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City of San Marino
Official seal of City of San Marino
"Quis Dan Volo, Dan Accipio"
Location of San Marino in Los Angeles County, California
Location of San Marino in Los Angeles County, California
CountryUnited States
CountyLos Angeles
 • Total3.8 sq mi (9.8 km2)
 • Land3.8 sq mi (9.8 km2)
 • Water0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
564 ft (172 m)
 • Total12,945
 • Density3,407/sq mi (1,321/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (PST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
91108, 91118
Area code626
FIPS code06-68224
GNIS feature ID1652789

San Marino is a small, affluent city in the San Rafael Hills of Los Angeles County, California. Incorporated in 1913, the City founders designed the community to be uniquely residential, with expansive properties, surrounded by beautiful gardens with wide streets, and well maintained parkways. In 2009, Forbes ranked the city's ZIP of 91108 as the 79th most expensive area to live in the United States.[1] The city was named after the Republic of San Marino, which is also represented in the city's seal, with the Three Towers of San Marino.[2]


Origin of name

The ancient San Marino Republic was named after Marino (also known as Marinus) of Rab, a stonemason, who fled over seventeen centuries ago [3] from his home on the Dalmatian coast, (which today lies in modern Crotia) at the time of The Diocletianic Persecution or "Great Persecution" against Christian believers. He eventually took refuge among the rocky crags of Monte Titano, where he built a chapel and a monastery. He founded a monastic community in 301 A.D.. He was ordained by St. Gaudentius, Bishop of Rimini. According to legend, he died in the winter of 366. In 1085 A.D. He was canonized Saint Marinus and is honored as the founder of the world's oldest surviving republic, the State of San Marino, which grew from the centre created by his monastery. [4][1]

The San Marino Seal contains the three summits of Mt. Titano, upon each of which reposes a tower, fortified with walls built from native rock and capped with a bronze plume, all surrounded by a heart-shaped scroll with two roundels and a lozenge (of unknown significance) at the top. Underneath the left side is a graceful palm frond and underneath the right side, a branch from an orange tree. The crown representing the monarchy on the original was removed and five stars representing the five members of the City's governing body were added.[5]

Early history

Originally the land which is now the City of San Marino was occupied by the village of Gabrielino-Tongva Indians. The area was part of the San Gabriel Mission (the "Old Mill" was the grist mill for the Mission). The principal portions of San Marino were included in a Mexican Land Grant in 1830 to an Native-American woman, Senora Victoria Reid, the widow of an Englishman. She named her Rancho, Huerta de Cuati. In 1852, Senora Reid deeded her Rancho to Don Benito Wilson, who became the first Anglo owner of Rancho San Pascual (or Pasqual), which encompassed today's cities of Pasadena, Altadena, South Pasadena, Alhambra, San Marino and San Gabriel and he built another home there.. Later, Wilson deeded the main portion to James DeBarth Shorb,his son-in-law, who named his Rancho after his grandfather's plantation in Maryland, which had received its name from the Republic of San Marino.[6] After DeBarth Shorb worked for his father-in-law for six years, without amassing anything of real value to call his own, DeBarth's wife urged him to request from his father-in-law a "half interest" in some San Gabriel land and the water rights to same, a very wise move. Don Benito agreed and incorporated the partnership. Shorb named his portion "San Marino" — located today between Pasadena and San Gabriel, named for his grandfather's plantation in Maryland. Shorb soon had his hands full developing the 1,800 acres of what is called the Lake Vineyard and Mound Vineyard and building their home, which is today the site of theHuntington Library Art Gallery.[7]

In 1903, the Shorb Estate was purchased by Henry E. Huntington (1850–1927), and in 1913 the three primary Ranchos of Wilson, Patton, and Huntington, together with the subdivided areas from those and smaller Ranchos, such as Stoneman, White, Rose and others, were incorporated as the city of San Marino.[8] Huntington founded the Pacific Electric Railway (the red cars) and financed the Los Angeles Railway (the yellow cars) both of which once operated a widespread network of streetcars in urban Los Angeles County. Huntington Drive and Sierra Madre Boulevard, on whose midways once ran the streetcars, and now serve as the main thoroughfares of San Marino. [9] Henry Huntington played a major role in local real estate development. His uncle-benefactor and business partner Collis P. Huntington was one of the Big Four railroad magnates who in 1861 had founded the Central Pacific Railroad, later acquiring the Southern Pacific Railroad.

