Originally known as Library Park for Pasadena’s first library, a stone Romanesque building constructed on-site in 1890, this five-acre park was one of the earliest established in the city. Created in 1902 along with the nearby Central Park, the triangular green space is bordered to the east by a railroad completed in 1887 and on the west by Raymond Avenue, lined with palms when the park was established. A serpentine network of paths transected wide expanses of open lawn, which were punctuated by trees, shrubs, and a gazebo. On Memorial Day, 1906 a Civil War monument was dedicated. In 1927 when the library collection was relocated off-site, the firm Cook, Hall & Cornell was commissioned to redesign both Library and Central Parks.
Ralph Cornell’s interest in experimenting with local and exotic plants is apparent in the park’s design with the use of masses of distinctive coniferous and deciduous trees including the massive bunya-bunya imported from Australia, towering palms, and flowering shrubs. In 1930, an Art Deco band shell was constructed, designed by architect Edward Mussa and dedicated by the American Legion on Memorial Day. Two years later the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War dedicated two tiled fountains designed by Ernest Batchelder. A number of other memorials have been installed in the park over the years. The library, damaged by an earthquake in 1933, was dismantled in 1954, though the entrance arch was preserved and still stands at the northwest corner of the park. In 1983, Memorial Park was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Civic Center Historic District.