Sierra Madre, CA

The name Sierra Madre might celebrate the majestic mountain range forming a backdrop to this lovely, little community, but the city prides itself on being known as the “Village of the Foothills.”

“Village” is a key word, because this town nestled in the San Gabriel Mountain foothills between Pasadena and Arcadia has retained a village sense of community and intimacy despite being part of the greater metropolitan area of Los Angeles.

Partly that has to do with the layout of Sierra Madre’s neighborhoods – small streets, old trees and old homes (many designated as historic landmarks), no traffic signals, a volunteer fire department – and partly it has to do with the dedication of residents, who’ve worked hard to preserve and protect the city’s heritage. One point of pride is the bell tower that houses the original school bell used by a schoolhouse in 1885.

Like many other cities in the foothills of the San Gabriels, Sierra Madre was formed from land once belonging to large Mexican ranchos. Though a settlement grew there in the late 1800s, the city itself wasn’t incorporated until 1907: By that time the population totaled about 500 people (today, by comparison, that number is closer to 11,000).

Visitors will find a business center consisting mainly of small merchants, restaurants and mom-and-pop stores. All of this encourages foot traffic and strolling, and the city has capitalized on this quaint leisurely appeal with a number of regular events, including: an Independence Day parade and festivities; and the annual Wistaria Festival (the wisteria vine has long been associated with the city).

But for walkers who want a more strenuous challenge, plenty of wilderness and canyon trails will take them up into the foothills.

Students attend schools in the Pasadena Unified School District, which serves Sierra Madre; and there are a host of churches of various denominations.

Also located within the city limits is the Mater Dolorosa Monastery, a lovely Catholic center in the hills where monks lead retreats, but that’s not all. It has also been known as a place where football teams participating in the Rose Bowl have stayed: An ideal place for players to meditate and rest up on the night before the big game!

New Sierra Madre Listings

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