Pasadena City Hall

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Pasadena City Hall
Pasadena City Hall
LocationPasadena, California, U.S.
Coordinates34°8′51.52″N 118°8′37.83″W / 34.1476444°N 118.1438417°W / 34.1476444; -118.1438417Coordinates: 34°8′51.52″N 118°8′37.83″W / 34.1476444°N 118.1438417°W / 34.1476444; -118.1438417
Governing bodyCity of Pasadena
Pasadena City Hall
Pasadena City Hall is located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area
Pasadena City Hall
Pasadena City Hall is located in California
Pasadena City Hall
Pasadena City Hall is located in the United States
Pasadena City Hall
LocationPasadena, California
Part ofPasadena Civic Center District (#80000813[1])
Added to NRHPJuly 28, 1980

Pasadena City Hall, completed in 1927, serves as the central location for city government in the City of Pasadena, California and it is a significant architectural example of the City Beautiful movement of the 1920s.


In 1923, the people of Pasadena approved a bond measure issuing $3.5 million towards the development of a civic center. City Hall was to be the central element of this center. The San Francisco architecture firm of Bakewell and Brown designed City Hall, which has elements of both Mediterranean Revival Style and Spanish Colonial Revival Style architecture. It was completed on December 27, 1927 at a cost of $1.3 million. It measures 361 feet (110 m) by 242 feet (74 m), and rises 6 stories. There are over 235 rooms and passageways that cover over 170,000 square feet (16,000 m2). The defining dome, located above the west entrance, is 26 feet (7.9 m) tall and 54 feet (16 m) in diameter. On July 28, 1980 the Civic Center District, including Pasadena City Hall, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as listing #80000813.

Lit at night

Seismic retrofit[edit]

From a distance, Pasadena City Hall has always looked as though it has withstood the test of time. However, the building was showing signs of age by the late 20th century. The 1920s building did not meet modern building codes, and studies indicated that a major earthquake could destroy several parts of the building and likely result in a loss of life. The concrete walls had many deep cracks, and two of the stairway towers had considerable damage. There was also water damage from years of storms with little to no repair and maintenance. An effort to rehabilitate the aging building began in the late 1990s, led by Architectural Resources Group of San Francisco, California.

In July 2004, the building was vacated in order to allow for a complete overhaul of the structure. Over the course of three years, all offices and council chambers were renovated, the facade was restored, the building was adapted to meet ADA standards, HVAC systems were replaced and modernized, and new landscaping and architectural lighting was installed. To help ensure it would withstand future earthquake activity, the building was lifted off its foundation, equipped with structural base isolators and given a new foundation. The renovation of Pasadena City Hall earned a LEED Gold certification.[2]

Following construction, staff moved back starting in April 2007 and City Hall was fully operational again by July. At the time, the Los Angeles Times noted: "In a city where historic preservation is much like a civic obsession, City Hall has long been among the crown jewels of Pasadena, along with the Colorado Street Bridge, the Rose Bowl and the Gamble House. Although the renovation has been among the costliest public works projects in Pasadena, city officials decided that they couldn't risk losing the landmark in another quake."[3]

In popular culture[edit]

Pasadena City Hall building.jpg

The City Hall has long been a favorite shooting location for filmmakers. The courtyard was used in the 1995 movie "A Walk in the Clouds" to portray a Napa Valley town square. The building is in also featured in the 2005 film “Rumor Has It” directed by Rob Reiner. It has also been used as an embassy in the "Mission: Impossible" television series, and a villa in Charlie Chaplin's Oscar-nominated 1940 film "The Great Dictator."[3] The building also served as the city hall of fictional Pawnee, Indiana, in the television show Parks and Recreation. The dome is visible through the window of the main characters' apartment building in the television show The Big Bang Theory, set in Pasadena. The building featured in the last episode of Jericho; it was used as the City Hall of Cheyenne, Wyoming.

See also[edit]

Panorama of Pasadena City Hall and Garfield Ave.


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23.
  2. ^ City Hall Seismic Upgrade & Rehabilitation Project
  3. ^ a b Rasmussen, Cecilia (2007-05-06). "L.A. THEN AND NOW; One of Pasadena's architectural jewels gets a polishing; The 80-year-old City Hall gradually reopens after a three- year, $117-million renovation". Los Angeles Times.

External links[edit]