Del Mar Boulevard

Although Del Mar is a common California place name – it means “of the sea” in Spanish – this street has a more unlikely inspiration: landlocked St. Louis, MO. According to Hiram A. Reid’s 1895 book History of Pasadena, Del Mar Boulevard – originally Delmar Street – was named in 1885 by Susan Abby Defriez (1834-1916) and her son William Coffin Defriez Jr. (c. 1863-1926) as a nod to Delmar Avenue (now Boulevard) in their hometown of St. Louis. Given its early publishing date, Reid’s book is a reliable source for Pasadena street name origins, and the Defriezes did indeed come here from St. Louis in 1884 and owned land near the west end of this street. (Much of present-day Del Mar Blvd. was called Elevado Drive and Center Street until 1928; east of Hill Ave., it was called Charlevoix Street until 1930. It attained “boulevard” status in 1957.) As for how St. Louis named its own thoroughfare, an 1898 article in that city’s Globe-Democrat claimed that “Delmar” was a portmanteau of “Delaware” and “Maryland” and was coined (by 1873) by landowners from those two states.