Throwback Thursday | Oranges and Motorcycles

When San Gabriel Valley was nothing but fruit orchards, there was motorcycles

PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | News | Bill and his Indian, South Pasadena (1910)

During the late 1800s, the scent of orange blossoms fills San Gabriel Valley – until Southern California’s first real estate boom. Shortly thereafter, original storefronts are setback and dusty main streets are paved. As business districts spread, wood-planked buildings become brick and mortar. The fruit orchards are home sites.

During the bittersweet transition, bicycles become motorcycles and horse-drawn carriages become automobiles. Motor-powered vehicles consume our region like no other place in the world.

PHOTO: Pasadena Museum of History | News | City of South Pasadena (1899)

The scent of orange blossoms gives way to exhaust fumes.

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By the time Route 66 passes through the valley cities, orange groves have all but vanished. Except for one particular orchard at The Huntington that still produces the best homemade orange marmalade on the planet. You can find it at The Huntington Store.

PHOTO: Pasadena Museum of History | News | Pasadena Motorcycle Club (1910)

Throwback Thursday is written and produced by Rick Thomas


Rick Thomas
Author Rick Thomas is the former museum curator and vice-chair of education for the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation. He served on the South Pasadena Natural Resources Commission, helping to maintain a strict policy protecting the city’s great old-growth trees. Using touchstone photographs from his own collection—one of the San Gabriel Valley’s largest accumulations of historical images and artifacts—as well as national, state, and local historical archives, Thomas provides a window to his city’s past and an understanding of why its preservation is so important.