For one year, a young Barack Obama lived in Pasadena, and now the apartment where he dwelled is being permanently landmarked. Over the weekend, a plaque was laid outside of 253 East Glenarm Street to commemorate the building’s presidential status.
“There is tremendous interest that there is sort of a living link between Pasadena and the President of the United States,” Pasadena mayor Terry Tornek told KPCC at the dedication of the plaque.
The future President Obama lived in Pasadena from 1980 to 1981 while a sophomore at Occidental College. After that year, he would transfer to Columbia, then head off to Harvard Law School, before graduating and returning to Chicago to begin the community organizing career that would, ultimately, take him to the White House.
While his time at Occidental may seem like only a small footnote in his overall biography, the school served as the backdrop for what is recorded as President Obama’s first-ever public speech on a political topic, a plea for the college to divest itself from South African businesses in protest of the policy of apartheid.
Pasadena city councilman Steve Madison was behind the campaign to install the plaque, which has been in the works for almost five years. Evidentially, President Obama didn’t keep track of his college address, because Pasadena city and library staff had to comb through old records and telephone books to track down exactly which building hosted the budding politician. Even now, they’re not releasing which exact unit was Obama’s, because the building is still a private apartment, not set up for tourists making pilgrimages. Fans of the 44th president will have to restrict their photo ops to the historical marker in the sidewalk outside.
With the rumors continuing to swirl that the Obamas are investing in a SoCal home, maybe he'll be spotted around his old stomping grounds more often in the coming years.
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