Fans of the hit NBC show Parks and Recreation will likely find images of Pawnee City Hall as familiar as Ron Swanson gulping down a large glass of Lagavulin. This is because this government building in real life is Pasadena City Hall, in Pasadena, California. Like most public spaces within reach of Hollywood, its impressive old architecture has been used in several films and TV shows.
Pasadena City Hall, built in 1927 was developed John Bakewell and Arthur Brown, who were influenced by the early Renaissance style of the 16th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio. Looking like it’s the official government structure of just about any American city, Pasadena City Hall is the perfect location for filming, whether it be inside its halls or outside in the clear landscape. The reason this 170,000-square-foot building might seem so familiar is because it has been a filming location ever since it first appeared on screen in Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 satirical film The Great Dictator. Since then, in addition to “Parks and Recreation”, the building has captured 44 other loans including American Pie 2, A Cinderella Story, and Beverly Hills Cop 2, not to mention many classic TV shows like Mission: Impossible and Dynasty.
With this iconic 235-room domed building located just 10 miles from Hollywood, this Pasadena structure will no doubt continue to appear in movies and TV shows for years to come. However, there’s a chance that his frequent appearances on Parks and Recreation could make him less desirable, as he could now get a foothold in viewers’ minds as Pawnee City Hall. For those who live near the actual building, this may not be a big deal, but fans will certainly hear the theme song “Parks and Recreation” playing in their head as they drive by.