Friday, November 18, 2011

Gates (#5)

Today's Ostrich Farm is a collection of live/workspace loft condos ideal for artists, but back at the turn of the last century it was a destination so unusual, exciting and fun it has been called "the Disneyland of its day."

In 1896, The Cawston Ostrich Farm opened and quickly became a world-famous tourist attraction. In retrospect, it seems a little weird that people would travel from the far reaches of the globe in order to walk around a garden with 100 ostriches. Although, to be fair, the adult birds were over seven feet tall and the baby chicks were really, really cute.

Advertisements at the time boasted a bucolic setting "free from any boisterous element and strictly first-class." It only only cost a quarter to visit the farm, but the chic ostrich feather boas, capes, muffs and parasols at the gift shop could set you back more than a few dollars.

One of the highlights of a visit to the farm was the opportunity to feed an ostrich an orange picked from one of South Pasadena's many orchards. Imagine what happens when a large citrus fruit goes down a slender ostrich neck. Can you see it? It's a less-violent version of a snake eating a rodent. The fruit could take quite a while to make its way down and, apparently, watching it was considered great fun for the Victorian set.

Who am I to judge? Our generation made curling an Olympic sport!

Given the Ostrich Farm's famous past as well as its artistic present, I have to say: these gates need some serious improvement.

For a fantastic history of Cawston Ostrich Farm, check out our pal Petrea Burchard's article here. For some great historical shots and vintage postcards, click here.

This week, I take a look at some of South Pasadena's gates.

4 comments:

Judy Williams said...

I'm surprised they had people hand feed them. Ostriches are quite strong and can really hurt your hand with one of their beaks. We've been to a wildlife safari where you drive through, and the ostriches practically break their necks trying to get any food you may place on the edge of an open window. If you stuck your hand out, they might break it! HA

I love the idea of loft living. As much as I adore trees, I always thought it would be fun to live in one of the high rise ones with the old Chicago brick on the walls, and the exposed duct work in the ceiling.

I kind of rambled on enough.


Thanks for the history lesson. Looking at this pic, I'd have absolutely no idea of the past of this place. It kind of looks like a mid-century office plaza in the background. The gate is almost intimidating.

Anonymous said...

I wondered why this place was called the ostrich farm. Nifty bit of history.

Patricia said...

This is really interesting, I had no idea that this was part of South Pasadena's history. The only thing is, I have been to an ostrich farm, and stinky is a huge understatement!!! Kind of funny to think of visiting while possibly having to hold your nose.

TheChieftess said...

Interesting SoPas historical tidbit...loved Petrea's article, pics and the video too!!! I vaguely remember references to the Ostrich Farm back in the 50's...both my parents grew up in the area so I'm sure they both were there at one time...as a matter of fact...I'm thinking a photo of my dad at the farm might just be somewhere in the Murman archives!!