The San Gabriel Valley (Spanish: Valle de San Gabriel) derives its name from the San Gabriel River which got its name from the Spanish Mission San Gabriel Arcángel (est. 1771).
In 1886, Pasadena became the first independent incorporated city. Today, the valley has thirty-one cities with a population of well over 1.5 million. The population of San Gabriel Valley is greater now than the entire population of California at the turn of the century (1900).
Going back in time a mere three centuries, and everything we associate with our valley vanishes. No major structures. No motorized vehicles or paved roads. No Victorian ranch houses, craftsman bungalows, Spanish-style or mid-century homes – no neighborhood tree-lined streets.
Only small villages inhabited by the Tongva Indians existed back then.
Imagine that for a moment: all we know is missing. Electricity. Computer games, television, radio, and internet. Modern conveniences such as air conditioning, microwave ovens, and iPhones. Motion pictures. Netflix, Google, and Amazon Prime. Lakers and Clippers basketball. Lambs (in mean, Rams football). Angeles and Dodgers baseball. No Vince Scully?!
The first Europeans to visit California entered San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542 (Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo).
Today, if you stood next to South Pasadena’s water tower, you will see a rather striking visual feature that has endured for thousands of years. It predates our arrival and the massive urban terraform that followed.
Once named Sierra Madres, it stands tall and proud as a timeless sentinel of the valley. The San Gabriel Mountains is witness to nearly two million humans moving in and will remain long after the Zombie Apocalypse has moved them out (which I reckon is just around the bend).
Throwback Thursday is written and produced by Rick Thomas