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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mysery History -- Solved!

Helen* wins with her 2:46 p.m. Tuesday guess "Building or repairing the dome of City Hall?"

In the 1926 photo above, the dome at Pasadena City Hall is under construction. 

The dome sits above the tower and below the cupola in this 1927 photo when construction of City Hall is near completion.

City Hall was built before union rules, OSHA and other modern safeguards. The workers in 1926 and 1927, most of them local, didn't have hard hats, back support belts, knee pads, steel-toed boots and nail guns; what they did have was a strong ethic for hard, honest work.


There are hundreds of photos in this series shot by photographer Albert Hiller, who was 42 years old and nationally renowned when he was commissioned by the City of Pasadena to document the construction of City Hall. The photos are mostly in albums that are part of the historical collection in the Centennial Room at Pasadena Central Library.  Hiller lived in Pasadena and had a studio at 49 E. Colorado Blvd. He was also a celebrity photographer of sorts, shooting portraits in his studio of Eva Fenyes, Lilly Busch, violinist Henri van Praag and many others.

This 1927 photo is one of my favorites, but the photographer is unknown. A worker stands proudly next to the huge medallion that graces the front of City Hall:

*Helen, please message me on Facebook or email me at so we can schedule our lunch date!

Many thanks to Pasadena Public Library.


  1. Fascinating, as usual. Thanks for sharing yet another interesting chapter in Pasadena history!

  2. I didn't think it would be City Hall as you've written about it several times before. But you always find new angles and new photos! The cat's out the bag about your exhibition in January and I'm really looking forward to it!