A trip to Pasadena, CA should also include a visit to the fantastic Huntington, which easily overwhelms with its seize. The Huntington in San Marino, CA offers a library with a collection of rare books, four different art galleries, a 120-acre botanical garden, a large greenhouse, a tea room and much more. We tried to squeeze everything into a one-day visit but had to skip some of the gardens just because there is too much to do and see.
The Library collection of rare books was exciting since it showed books that I have heard so much about during my studies as an English major: the Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a Gutenberg Bible on vellum, early editions of Shakespeare’s work and much more. The Gutenberg Bible (ca. 1450-1500) sparked a revolution throughout Europe in the way knowledge was presented and shared as previously nearly all texts were written and copied by hand. Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press and movable type changed the way books were created.
The four art galleries on the grounds include a range of older to newer pieces with highlights such as Thomas Gainsborough’s Blue Boy and Edward Hopper’s The Long Leg.
A personal favorite that is not one of the most famous pieces of the collection was A Foothill Trail (ca. 1919) by Granville Redmond:
The Huntington is actually the former estate of railroad and real estate magnate Henry Huntington (1850-1927), who at one point was on as many as 60 corporate boards at the same time throughout the U.S. I am always fascinated by how many ultra-rich people on the West Coast during and after the Gold Rush got rich because of the railroad (Leland Stanford, the founder of Stanford University, comes to mind as another example). The estate is so large that we had to skip some of the over a dozen specialized gardens that add up to 120 acres. Even though there are plenty of palm trees around California, I enjoyed the Palm Gardens the most:
After hours of walking through the grounds and standing in front of pieces of art, afternoon tea with scones and finger sandwiches was exactly what we needed (reservations are recommended for the Rose Garden Tea Room):
If you are in the LA area and especially if you are in neighboring Pasadena, I recommend a visit to the Huntington. For more information on opening hours and entrance fees, see: http://www.huntington.org/ . For more details about the Rose Garden Tea Room and to make online reservations for it, see: Tea Room.