Endures the Depression and War: 1930-1950
The Depression signaled the end of an era for
Pasadena, disrupting its tourist economy which never resumed at its previous level. The
number of industrial establishments, which numbered only 159 in 1929, decreased even
further to 83 in 1933. In 1930, the city population was 76,086. Ten years later it had
increased by less than 8% to 81,864. Despite this, a 1939 study conducted by Dr. Edward
Thorndike of Columbia University on the general goodness of life in U.S. cities rated
Pasadena as the best city of all in which to live.
World War II ushered in a turnabout, and set
Pasadena on the path to modern industrial growth. During the war, hotels in Pasadena were
used as military command headquarters. The Vista del Arroyo Hotel was purchased by the
Army and became a convalescent hospital for the wounded. Led by Caltech and the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, which became focal points of research and development for the
war effort, Pasadena evolved into a center for industrial research and light manufacture
of scientific and electronic precision instruments. By 1954 there were 394 industrial
establishments in Pasadena.
The completion in 1940 of the Arroyo Seco Parkway, the first freeway in the west, provided
a fast and direct route from Pasadena to Los Angeles. Pasadena became an attractive place
to live for people working in industrial areas in Los Angeles. In the postwar boom,
newcomers flocked to Pasadena.