In 1903, the City of Arcadia was incorporated by Elias J. Baldwin. Known as one of the great pioneers in California business, he earned the nickname “Lucky” through his success in a number of business dealings, including real estate and mining investments. Baldwin also held an interest in horse racing and purchased the Rancho Santa Anita in 1875, upon which he later built a racetrack. That track later burned down and famed Santa Anita Park was built in its place. The Rancho was eventually divided up to help form modern day Arcadia.
The Arcadia Chamber of Commerce traces its roots to 1914, beginning as the Arcadia Board of Trade. This group of 28 men paid a dollar initiation fee and monthly dues of 25 cents to be part of the board. Their goal was to “foster and encourage commerce, to stimulate home manufacturers, to assist in securing a market for the products, to induce immigration and the subdivision settlement and cultivation of our lands, to assist in the development of material resources and generally to promote the business interests of the City of Arcadia.” The last official meeting of the board was recorded on July 1, 1918.
Only three years later, the Chamber of Commerce was formed on Sept. 19, 1921.
It wasn’t until July 16, 1934, that the Chamber was officially incorporated, after bylaws were submitted in December 1933. During the year, the Arcadia Tribune called the Chamber a “live wire” group and credited support for the Chamber to the organization’s efforts to improve streets and the water system, plant trees, beautify homes, add street signs and support the building of everything from sidewalks, a new church and the Pacific Electric station, to a daily newspaper and factories, as well as represent Arcadia in the Rose Parade.
The Chamber helped promote the opening of Santa Anita Park at Christmastime in 1934, hanging welcome banners for the Los Angeles Turf Club and its patrons along Huntington Drive. In 1939, at the Stockton Fair, the Chamber even paraded the famous thoroughbred, Malicious, famed “2-miler,” who was known as the most popular horse in the West during the 1930s. Santa Anita Park once held special 2-mile races at the end of a race day just for Malicious, to attract the crowds, such was his popularity.
From 1949 to 1951, the Arcadia Peach Blossom Festival was created by the Chamber, initially combined with the dedication of the new city hall and civic center. The Fest in 1950 was tied in with the dedication of Memorial Grove at the rear of city hall. In 1951, there was a Peach Blossom Queen contest organized by Arcadia’s Junior Chamber of Commerce.