The City of Claremont, Ca is a city that emerged from the construction of the Santa Fe Railroad in 1887 to connect Chicago and Los Angeles. The railroad allowed for Eastern investment to come to California and buy land. In anticipation of a large influx of migration to Claremont, a Victorian style train station was built (Santa Fe Station), which is a historical and significant figure for the city. Although efforts were made to make it accessible and land affordable the anticipated boom never came and Claremont nearly became a ghost town.
It wasn’t until the Second World War when Claremont became increasingly popular place to live. The decline of the citrus industry in Claremont was in large part by housing developments. In 1954, San Bernardino Freeway made it possible for people to connect to Claremont.
What many city’s in Southern California and Claremont are facing are the transportation related issues. Many of those problems are directly related to the vision Los Angeles had before World War 2. Los Angeles’ vision of itself before World War 2 was naively utopian: “We can keep taking, keep growing, keep driving, and any problems we might encounter along the way will be easily handled by future generations.” Many of those after effects are become more apparent as we continue to develop sporadically without creating sustainable means of transportation.
Claremont is the hub of transportation in the area. Claremont’s transportation network is served by four main transportation providers, and by Foothill Transit and Metrolink. Nonetheless, the primary mode of transportation is still the automobile. A key element in creating sustainable communities is to provide alternative modes of transportation. The recent development of bicycle transit systems has emerged in the city, by Mobis Transportation, that provide a complete bicycle transit center, located in the Historic Claremont Depot in downtown, that includes a variety of services and amenities that make bicycling more secure and convenient, including bike parking, bike repairing and rental services.
Claremont’s many historic residential neighborhoods provide an intensive look at the range and evolution of Southern California architecture during the early 20th century. This architecture ranges from the highly ornate Victorian Style of the late 1800s to the more simple Arts & Crafts and Eclectic Revival styles most of which were built during the Colleges’ growth spurt during the 1910s and 1930s. Together these homes form Claremont’s architectural heritage.
The Sumner House – Built in 1887 in Victorian style. It is the oldest house in Claremont.
Claremont was founded in 1887 the Victorian era, Residential architecture following this style built were large, ornate and picturesque. A prime example of Victorian architecture (and the oldest house in Claremont) is the Sumner House built in 1887. The Victorian style gave way to the Arts & Crafts style in the early 20th century. Arts & Crafts architecture is not unified by specific design elements, but by an approach to design that emphasizes simplicity and excellent workmanship; in Claremont it is typified by the iconic California Bungalow. The bungalow was the most popular house style across America and Claremont has a wide abundance of them, many of which were built prior to World War I. After World War I tastes shifted to the Eclectic Revival; the Revival styles are based historical European and American building precedents (Old English, Spanish, French, and Mediterranean). Many of the homes built in Claremont during this period are in these Revival styles.
Inventory #2: History
By James Garganera
Another part of Claremont’s rich history is the Garner House. The Garner house was built in 1926 by Bess and German Garner around the time the citrus industry was blooming. The Spanish colonial revival home is known for its beautiful wrought ironwork, oak and cork flooring and its unique floor plan. In 1946, the city of Claremont purchased the house as well as the surrounding citrus groves and turned it into a memorial park. Known as “the site central to the history of Claremont”, in 2001 the Garner House is home to the Claremont Heritage Group, which prides itself on preserving historical buildings within the city. The Claremont Heritage Group utilizes the house to keep records of historical data of the city, and archives of historical facts from the city’s early days can be obtained by request. Today, the Garner House is where meetings about historical preservation topics are held. The Garner House also acts as a venue for weddings and parties. It is safe to say, without the Claremont Heritage and the Garner House, the city of Claremont would have a different take on historical preservation.
As of 2013, the City of Claremont contained an estimated 11,735 householders. Of this, the majority, 76%, were white alone; 12% were Asian alone, 4.3% were Black, and 3.8% were some other race. These statistics have remained fairly consistent since 2000; the following charts show the change: Continue reading
The earliest known inhabitants of what is now the City of Claremont were the Serrano Native Americans. They made the area their home for hundreds of years before being driven away by the Spanish missionaries, Mexican ranchers and eventually American settlers in the late 1800s
Above: The Santa Fe Train Station Depot built in 1927. Today it is still used as a Metrolink station (source: American Towns)
Claremont was established because land developers in the 1880s speculated that there would be a need for a town in the area because of a population boom; these speculations were based on the arrival of the Sante Fe Railroad and building of Pomona College in the area. But the railroad never did bring an expected population and the land development boom did not pan out. Instead the community was shaped through other industries; it flourished as an educational center and developed a major citrus industry. Citrus was the chief industry during the first part of the 20th century Claremont and other towns in the San Gabriel Valley. At the industry’s height, there were four packing houses, an ice house, and a pre-cooling plant all lining the main railroad tracks in Claremont with each packing house employing 200-300 people. By 1950, Claremont had between three and four thousand acres dedicated to the cultivation of lemons and oranges and in 1965, the lemon house packed about one million boxes of lemons. In the 1960s and early 1970s the increasing price of land made residential development more lucrative than citrus; production diminished and packing operations moved to Riverside County. Many buildings and features throughout out Claremont , including the railroads college buildings, the surviving packing house, are a testimony institutions that shaped this vibrant community There is a mixture of old and new buildings that reflect the different architectural styles that served periods and function. This is interspersed with an “urban forest” – the many old and new trees that line the streets of the city adding to its historic character. All of this has been made possible through the city’s long history of planning and commitment to preserve its heritage.
Above: A 1941 photograph of Claremont and Mt. Baldy. Pomona College is visible in the lower right side (Source: Black and white negative, 6.45 x 4.45 inches: Claremontiana Photo Archive; Claremont)
The first city plan was prepared in 1908 one year after incorporation and in 1924 the city’s Chamber of Commerce appointed the first planning Commission. In 1944, in anticipation of the expected growth in the post war period, the Postwar Planning Committee was created. In the year that this entity worked it made planning decisions that created a street tree program, the creation of the Parks and Recreation Department, community park proposals, a renovated zoning ordinance and street/public safety plans. Claremont is distinctive as a community because of this rich history, historic preservation, its parks and trees, and college town atmosphere that must be preserved well into the future.
The early stages of Claremont, CA are the direct result of the inherent traditional values of the community. The preservation of the city, lead by community collaboration, has allowed for the celebration of historical architecture and natural and cultural resources. Much of what are considered iconic buildings in Claremont have been through the help of Claremont Heritage, a non-profit organization that helped preserve one of the most historic buildings for the city, such as, Santa Fe Train Depot, the oldest house in Claremont called the Summer House (1887), and the Garner house.
Claremont was founded in 1887 in part by the Santa Fe Railroad and the Claremont Colleges. It’s village district is today one of the only historic downtowns in the region by maintaining its “town meeting” form.
Santa Fe Station
The creation of the Santa Fe Railroad catalyzed the creation of the community, but after a short success, the town nearly became a “ghost town”. In addition, the creation of Pomona College, in due part with the proponent values of the founders, wanted to create a “New England Style” college that reflected their hometown spirit. The college’s success became the hallmark establishment and allowed for the city’s culture, community, and future development endeavors to flourish.
Claremont’s rich history going back to Native American settlements, Mexican and Anglo-European influences, and the first filed claim of the territory by Jedediah Smith all established a sense of pride and knowledge of the city’s very own history and is a true contribution to the everyday decisions for the continuation of development in the city.
The city of Claremont is located 30 miles east of Los Angeles. The community takes pride in its small-town atmosphere, renowned colleges and rich architectural history.