This blog entry is about the city of Claremont.
Claremont is the poshest of the three cities in the Los Angeles end of the Pomona Valley. It’s bordered by La Verne to the west, Pomona to the southwest, Montclair to the southeast, Upland to the east, and the Angeles National Forest to the north. My opinion of Claremont’s poshness is almost entirely based on knowing someone from nearby Ontario who claimed to be from Claremont to elevate her status.
GETTING TO AND AROUND CLAREMONT
If you don’t have access to the CARDIS, the most pleasant way to get to Claremont is via the Metrolink‘s San Bernardino Line, which has stops in the middle of everything at the Claremont Station. Claremont is also served by the very nice Foothill Transit lines 187, 197, 480, 492, 699, and 855. People over 60 and anyone disabled can take Dial-a-Ride. Pomona Valley Transportation Authority (PVTA), serves Claremont, La Verne, Pomona, and San Dimas. Finally, groups of over six Claremontians can take Group Van Service.
Due to its fairly green nature and the existence of seven colleges and universities, Claremont has the nickname “City of Trees and PhDs.” As a matter of fact, the National Arbor Day Association has honored Claremont as a Tree City USA for the past nineteen years. We tried to visit the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden but a rather snippy harpy squawked at us aggressively. We merely asked if she’d mind us checking out the park (since it was still open according to the posted hours) and she shrieked nastily, “As a matter of fact I do!”
Luckily, there are fifteen other parks in the city where the staff have to be less unpleasant. We decided to check out some of the others. There proved to be no beasts guarding the smaller but welcoming John R. Rodman Arboretum.
Paul piloted his Saturn to the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park. The area known as “The Towers,” Paul informed me, is a popular place for teens to drink beer. Indeed, we did find evidence of both teens and several empty cans of a beverage billed as “high gravity lager.” Memorial Park plays host in the spring to the Claremont Folk Music Festival and, in the summer, the Claremont Monday Night Concert Series. Also worth a mention — but held in a park, is April‘s Kohoutek Music and Arts Festival.
Claremont’s population today is roughly 64% white, 16% Latino of any race (mostly Mexican) and 12% Asian (mostly Taiwanese), and 5% black. German-Americans and English-Americans are the largest ethnicities.
During our visit, Claremont proved to be very quiet, as green as its reputation promised, and full of spring blooms. Claremont is mostly residential and centered around a shopping area known as “the Village.” In the last few years, the formerly industrial area to the west of the village has been rezoned for commercial use and branded “Village West” (aka the “Village Expansion”). There are also many shops in the Claremont Inn Complex, attached to the Old School House.
Some of the noted Claremont eateries include Some Crust Bakery, BC Cafe Kick Back Jack’s, Inka Trails, Pollos Kikiryki, Patty’s Mexican Foods, Viva Madrid, The Back Abbey, La Parolaccia Osteria Italiana, Saca’s Mediterranean Cuisine, Bua Thai Cuisine, and Walter’s Restaurant.
A chance encounter with KSPC’s fetching DeeJay Dia (host of Songs for the Whippersnapper Show ) resulted in her giving us a heads up about a relatively new joint, Ali Baba… but we returned from whence we started (for symmetry’s sake) to the Press to conclude our exploration as we’d begun, over some drinks at a venue known for its live music, often featuring local acts like AzBuka and the Baldy Mountain Jazz Band.
Before Rhino became a re-issue label, it was a record store and it was at the Claremont location that I bought the best of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds on VHS about a decade ago.
There’s also the radio station KSPC (88.7), which I can sometimes hear thirty or so miles away. Frank Zappa and the Dust Brothers both had shows there at one time, as did DJ Superstar. When Paul and I popped in, we ran into Steven Hertz, host of the Videogame Music Show. We crashed the studio to find Happy Hollows setting up for a live performance to precede their gig at No-Chella.
THEATER, FILM & TV
Nestled in the the foothills is the Padua Hills Theatre, which was built back in the 1920s. Several films have been shot either in part or in whole in Claremont, including Teenwolf Too, Son of Flubber, Real Genius, Over the Top, The Fear, Dave, Beaches, The Absent Minded Professor, Gilmore Girls, and the first shot in the opening credits of The Facts of Life.
Claremont is currently home to just one movie theater, Laemmle’s Claremont 5. Though a multiplex, the Laemmle’s chain shows a good selection of first-run, independent, and foreign films. The Claremont 5 opened on the location of an abandoned citrus packing plant.
Claremont was formerly home to the 540-seat, single-screen Village Theatre. It was designed by Sumner Spaulding, who also designed Harold Lloyd‘s Green Acres and the Avalon Theatre in Avalon. It opened in 1939 but I have no information as to when it closed.
For the history and preservation-minded, Claremont Heritage is an excellent organization. There almost have to be more bookstores in Claremont that I’m not aware of. All that I know of are Huntley Bookstore and The Claremont Forum. The latter is a non-profit organization and not just a bookstore although it seems to be one of the most well-reviewed bookshops in the city.
FURTHER READING AND VIEWING
If you’d like to read more about Claremont, there is Wayne L. McElreavy‘s Claremont (2012) — part of the Images of America series. For viewing, Visiting…With Huell Howser episode #1511, “Citrus Packing House,” delved more deeply into the culture and history of Claremont than the title might suggest.