The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden is located in Arcadia across the street from the Santa Anita race track at 301 N Baldwin Ave. The street is named after the area’s premier developer, Lucky Baldwin who was so instrumental in the development of locales in Southern California including Baldwin Hills, and Baldwin Park. Arcadia was incorporated by Baldwin in part because it would allow the sale of alcoholic beverages when Pasadena prohibited them. The area at one time was owned by a number of prominent Southern Californians including Harris Newmark. In 1949 about 111 acres were set aside to establish green houses and botanic gardens to display the abundant flora of the area and the world. It was first opened to the public in 1956. It has a Queen Anne cottage and carriage house and a broad range of gardens to enjoy and explore. It is now owned and operated by Los Angeles County. Numerous movies have benefited from the locale which would include these: Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Bridesmaids; Wayne’s World; Marathon Man; and The Women. Part of the early attraction of the area was the abundant water from local springs which helped the lush landscape and brought the native Americans particularly the Tongvas to establish villages as well as the Padres who created the nearby San Gabriel Mission.

By Michael Harris

If you enjoy reading these vignettes each month, you may want to check out my father-in-law’s book, Westside Stories. It’s a memoir/history of growing up on the Westside of Los Angeles in the 1940s and 1950s with great photos, anecdotes and stories. Perfect for the history buff/enthusiast in your family! It’s available for purchase at