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San Marino City


San Marino City Hall is located at 2200 Huntington Drive, San Marino, CA 91108; phone: 626-300-0700.

Beginnings [1]

The City of San Marino is located in an area that was once inhabited by the Gabrielifio Indians. Their village was located where Huntington School is today. Principal portions of San Marino were once part of a Mexican Land Grant in 1830 to Sefiora Victoria Reid. Prior to the Grant, the area was part of the San Gabriel Mission. El Molino Viejo, or "the Old Mill," was the gristmill for the Mission. In 1852, Sefiora Reid deeded her ranch to Don Benito Wilson. Later, Wilson deeded the main portion to J. de Barth Shorb. The Shorb Estate, consisting of 600 acres of predominantly citrus trees, was known as the San Marino Ranch. Mr. Shorb named his California ranch after his grandfather's plantation in Maryland, which in tum had been named for the Republic of San Marino in southern Europe. In 1903, Henry E. Huntington purchased the Shorb Estate. Huntington was a noted railroad builder, land developer, and collector of art, rare books and manuscripts, and botanical species. He envisioned the area surrounding his own estate (now The Huntington Library, Art Gallery, and Botanical Gardens) as a fine, single-family community. Residential development evolved from this vision in the decades to follow. The Wilson and Patton ranchos were two other significant ranchos. There were other smaller ranchos including Stoneman, White, and Rose.

San Marino was incorporated as a general law city in 1913 taking its name from that of the Shorb, now Huntington, estate. The City Seal represents Mount Titano located in the European Republic of San Marino. The nickname for the high school—the Titans—is also derived from Mount Titano. The first mayor was George S. Patton, father of General George S. Patton, Jr., who gained renown in World War II.

The land for City Hall was donated to the City by Huntington in 1913. The building was completed in phases from 1920 to 1923. Additional land was donated by the Huntington Estate in 1928, for a total of two and a half acres. The first school was opened at the corner of Monterey Road, then called Calle de Lopez, and Oak Knoll in 1917. School was held in the Old Mayberry Home at this location.

A prominent feature of San Marino during the first part of the twentieth century was the Pacific Electric Railway. Its Sierra Madre line ran seventeen miles from Los Angeles to Sierra Madre, serving San Marino at stops in between. In the early days, development of communities followed the electric railway system, which was heavily subsidized by developers to encourage access to the new communities they promoted. The Sierra Madre Line to San Marino carried about 300,000 revenue passengers annually prior to World War II, reaching a peak in 1944 of 625,000 revenue passengers. Use declined rapidly following the war, as gas and rubber shortages ended and people made more use of their automobiles for transportation.

As the popularity of the automobile increased, access was available to developments not adjacent to the electric railways. The resulting increased need for improved streets and roads led to plans in the 1930s for a system of motorways to connect major communities, the first being the Arroyo Seco in 1939, which is now the Pasadena Freeway. Motor coaches, or buses, became increasingly used, replacing streetcars and other fixed rail transit, because of their flexibility in serving more areas. Increased auto use, combined with the withdrawal of developer subsidies for electric railways as development built out, resulted in the continuing decline of the Pacific Electric. Ultimately the railway was sold to the government, which determined it was obsolete and discontinued it in 1961.

The development pattern that exists today in San Marino reflects this change in transportation mode, yet is consistent with the pattern that has existed since its inception. Huntington Drive and Sierra Madre Boulevard continue to be principal arterials for movement within and through San Marino, although they are no longer rail routes. Today, landscaped medians have replaced the railroad rights of way along these major automobile corridors.

During the 1940s and 1950s, home development continued in the eastern neighborhoods of the City. The City was largely developed by the end of this period.

  1. City of San Marino, California, General Plan: History, 2003, www.ci.san-marino.ca.us, accessed August, 2015.
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