I ALWAYS think of Alhambra as a pass-through; particularly that leg of Garfield that takes me across San Gabriel Valley. However, most recently it’s where I am now frequently called for jury duty rather than that traffic-snagged hike to downtown L.A.

The last time I was called for a trial that I knew they wouldn’t let me serve (for me being a journalist always seems to be a durable excuse), I was able instead to go wandering around with an attorney from our prospective juror pool, who also later would be excused. During this lunchtime ramble, I was taken by the beautiful modest homes we walked by — a striking collection of houses that seemed hardly touched in not just decades but a century.

I never knew that the city of Alhambra is named after Washington Irving’s Tales of the Alhambra not Alhambra, Spain. Which translates, from Arabic literally as, “the red one.”

As it turns out, Alhambra was once promoted by the region’s boosters as a “city of homes,” many of which are historic and protected as such.

Typical Southern California styles abound — according to Wikipedia: “Craftsman, Bungalow, Spanish Mediterranean, Spanish Colonial, Italian Beaux-Arts, and Arts & Crafts. Several residential areas have been designated as Historic Neighborhoods by the city, including the Bean Tract (formerly owned by early resident Jacob Bean), the Midwick Tract (site of the former Midwick Country Club), the Airport Tract (formerly the landing pad for Alhambra Airport)”

It’s a small but deeply re-calibrating dose of genteel L.A.


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