The Los Angeles area is well known for its theme parks, and one of the earliest in the area was Pasadena’s Busch Gardens, opened in 1906. The gardens were built by flamboyant brewer Adolphus Busch on 38 acres of land he assembled near his winter home on Orange Grove Avenue, just east of the Arroyo Seco.
Busch was soon busily landscaping his new pleasure park, eventually creating 14 miles of paths through extensive gardens which held 100,000 plants and featured fairy-tale tableaux of painted statues. The attraction became so popular that the Pacific Electric Railway ran a street car line to the ticket office, which admitted over 1,000,000 visitors over the lifetime of the park. Hollywood loved the park, too: Gone with the Wind, Robin Hood, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde all feature scenes shot in Busch Gardens.
Adolphus died in 1913 but the Gardens continued operations until 1937. After their closure, Busch’s widow offered the Gardens to Pasadena for use as a park on two separate occasions. The city refused and the park was sold and subdivided. Upscale homes now sit on land that once played host to concrete fairies and artificial waterfalls, in an attraction that paved the way for Disneyland and other modern theme parks.