-style phone booths and complement the district's predominately European style.
Today, the stores include Macy's, Border's Books & Music, Williams Sonoma, Ann Taylor, Talbot's, Anthropologie, Gymboree, Abercrombie Bartholomew to name just a few. Trader Joe's (which is a necessity for me!), numerous electronics & music stores and fabulous restaurants make this area a pleasure to visit.
The financial district began developing in the early 1960s and continued its growth through the 70s and 80s. This brought many professionals and the thirty something crowd. Streets are full of people and the sidewalk cafe and bakeries like Wheatberry's are thriving.
By the way, if you haven't been to Wheatberry's, you absolutely have to give them a try. The pastries are delicious and their croissants are better than the ones I had in Paris last year. They serve breakfast, lunch and an assortment of baked goods and cakes. UPDATE - September 2008: Drove by Wheatberry's and saw that they're out of business.
Pasadena's Visitors and Convention Bureau, as well as www.SouthLakeAvenue.com have additional historical information about South Lake Avenue if you are interested.
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