Pasadena, California, Was Born in Indiana During the Cold, Damp Winter of 1872

The Midwesterners Who Founded the ‘Crown City’ Were Seeking a Colony Where Their Lungs Could Heal

In May 1872, after suffering through another extremely cold, damp winter, a group of 150 middle-class neighbors from Indianapolis, Indiana, decided to leave home. The group included lawyers, doctors, journalists, and teachers, many of whom were looking for a more equable climate to alleviate ailments from asthma to tuberculosis. Led by Thomas Balch Elliott, a former Army surgeon and prominent businessman, the neighbors pooled their resources and hired Elliott’s brother-in-law Daniel Berry to go west and find land for a colony.

This is the story of that colony, and how it …

L.A.’s Revelatory Light Rail for Nerds

The Gold Line Has Become a Brain Train, Linking Educational Institutions From Pasadena to East L.A.

My train line is smarter than your train line.

I’m a regular rider of “The Brain Train,” officially known as the Gold Line on the L.A. Metro system. The Gold …

My Hometown’s Rush to Honor Obama Says More About Us Than Him

We're Fawning Over the Outgoing President—But the Feeling Isn't Mutual

I recently learned that, in the second grade, I was part of presidential history.

Every morning during the 1980-1981 school year, I walked the five blocks between my family’s home in …

California Should Be More Like the Rose Parade

The State’s Greatest Public Event Delivers Every Year—Which Is More Than You Can Say for Sacramento

Sometimes I wish the state of California were run more like the Rose Parade.

It’s not just how nice it’d be to have all the surfaces in Capitol offices covered in …

I Dish Out the Food Your Supermarket Can’t Use

My Neighbors Were Going Hungry, So I Got My Local Trader Joe’s to Donate Carloads of Groceries

In the spring of 2009, my teenage daughter and I attended a memorial service in Pasadena, California, followed by a family-style luncheon. After the service, the retired clergyman who had …

What Raymond Chandler Didn’t Understand About L.A.

His Southern California Was About the Darkness Under the Glitz. Mine Is About the Smell of Smog Mixed With Sea, the Gardeners of the San Gabriel Valley, and the Neighborhoods Philip Marlowe Ignored.

I have to make the kind of confession that is just terrible for an L.A.-based mystery writer: I am not a fan of Raymond Chandler. He has set a tone …