Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Swinging a Club along the Arroyo Seco

Walking along the Arroyo Seco the other day, I heard the 'whiff' sound that is music to those of us who are avid golfers.

While I often talk about restoring the Arroyo Seco, playing golf near the stream is one of many outdoor recreational reasons why I want this urban nature paradise to remain open and bucolic.

There are actually 2 golf courses along the Arroyo Seco: Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena next to the Rose Bowl, which is actually comprised of two courses (http://www.brookside.americangolf.com/) ; and the Arroyo Seco Golf Course (http://www.arroyoseco.com/), one of LA's top 10 par 3 courses, in South Pasadena.

What makes each of these courses special is that the Arroyo Seco runs through Brookside Golf Course, albeit in channelized form, while the Arroyo Seco Golf Course has a bubbling brook, a diversion of the nearby Arroyo Seco stream, running through it. What also makes them special is that both courses are public, open and accessible to everyone. In this post, we'll focus on the Arroyo Seco Golf Course.

One of the pleasures of the Arroyo Seco Golf Course is that since it is a Par 3 course, rank amateur golfers can play it without totally embarrassing themselves while more seasoned players can get in a quick game before or after work. In addition, the course features a miniature golf section for family fun, a large driving range and putting green.

Even if you are not a golfer, you will enjoy bringing your family to the 1950s era clubhouse and grill, where the kids can enjoy a burger and mom and dad can have an ice cold beer.

A short walk across the golf course's parking lot offers visitors a panoramic view of the Arroyo Seco, at one of its widest points south of Pasadena. Here the arroyo rock-lined stream offers southward vistas to and beyond the historic York Blvd. bridge, and northward vistas of the San Gabriel Mountains.

The Arroyo Seco Golf Course is part of South Pasadena's Arroyo Seco Park, which also includes equestrian trails, baseball diamonds, lighted tennis courts, and trails to the bucolic South Pasadena nature park along the Arroyo.

Directions: From the north: Arroyo Seco Parkway (Highway 110) south to York exit. Left at stop sign. Left onto York. Cross the bridge (stop and see the sights ~ see York Blvd. Bridge post). Left onto Arroyo Blvd. Look for Arroyo Seco Park sign on left. Left turn down into the park.

From the south: Arroyo Seco Parkways (Highway 110) north to Marmion Way/Avenue 64 exit. Take Avenue 64 to York Blvd.. Right on York. Cross the bridge and follow the remainder of the directions noted above.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Arroyo Seco's Rose Bowl Stadium: The Granddaddy of Them All

With the 2010 Rose Bowl Game now history and the BCS National Championship game just hours away, it seems fitting to spend a few minutes lauding the amazing Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena's Brookside Park, adjacent to the Arroyo Seco.

As an attendee at this year's Rose Bowl Game, I was reminded of the amazing sightlines from virtually any seat in the stadium (except the first 10 rows which are disappearing as part of a major stadium upgrade over the next few years).

While the Rose Bowl Operating Company, under the able leadership of Darryl Dunn, keeps a multitude of sports and entertainment events running smoothly year round, it is the stadium itself that fascinates me.

Most people don't realize that the Rose Bowl is both owned and operated by the City of Pasadena, a rarity in today's modern sports world. According to the Tournament of Roses history, Pasadena purchsed the 10 acre Arroyo Seco site where the stadium currents sits in 1897. Building of the stadium commenced in 1921 and the stadium, designed to be the 'official' home of the Rose Bowl Game, was dedicated on January 1, 1923.

Do you know which teams played in the first football game in the stadium? It was the University of California Bears versus the University of Southern California Trojans on October 22, 1922, the first of many north-south California college games.

Here are some more fun facts, courtesy of the Tournament of Roses organization:

The official seating capacity is 92,542.

The stadium is a National Historic Landmark and its design was based on the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut.

It sits at an elevation of 825 feet above sea level.

Its playing surface is natural turf comprised Bullseye Bermuda grass with rye, cut to 1/2 to 5/8 inch on game day.

There are 357 Musco light fixtures of high intensity, metal lark halide.

The stadium has an elliptical shape with a north-south configuration.

Legendary Architect Myron Hunt designed the stadium, which was built at a cost of $272,198.

Official Address: 1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena, California 91103

You don't have to be a sports fan to love the Rose Bowl. It's worth a trip to Pasadena to just experience this magnificent work of living history. Be sure to wear your walking shoes so you can enjoy all that Brookside Park has to offer, including the public Brookside Golf Course and bucolic walking and equestrian trails along the beautiful Arroyo Seco stream.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Bridges of the Arroyo Seco ~ One in a Series: York Blvd. Bridge

Thousands of people drive over it each day, yet few know and appreciate the history and grandeur of Los Angeles' York Blvd. Bridge, which traverses the Arroyo Seco River between South Pasadena and the community of Highland Park/Garvanza.

Built in 1890 initially as a wooden trolley bridge, the York Blvd. Bridge received its concrete arch structure in 1912.

With a total length of 683.1 feet, the York Blvd. Bridge welcomes walkers on its sidewalk and heavy bicycle and motorized traffic along its two opposing lanes.

Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, the York Blvd. Bridge's largest span reaches 96.1 feet in a closed spandrel arch design.

Much of the bridge's charm, however, is not merely its majestic clean design line span but rather its spectacular vistas of the natural beauty of the original home of Arroyo Culture.

Stand on the bridge looking northward and one is rewarded with panoramic views of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains, snow-capped in winter months.

Stand on the bridge facing southward and it's easy to imagine how idyllic the beautiful Arroyo Seco looked before its concrete channelization in the 1930s.

Like all older spans in Los Angeles, however, the York Blvd. Bridge faces an uncertain future. While its substructure condition rating is good, its superstructure rating and deck condition are poor and the bridge itself is considered 'functionally obsolete' under current state transportation construction rules.

Yet, comparing the historic turn of the 20th Century photo (below) showing the original trolley bridge facing southward (Photo Courtesy of Los Angeles Library) surprisingly indicates how the Arroyo Seco meanders today just as it did a century ago.

The bridge in the upper right of this old photo is the historic train trestle which today still carries passengers across it on the Gold Line light rail system.

Of course, the York Blvd. Bridge offers a different view at the Arroyo Seco Parkway level; yet, even while whizzing down the freeway, it is easy to be captivated by its grand archways and elegant, yet simple design.

Built for another era, the York Blvd. Bridge has passed the test of time to offer Angelinos and visitors a free sweeping view of the Arroyo Seco river canyon, if they would just get out of their cars for a few minutes and walk along its magnificent open span.