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Pasadena CA parking lot with 1930s and 1940s cars

Seen on the Streets and Parking Lots of Pasadena, California

According to the information, with the lead photograph we are looking at the back side of the Broadway department store in Pasadena. Of interest is the 20-cent an hour Auto Parks System lot filled with prewar cars, but there also appears to be a postwar Studebaker and a Packard in the mix. Tell us what you see that is notable.


What caught our eye here was the three-tone paint scheme on the Diamond T rescue truck. The dark lower color on both the front fender and the skirted rear one and turns both into a pleasing wave-like form. Note the front-opening doors and the uniquely shaped steps that blend in quite well. Can any of our readers tell us who was the stylist of this Pasadena Fire Department rescue truck? The photo is dated 1939.


This interesting two-door sedan with low slung front fenders, headlamps and a Marmon-like radiator shape was built by an unknown maker. Behind it at the corner of E. Colorado and Catalina is a De Luxe Gasoline station. In the background in this 1927 photo is the Colorado Theatre that has survived as the Regency Academy Theatre. Let us know if you can identify the sedan.

The photos are courtesy of the Pasadena Digital History Collaboration

9 responses to “Seen on the Streets and Parking Lots of Pasadena, California

  1. According to one site, the top pic is looking east towards Los Robles Ave. and the building straight ahead is the flamboyant “Grace Nicholson” building, circa, 1948. The Packard is a ’48-’50 Woodie wagon.
    The Diamond T is a ’37-’39, I believe. The top “Diamond T” badge is missing above the grill. I wonder if this was one of Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky’s creations? Did a lot of Diamond T stuff. ( streamlined tankers and tractor trailers)

    • Howard, you’re right that the Packard is 1948-50, but it’s a regular sedan, not a wagon. The image is deceptive since it shows only a small part of the side window. The sedans had fairly thin bright moldings around the windows; the wagons had much thicker wood framing.

  2. The building with the ornate roof in the first photo houses the Pacific/Asia museum. The building to the right which front’s on Colorado Blvd used to house the Pasadena Star News. It probably housed a bank & offices at one time. The Broadway Dept. Store is no more & the building is gone. I have been in it many times as well as that parking lot. I see a 37 Olds coupe & a 46 Chevrolet parked on the right side of the photo.

      • The Stephens is either a 1923 or 24 model. A new radiator shell and emblem, which resembled a lightning bolt, was introduced in 1923. The company ceased making automobiles the following year and went back to manufacturing farm equipment. The front bumper is probably an add-on accessory, but it looks quite stylish on this very rare make.

  3. That Olds coupe is a 1938 six not a ’37. Is that a circa 1939 Cadillac Sixty Special, the black car partly obscured by part of the building?

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