In contrast to other affluent areas in Southern California, which have more glamorous, modern images, the well-heeled community of San Marino represents “old wealth” and a conservative, classic way of life. In 1903, when railroad magnate Henry Huntington acquired the grand Neo-Palladian Shorb family estate, named after the monastic site of San Marino in Italy, he sought to develop a community of beautiful estates surrounded by large, lavishly landscaped lots and meticulously maintained city streets. While the homes are sizable and opulent, they differ from the grandiose properties in communities like Bel-Air and Beverly Hills because of their stately and historic presence. At its inception, San Marino was a bastion of WASP gentry, attracting the most wealthy and successful of the time. In recent years, the community has gained a worldwide reputation for high-value real estate and status homes, and has become quite diverse ethnically, appealing especially to wealthy Asians. Since real estate values here have continued to rise and the safe, clean cultured quality of life is so prized here, San Marino has made many lists of top places in the country to invest and live.
There are many historic landmarks to be explored and enjoyed, for example: Huntington Gardens and Library; the Old Mill, The Michael White Adobe house, and the Edwin Hubble House, home of one of America's greatest 20th-century astronomers, are other points of pride in the community. Lacy Park, with its lavish rose gardens, community open air concerts, and shady tree-lined lawns, is a favorite family destination.