If COVID-19 has you feeling a little stir-crazy, a “drive yourself” tour around some of Pasadena’s notable filming locations might just be the ticket to chase away the pandemic blues.
The Colorado Street Bridge is a noticeable vista thanks to its distinctive Beaux-Arts arches, light standards, and railings. Designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, the bridge opened in 1913 and made its first major appearance in Charlie Chaplin’s “The Kid.” In recent years, Jim Carrey jumped off the bridge while attached to a bungee line in “Yes Man,” and Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone took a stroll on the bridge in “La La Land.”
From the Colorado Street Bridge, head north on Orange Grove Boulevard until you reach Walnut Street, where you’ll find the Fenyes Mansion and Pasadena Museum of History (470 W. Walnut St.), seen in the 1979 movie “Being There.” Completed around 1907, the Beaux-Arts style building was the first Finnish Consul in Southern California, which is why Finland’s flag flies alongside the American flag.
At 4 Westmoreland Pl., you’ll see the 1908 Arts and Crafts-style Gamble House that was used as Doc Brown’s residence in “Back to the Future.” Overlooking the Arroyo Seco’s dry river bed, the Gamble House appears to be entangled with the natural landscape and features strong Japanese architecture.
Head east onto Walnut Street to the Pasadena Central Library (285 E. Walnut St.). The Mediterranean-style building has been featured in a wide variety of movies and TV shows over the years, including “Legally Blonde,” “Ghost Whisperer,” and “Hung.”
Just a couple blocks south is the iconic Pasadena City Hall (100 Garfield Ave.), which was completed in 1927. The influence of early Renaissance style by 16th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio is apparent in a rectangular edifice with a spacious court. From Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” to “The Net” and “A Walk in the Clouds,” it has often stood in for other city halls, including Pawnee on “Parks and Recreation.”
On the other side of the street is All Saints Church (132 N. Euclid Ave.), a filming location for “Legally Blonde,” “Cruel Intentions,” and Clint Eastwood’s “Changeling.” The English Gothic-style building also features a parish hall, rectory, and an integrated courtyard.
In Old Town Pasadena, Castle Green Apartments (99 S. Raymond Ave.) have been featured as a casino in “The Sting,” a hotel in “Bugsy,” and as a mansion in “The Man Who Wasn’t There.”
Just around the corner you will see the Pasadena Civic Auditorium (300 E. Green St.), which has hosted the Emmy Awards and “America’s Got Talent” in its 3,000-seat theater. The historic exterior, inspired by Mediterranean Revival architecture, has been featured on numerous TV shows such as “Alias,” “Penny Dreadful,” and “Scandal.” The Auditorium is part of the Pasadena Civic Center District—the site of many conferences, events, and the Pasadena Ice Skating Center.
For a complete guide to local filming locations, visit pasadenamag.com.