Author Ray Bradbury, who’s visiting Pomona on Friday, visited at least twice in the 1970s, both times at the behest of civic groups, to present ideas on rescuing the city’s downtown. He’s no architect, but he’s a fan of architecture, and some of his design concepts were used in San Diego’s Horton Plaza. He’s long had interesting things to say about urban design.
In 1973, he offered concepts for Pomona’s ailing pedestrian mall. In 1978, he spoke as part of a “Save the Fox” program, during a period in which the theater was used as a civic auditorium.
Among his ideas for downtown: winding pavement, an artificial river, theaters, performing arts, open-air dining, shops, a farmers market and, intriguingly, an orange grove near a Mexican restaurant to evoke Pomona’s early days. The whole effect, he said, should be “theatrical” and “fun” and should offer activity until midnight.
“Make the kind of place people will talk about,” Bradbury urged in 1973. Five years later, he said downtown appeared to be fading and said the whole thing should be rethought: “You must do it or you’ll be bled dry by surrounding malls.”
Civic leaders gave him a proclamation, shook his hand and evidently ignored everything he said. Yet more than 30 years later, the Fox has been saved, the arts are a linchpin and some nights there is activity until the wee hours. Something tells me nobody has had the imagination to consider planting an orange grove, though.
You can read the Progress-Bulletin articles on Bradbury’s twin visits by clicking on the thumbnail versions below. Thanks to the Pomona Public Library’s special collections department for locating the articles.