The first mayor of the city of San Marino,was George S Patton Sr. He was the son of a slain Civil War general and graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1877, just before moving west. There he married Ruth Wilson, the daughter of Don Benito Wilson. and their son was, of course, the famous World War II general,George S. Patton Jr.[10]

Most of the San Marino homes were built between 1920 and 1950. Single Family July 16 2010.The Median List Price of a single family home is $1,987,500, as of July, 2010.[11]

To a prior generation of southern Californians, San Marino was known for its old-money wealth and as a bastion of the region's WASP gentry. By mid-century, other European ethnic groups had become the majority; in recent decades, immigrants of Chinese (especially Taiwanese) ancestry have come to represent nearly half the population.[12]


San Marino is the location of the renowned Huntington Library and gardens, on the former estate of In 1919 Henry Huntington opened to the public limited access to the art collections, and to the rare books and historical documents, housed in the library and in his large Neoclassical-Palladian mansion, as well as to the surrounding botanical gardens, all collectively known as the "The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens", or "The Huntington."[13]

El Molino Viejo ("The Old Mill"), completed about 1816 as a grist mill for Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, is in San Marino. The original two-story structure measured 53 by 26 feet. It is the oldest commercial building in Southern California. The town is located on the former lands of the historic Rancho Huerta de Cuati. [14]

The Edwin Hubble House, From 1925 to 1953, this two story stucco home was the residence of one of America's greatest 20th-century astronomers who, among other accomplishments, discovered extragalactic nebulae and their recession from each other. Edwin Hubble, is a National Historic Landmark. [15]

The Michael White Adobe House, is located on the high school campus and houses the San Marino Historical Society archives. [16]

The University of Southern California owns a house in San Marino which is used as the residence of the President of the University. The residence and grounds are often used for University Presidential events.

In the middle of San Marino lies Lacy Park, a huge 30 acre expanse of lush grass and trees rare for urban areas. Originally named Wilson Lake in 1875, the land was purchased by the city in 1925 and dedicated as a park. Families in San Marino have enjoyed the park for years, and it remains one of San Marino's best kept secrets. A picnic area is often the site of musical concerts, civic events and pancake breakfasts. Within the park are two walking loops: an inner loop of approximately 3/4 mile in length, and an outer loop of approximately 1 mile in length. Dogs are welcome with their owners, providing they are on a leash. [17] The park includes six championship tennis courts and pro shop, administered by the San Marino Tennis Foundation. At the west entrance of the park is the Rose Arbor, which is of special significance for the people of San Marino. It is sixty years old and has long been a source of beauty and tranquility to many residents. In recent years the care and upkeep of the Rose Arbor itself has been augmented by private donations from dedicated residents who have chosen to sponsor individual posts.[18]The park recently built a memorial to General George S. Patton (a native of San Marino) and also a large memorial to Armed Forces along with a statue of a sad soldier. The memorial includes the names of all military personnel from San Marino.[19]

The city's local newspaper office is located in the heart of town near the city's most prominent street, Huntington Drive. "The San Marino Tribune" has been the official newspaper of the city since 1929. There are two sections of the weekly paper, an "A" section and a "B" section, the distinction being that it covers not only San Marino news but also the Pasadena, San Gabriel, Alhambra, Arcadia and South Pasadena news.[20]

City politics

Governing the City of San Marino is a city council of five members, elected by the people for a four-year term, at elections held in March of odd calendar years. These five Council members serve without any financial compensation and elect one of their own members as Mayor. The current Mayor is Dennis Kneier. The Vice Mayor is Dr. Allan Yung and council members are: Dr. Richard Sun, Richard Ward and Eugene Sun. [21]

The San Marino City Council page states: "San Marino was formed to protect your personal rights and to control the growth and activities of the City in such a way that each individual resident will be guaranteed a pleasant place in which to live with a minimum of nuisance, with assurance that his property values will be protected by stringent zoning regulations.It is your City Council's desire to acquaint the old and new residents with the history and background of San Marino, its many advantages and some of your responsibilities as a citizen. " [22]

