In 1875, Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin acquired the Rancho Santa Anita, and began subdividing and selling parcels immediately. By 1903, he officially founded Arcadia and became its first mayor. Initially, the city was known for its lawlessness, especially during Baldwin’s tenure. However, with his passing, the growth of a large poultry business, and the outlawing of alcohol in 1909, the teens became a prosperous time for Arcadia.


With the coming of World War I, the “Balloon School” was created at Ross Field (the current site of Santa Anita Park), and thousands of servicemen came to the area. In 1934, after thoroughbred racing was made legal again, Santa Anita Park would be opened. During World War II, it would then be used first as an Assembly Center for Japanese Americans, then later as Camp Santa Anita (a training ground) and eventually a Prisoner of War Camp.


Following World War II, Arcadia’s population increased from 15,523 in 1946 to 28,722 in 1952, growth of 85%! The census from 2010 shows the current population at 56,364. In addition to being the home to Santa Anita Park (the home of Seabiscuit), it is also the home of the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, where sits the Queen Anne Cottage that Baldwin had built for his fourth wife.


By Scott Piotrowski