Pasadena? Close but not there yet.
When we hear a media report on another NASA accomplishment “Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Calif” often pops up. But the truth is the famous laboratory is claimed by two rival cities: Pasadena and La Cañada Flintridge.
And the latter one is its true home as it can be seen on a sign just outside the facility saying “Welcome to the City of La Cañada Flintridge, Home of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.”
In other words, JPL has been physically located in La Cañada since 1976, but Pasadena has convinced the public otherwise.
Pasadena’s Mayor Terry Tornek said that the community have always considered that the NASA facility belonged to them so they feel entitled to “reap the benefits.”
“We claim it, and we love it,”
the mayor said.
Pasadena is also more famous that its rival city as it hosts Caltech, the Tournament of Roses Parade, and the Rose Bowl. Yet, for most people NASA’s famed laboratory is on that list too.
Mayor Tornek recalls that in a recent visit to China his host was left cold when he described his home city until he mentioned the laboratory.
And the myth that JPL is located in Pasadena is reinforced by Hollywood too. In the blockbuster movie “The Martian” depicting the adversities of a astronaut stranded on the Red Planet, the Chinese are co-opted by NASA and JPL to help them rescue the him. In the flick, the laboratory is also located in Pasadena.
Currently, it is easier for the public to relate with Pasadena when JPL comes into discussion. Only two news outlets are now trying to give credit to La Cañada in their pieces, but others just go with the flow.
CNN had a brief attempt to prevent Pasadena from being mentioned in a an article describing NASA’s Juno spacecraft visit to Jupiter. The piece started with “Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California,” but a few paragraphs lower Pasadena popped up again. Even Associated Press and JPL place the facility in Pasadena.
Most live broadcasts from JPL are now “located” in Pasadena, though they really aren’t. So, La Cañada, which tried to secure its position as home of the famous lab via that sign in 2006, is most of the times left out of the limelight.
Image Source: Wikimedia