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If you are looking to move to a small California town where everything feels like home there is no better place than Sierra Madre. The true testament to the small-town feel of this city is this: it doesn’t have a single stop light, and residents are not interested in having them in the future. Sierra Madre is located on the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley near the Angeles National Forest. It is just 7 miles east of downtown Pasadena and 13 miles from Los Angeles and has a population of only 10,000 people. The residents of Sierra Madre love living in their small town which some say feels like time stopped back in the 1900s, but which has all the modern comforts that you will find in any modern American city.

Sierra Madre was initially settled by the Tongva tribe of native Indians. Their name means “The People of the Earth” and it is estimated that before settlers arrived there were about 25 villages that were home to about 5,000 people. That changed when in 1769 the first Spanish settlers arrived. It didn’t work out very well for the Tongva. According to Wikipedia, “Two years later, Mission San Gabriel Arcangel was founded in today’s Montebello, causing the Tongva communities to rapidly dwindle. The mission was later moved to San Gabriel because of severe flooding from the Rio Hondo River, which ruined their crops. The original mission site is now marked by a California Historical Landmark. Tongvas were integrated into the culture of the mission, and the tribe were renamed Gabrielino Indians by the Spaniards. The first Mount Wilson trail was carved by the Gabrielino Indians which was used by them when they carried timber down from the mountains for the construction of the San Gabriel Mission in 1771.”

Sierra Madre is home to the oldest tourist resort in the San Gabriel valley. In fact, it is from here that pioneer mountain resorts in this area originated. It is also home to the Mount Wilson Observatory which was installed there by Harvard College in 1889. There was one problem however – the observatory and other equipment had to be transported up a hill and what was then Mt. Wilson walkway was transformed into a major road. Despite the road having a toll there was so much foot and pack animal traffic that it had to be widened.

Sierra Madre has seen many changes over the years but residents are determined to keep it small and quiet. It has all the amenities you would want for modern living as well as excellent infrastructure. Residents enjoy a high per capita income with a cost of living that is 38% higher than the rest of California. The average income per household is about $88,000 a year and all residents live I households. Unlike most California cities, however, Sierra Madre is predominantly white, with only about 2% of the population being African Americans and even smaller numbers of other races.

There are many small restaurants and shops in sierra Madre. Many of the residents who live in this community work in neighboring cities – although it was mainly an agricultural community, it is now a residential area. There is plenty to do outdoors and there are many biking as well as hiking trails. It also has several tourist attractions, including the famous Wisteria Vine. This is a 1 acre vine that was planted in the 1890s and which continues to thrive to this day. According to Wikipedia, “The plant was named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest flowering plant and one of the seven horticultural wonders of the world. The annual festival is the one day a year the vine on private property can be viewed. The city’s more than 500-foot (150 m)-long Wisteria Vine, was purchased in 1894 by Mrs. William (Alice) Brugman from the old Wilson nursery, in Monrovia, for seventy-five cents. Over time, the vine, with its lavender flowers, grew so large that it crushed the house. Now the vine spans two back yards in the 500 block of North Hermosa Avenue. The vine measures more than 1 acre in size and weighs 250 tons.”

The city also participates every year in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and they make their own floats with residents donating funds for tournament activities. Sierra Madre is almost home to one of the strangest bed and breakfast in the world, the Jailhouse Inn. It is an old jail with only one small cell that has been converted into a luxury room that can only accommodate one or two people a night. Here are other notable facts, according to http://www.cityofsierramadre.com/cityhall/city_manager_s_office/about_us/:

• Since 1910 Sierra Madre has been a frequent filming location. Sites around town have turned up in movies such as “The Great Man’s Lady”, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, “Family Plot”, “The Wedding Singer”, “K-Pax”, “The Princess Diaries”, and “Kicking & Screaming”.

• Artifacts of the Gabrielino or Tongva Indians have been discovered in the Sierra Madre canyon. The Gabrielino/Tongva were the original inhabitants of the Los Angeles Basin.

• The Sierra Madre Public Library is the fourth oldest city library in Los Angeles County and the tenth oldest in Southern California. Founded by original settlers of Sierra Madre, the library was incorporated under the laws of the State of California in July 1886. The first library building was completed in the summer of 1887.

Real estate is not cheap in Sierra Madre – in fact, it is a whopping 117% higher than the California average. The cost of an average home is about $800,000 but for those who are looking to rent you will find that rates more or less compare to the rest of the state. For this reason, many people in the city prefer to rent rather than buy especially if they are living there primarily for their jobs.