Signs renaming a portion of the Ventura (134) Freeway the President Barack H. Obama Highway have been installed on a stretch of the road between the Glendale (2) Freeway and the Foothill (210) Freeway.
The freeway includes the exits for Occidental College, where Obama attended classes from 1979 to 1981. At that time, the 44th president lived in an apartment on East Glenarm Street in Pasadena.
State Sen. Anthony Portantino, who represents Eagle Rock, where Occidental College is located, introduced the bill renaming the highway.
At a plaque dedication ceremony at Obama’s former apartment building on Dec. 17, 2016, several local residents suggested that Portantino name a portion of the freeway after Obama, given the president’s connection to the area.
Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Eagle Rock, co-authored the resolution with Portantino.
Obama and his wife Michelle visited Pasadena several times during his campaigns and presidency. The president returned to Highland Park in June 2015 to appear on Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast on which he spoke fondly of his time living in the area.
“This is an exciting day for Southern California and it showcases our deep respect and appreciation for President Obama. The president has often mentioned his fond memories of living in Pasadena and attending Occidental College, so it was very appropriate to name the portion of the freeway he traveled after him,” Portantino said in a prepared statement.
The Pasadena Community Foundation (PCF) and Portantino hosted an event on Sept. 23 to raise money to install the signs labeling the highway after Obama. It was not immediately known how much money was raised at the event.
“Our community came together to make this happen,” Portantino said. “It is an honor to be in a position to have helped facilitate this wonderful symbol of our collective respect for the grace and dignity embodied by our 44th president.”
Obama’s portion of the freeway is close to a portion of the Foothill Freeway honoring Jackie Robinson, who grew up in Pasadena and broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.