Both the City of Alhambra, California and the Alhambra Palace in Grenada, Spain stand as a testament that the strength and beauty of the future will always be built on the foundations and dreams of the past.
Once called the City of Houses, Alhambra, California has welcomed many waves of immigrants with open arms. This diversity is evident in the range of historical architecture that can still be seen today. Each group of people comes with different experiences, talents and goals but they all have a shared dream to make this life more beautiful.
Currently Alhambra benefits from an above-national average Asian population. The city has a thriving economy with many Chinese restaurants and businesses.
For the most part, Alhambra is considered a quiet town by most and enjoys a low crime rate for a city of its size. The city has recently undergone several renovation and restoration projects. These projects are projected to draw new business and increase the home values without sacrificing the peaceful atmosphere appreciated by the current residents.
Benjamin Davis Wilson set foot on California soil in 1840. He only meant to stay at the Mission San Gabriel for a short period of time before continuing on to China. He was enchanted by this budding area and made it his home. He bought a ranch in 1843 and married in 1844. He was well liked and quickly earned the nickname Don Benito or Little Ben. He sided with California in their fight for independence and later joined with the United States after much political unrest. He was captured and sentenced to death. He narrowly escaped with his life and returned home. Along with the help of his son in-law, Wilson bought large tracts of land and divided it into many of the areas now know in the San Gabriel Valley.
Alhambra was finally incorporated on Saturday, July 11, 1903.
What’s in a name?
Wilson settled on the name Alhambra at the pleadings of his youngest daughter, Ruth. The ten year old girl had recently read Washington Irving’s book: The Tales of Alhambra. She was captivated by the vivid countryside Irving described and imagined that the mountain landscape she saw, from her window, was the romantic scenery of Grenada, Spain. In the spirit of Alhambra, Wilson named many landmarks and streets after the late Spanish influence. This heritage can still be seen today.
Washington Irving travels to Spain
At the turn of the century the well-loved writer, Washington Irving traveled to Grenada, Spain and was invited to stay at the awe inspiring Alhambra Palace. During his visit, he penned a travel manuscript that would later be published under the title The Tales of Alhambra. These writings described a romantic and exciting history behind the exquisite palace. The red walls conceal the grandeur. Layers and layers of motifs, pillars, designs and additions whisper of dozens of dreams and ideas. Irving told of the rise and fall of governments and peoples. He swept the readers away and revealed to them that the real glory of Alhambra Palace is the mosaic of human lives that created it.
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