This community consists only of single family residences and there are no apartment buildings, condominiums or townhouses in the city.[23] There are also no fast food restaurants allowed in San Marino


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there were 12,945 people, 4,266 households, and 3,673 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,430.5/mi² (1,325.8/km²). There were 4,437 housing units at an average density of 1,175.8/mi² (454.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 51.98% White, 0.15% African American, 0.05% Native American, 48.4% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 1.04% from other races, and 2.30% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.25% of the population. More than one-third of the city's population, 33.3% , are Chinese.[24]

There were 4,266 households out of which 42% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 75% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 13.9% were non-families. 12% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.03 and the average family size was 3.29.

In the city the population is spread out with 26.5% under the age of 18, 6.4% from 18 to 24, 21.5% from 25 to 44, 29.4% from 45 to 64, and 16.2% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 43 years. For every 100 females there were 93.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $147,267, and the median income for a family was $155,708. Males had a median income of $98,928 versus $51,853 for females. The per capita income for the city was $59,150. About 3.7% of families and 5.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.8% of those under age 18 and 3.0% of those age 65 or over. The vast majority, 69.7% of persons, had a Bachelor's degree or higher, compared to 27.2% at the national average.[24]


The city is divided into seven zones, based on minimum lot size. The smallest lot size is about 4,500 square feet, with many averaging over 30,000 square feet. Because of this and other factors, most of the homes in San Marino, built between 1920 and 1950, do not resemble the houses in surrounding Southern California neighborhoods (with the exception, perhaps, of neighboring portions of Pasadena). San Marino has also fostered a sense of historic preservation among its homeowners. With minor exceptions, the city's strict design review and zoning laws have thus far prevented the development of large homes found elsewhere in Los Angeles. No apartment buildings exist in the city. [citation needed]

San Marino is located at 34°7′22″N 118°6′47″W / 34.12278°N 118.11306°W / 34.12278; -118.11306Invalid arguments have been passed to the ((#coordinates:)) function (34.122658, -118.112964).Template:GR

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.8 mi² (9.8 km²), all land.

San Marino is highly restrictive of commercial operations in the city. It is one of the few cities that requires commercial vehicles to have permits to work in the City.


On September 9, 191, the first San Marino school was opened at the corner of Monterey Road, (then called Calle de Lopez) and Oak Knoll, in what was known as the Old Mayberry Home. There were three teachers and thirty-five pupils, grades kindergarten through the eighth; High School students attended South Pasadena High until San Marino High School was founded in 1955 after 50 years of utilizing South Pasadena High School in nearby South Pasadena. San Marino High School graduated its first class in 1956. The High School nickname, "The Titans," comes from Mt. Titano, in the Republic of San Marino. [25]

San Marino High School is situated on the former site of Carver Elementary School. In 1996, the high school reconstruction was begun and the school is now equipped with new laboratories, classrooms, and ethernet connections, supported mainlyly by bond issues and rigorous fund-raising by the San Marino Schools Endowment. The new buildings include a brand new cafeteria, orchestra and band room, dance studio, journalism lab, and renovated auditoriums, as well as a renovated baseball field and a brand new football field/track.[26]

San Marino High School is part of the San Marino Unified School District. Its public funding is supplemented by private donations raised through the San Marino Schools Endowment Foundation. Each year, the Foundation raises funds necessary to balance the District’s budget. To date, the San Marino Schools Foundation has contributed $18,268,485 to our schools since their inception in March 1980.[26]

As of the 2009 Academic Performance Index, API school reports, the San Marino Unified School District is the top performing school district in California. [27] Its high school consistently ranks as one of the highest API scores among public high schools in California. Each of its public primary schools have been honored as a California Distinguished School and the United States National Blue Ribbon School.[28]

There are four public schools in San Marino Unified School District:

