Established in 1902 as one of Pasadena’s two earliest parks (on land purchased contemporaneously with that for Memorial Park), this ten-acre rectangular greensward occupies several blocks in the heart of the city. Situated south of the Hotel Green (completed in 1893), and adjacent to the Santa Fe Railroad Station (which began operating in 1887), the centrally located park provided recreational space for tourists. After the City purchased the land, landscape architect Thomas Chisholm designed the Picturesque park to include extensive lawns, a bowling court, and a tourist club all connected by a serpentine pathway. A stone horse trough donated by the National Humane Society in 1905 was installed in the park’s northeast corner.
In 1927, Ralph Cornell was commissioned to redesign both Central and Memorial Parks. Reflective of the Beaux Arts style, Cornell’s design for Central Park included a centrally-located elliptical path that enclosed an open lawn and connected to the surrounding street by arcing walkways. Bowling greens and clay roque courts (similar to croquet) were located in the southern end while a playground, formal flower gardens, and an aviary were located in the north. The horse trough was repurposed to serve as a fountain. In 1929 a Spanish Colonial Revival clubhouse designed by architect Wallace Neff was constructed between the bowling greens and roque courts. Groupings of palm, eucalyptus, acacia, and camphor laurel punctuated the park and lined its paths. The park was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 as a contributing feature of the Old Pasadena Historic District.