The two elementary schools offer instruction for grades K-5, the middle school for grades 6-8 and the high school for grades 9-12. The middle school was named Henry E. Huntington School, after San Marino’s “first citizen.”[26] In 1953, a new K. L. Carver Elementary was completed at its current location on San Gabriel Boulevard and was named after a school board member of 19 years – K. L. Carver. [26][29] Stoneman Elementary School, named for Governor George Stoneman, who had resided in San Marino, is no longer used for instruction by San Marino School District. The former school is now leased by the San Marino City Recreation Department and houses San Marino Unified School District special education staff. [26]

Six consecutive years, 2004, through 2009, the San Marino Unified School District ranked first among all 328 California unified school districts based on the California Academic Performance Index. San Marino High School is considered one of the best-performing public schools on Standardized Achievement Tests in Southern California. It was also named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2006. Some of San Marino's schools' funding comes from private donors and organizations. [26] In November 2007, San Marino High School was ranked 82nd on a list of the best high school in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report.[30]

Private schools

City services

When the City of San Marino was first incorporated in 1913 it did not have its own police department. During its early years, the only police protection deemed necessary was a City Marshal. However, as the City began to grow and crime made its way into the community, two deputy City Marshals were added in October of 1918. In 1924, then Deputy Marshal Ben Parker was appointed the Cities first police chief. He served until 1934. [31] Currently, The Field Services Division, or Patrol Bureau, is the largest component of the Police Department division with a staff of 22, including 1 Lieutenant, 4 Sergeants, and 17 patrol officers. The San Marino Police Department's core values are Integrity, Hard Work, Support/Teamwork and Pride in Service. Their motto is "Pride in Service." [32]

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services operates the Monrovia Health Center in Monrovia, serving San Marino.[33]


San Marino may be recognizable to many Americans for the prevalence of movies and television shows filmed in the city. Location scouts turn to San Marino when they wish to make a film in southern California set elsewhere. Certain neighborhoods resemble the Atlantic seaboard because of the atypical housing stock in the city, including Georgian and faux antebellum mansions. Yet the design of many homes is inspired by California Spanish architecture. Television shows such as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and movies such as Father of the Bride have been filmed in San Marino and Pasadena.

The city of San Marino played a prominent role in Edward Bunker's 1996 novel Dog Eat Dog. The movie Father of the Bride with Steve Martin, although filmed in neighboring Pasadena and Alhambra, takes place in San Marino. Scenes for the movie Mr. & Mrs. Smith were filmed in San Marino, as were scenes from many other movies (like Memoirs of a Geisha (film), "The Holiday", Monster-in-Law, Anger Management, The Wedding Planner, Starsky & Hutch (film), Intolerable Cruelty, Beverly Hills Ninja, One Hour Photo, American Wedding, Mystery Men, S1m0ne, Enough, Men in Black II, Charlie's Angels (film), The Sweetest Thing) and TV shows, like Alias, The Office, The West Wing and Felicity. In the Movie "Mask", Rocky Dennis (played by Eric Stoltz) has a girlfriend from San Marino. More recently, the film Disturbia was filmed in San Marino and residents of the area were allowed a sneak preview.

Intrigued by the recently renovated campus, stellar academic program and wealthy community base, MTV scouted San Marino High School in early 2004 looking to cast students and shoot pilots for three different proposed television show concepts. The school administration agreed to hold a casting call on campus with students during school hours. Producers eventually shot two of the three proposed pilots, only one of which aired. The short-lived "Borrow My Crew" series followed a high school senior around for a few weeks up until Prom Night—in which singer and actress Jennifer Lopez lent her personal hair dresser, make-up crew, and stylist to make her Prom Night extra special. Celebrity Fonzworth Bentley was her date to the event and later performed on the dance floor with the student body. The third show concept was for a documentary series that would follow a group of wealthy and privileged high school kids as they went about their everyday lives—intended as a reality spin-off homage to the show Beverly Hills, 90210 and in the format of MTV's long-time running The Real World. Producers eventually decided to create the show in Orange County, set amongst a liberal beach town to capitalize on the immense success of Fox Network's new teen-drama sitcom The O.C.. The concept eventually came to be the first season of the now popular reality television program Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County.

Notable residents


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  26. ^ a b c d e f g h | Cite error: The named reference "history" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
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  33. ^ "Monrovia Health Center." Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. Retrieved on March 27, 2010.