Where Is Caltech Located?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

California Institute of Technology front view

Where is Caltech Located?

Where is CaltechCaltech stands as a powerhouse of academic excellence and scientific discovery in Pasadena, California. Known worldwide for its blend of innovation, tradition, and community involvement, this institution is a hub for those dreaming of careers in science and engineering. In this blog, we’ll dive into what sets Caltech apart, from where it is located to its significant influence on Pasadena.

Where is Caltech located?

Caltech is located at 1200 E California Blvd in Pasadena, California. This location provides an environment that supports students’ academic endeavors and personal growth. Pasadena offers access to art, history, and science, enriching Caltech students’ education beyond traditional classroom settings.

The city’s cultural heritage complements their studies, providing a comprehensive academic experience. The proximity of Caltech to scientific and technological hubs, including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory managed for NASA, enables students to engage in leading-edge research and collaborative projects. This direct involvement in practical applications of their theoretical knowledge enhances their educational journey.

The natural scenery around Pasadena, with the San Gabriel Mountains and the region’s mild climate, offers a picturesque backdrop for students. Outdoor activities provide a necessary balance, promoting well-being alongside academic pursuits. The city’s lively social scene, from culinary offerings to markets and cafes, enriches the Caltech student experience. This vibrant community life ensures students have opportunities to connect, creating a supportive environment.

caltech sign

Is Caltech private or public?

Caltech is a private research university in Pasadena, California, known for its focus on science and engineering. Its private status grants Caltech flexibility to allocate resources towards cutting-edge research and maintain a low student-to-faculty ratio, ensuring personalized student attention. This environment supports close interactions with leading scientists and engineers, enhancing the educational experience.

Additionally, Caltech’s ability to offer advanced facilities and financial aid packages reduces financial barriers for students, facilitating access to research opportunities. For students passionate about science and engineering, Caltech offers a unique opportunity to engage deeply with their field of interest, supported by a community that values innovation and discovery.

A Brief History of Caltech

Caltech has grown from a local vocational school in 1891 to a leading institution in science and engineering. Here’s how Caltech transformed, its key discoveries, and prospects.

From Throop to Caltech: A Transformation

Founded in Pasadena, California, by Amos G. Throop, the institution initially focused on practical arts and crafts education. Visionaries like George Ellery Hale, Arthur Amos Noyes, and Robert Andrews Millikan shifted their direction towards research, renaming it Caltech in 1920. This marked its pivot to science and technology.

Groundbreaking Discoveries and Innovations

Caltech’s contributions include significant physics, chemistry, and space exploration advances. Physicist Richard Feynman revolutionized quantum electrodynamics, winning a Nobel Prize in 1965. Another Nobel laureate, Linus Pauling, laid the groundwork for quantum chemistry and molecular biology.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), affiliated with Caltech, has been essential in missions like the Voyager probes and Mars rovers, enhancing our understanding of space and leading to technological advancements.

Engineering Breakthroughs

In engineering, Caltech introduced earthquake-resistant building techniques and made strides in renewable energy. Its bioengineering research has significantly impacted DNA sequencing and genetic engineering, contributing to new medical technologies.

Caltech’s Future

Caltech continues to lead in research and innovation, fostering interdisciplinary studies and preparing future scientists and engineers. Its commitment to research excellence promises further contributions to society.

How big is the Caltech campus?

Caltech, located in Pasadena, California, covers 124 acres. It’s known for fostering future science, engineering, and technology leaders. Here, we’ll explore Caltech’s academic environment, research facilities, student life, and its impact beyond campus.

Academic Environment

Caltech promotes creativity and collaboration through small class sizes and a low student-to-faculty ratio. Facilities include modern labs, lecture halls, and libraries. The Sherman Fairchild Library offers study spaces and resources for students.

Research Facilities

The campus is home to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the Kavli Nanoscience Institute, and the Seismological Laboratory. These centers provide unique research opportunities and bring together scholars globally.

Student Life

Caltech’s campus life includes various clubs and organizations. The Bechtel Residence highlights Caltech’s inclusive community. Traditions and pranks create a sense of camaraderie.

Impact Beyond Campus

Caltech’s influence extends beyond Pasadena, engaging the broader community through lectures, outreach programs, and school partnerships. Its contributions to various fields show the global impact of campus initiatives.

What are the available facilities inside Caltech?

Caltech is renowned for its advanced facilities and tools essential for groundbreaking scientific discoveries and engineering innovations. These resources include:

Caltech building

  • Global Observatories and Telescopes: Caltech operates world-class telescopes and observatories, such as the Laser-Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), which is necessary for detecting gravitational waves for the first time.
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL): A leading center for robotic space and Earth science missions.
  • Space Telescopes and Astronomy Centers: Facilities like Spitzer, NuSTAR, WISE, and the IPAC support cutting-edge astronomical research.
  • Particle Physics: The Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland, facilitates high-energy physics experiments.
  • Fluid Mechanics and Aerospace Engineering Labs: Equipped with shock and wind tunnels for research in hypersonic aircraft and fluid dynamics.
  • Nanoscience and Materials Science: The Kavli Nanoscience Institute and leading solar fuel research labs are at the forefront of materials science.
  • Chemistry and Biology Research: The Beckman Institute hosts numerous facilities focused on innovative instruments for chemistry and biology.
  • Genomics and Neuroscience: Gene sequencing facilities and advanced imaging labs support genetics, neuroscience, and neuroeconomics research.
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences: Global seismic networks and labs for studying Earth’s interior and surface dynamics contribute to our understanding of the planet.
  • Atmospheric and Environmental Science: Facilities dedicated to atmospheric science and sustainability research.
  • Historical and Cultural Resources: The collection of Albert Einstein’s papers and over 6 million historical manuscripts are accessible for scholarly work.
  • Braun Athletic Center: Located on the Caltech campus, this offers sports and fitness resources.
  • Gymnasiums and Fields: Including Braun Gymnasium, Scott Brown Gymnasium, North Field, Fox Stanton Track, and South Field, catering to various sports.
  • Tennis Courts: Well-maintained courts for tennis enthusiasts.
  • Swimming Pools: Braun and Alumni pools for swimming and water sports.
  • The Barn: A multipurpose space for athletic activities.
  • Sports Medicine Facilities: Equipped with whirlpools and training centers for athlete care.
  • Caltech Childcare Center: A LEED Gold-certified facility providing sustainable childcare services.
  • Parker Research Lab Space in BBB: Offers advanced lab spaces for scientific research.
  • Jorgensen Labs: A LEED Platinum-certified lab space promoting cutting-edge research.
  • Linde Hall Collaboration Area: Designed to foster collaboration and innovation among researchers and students.
  • Bechtel Residence Inner Courtyard: A LEED Platinum-certified residential space that combines sustainability with student living.
  • Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies: Focuses on developing autonomous systems and technologies.
  • Hameetman Center: A LEED Gold-certified community center hub for student activities and collaboration.
  • Resnick Sustainability Center (2024): Upcoming facility dedicated to advancing research in sustainability.
  • Gates-Thomas Lab: A LEED Gold-certified lab that supports engineering and scientific research.
  • Keck Center: Recognized with a LEED Platinum certification, this center is at the forefront of scientific research.
  • Gao Lab: Provides specialized facilities for advanced research in various scientific fields.
  • Chen Neuroscience Research Building: A LEED Gold-certified building dedicated to neuroscience research, emphasizing sustainable design and innovation.

What is Caltech known for?

Caltech is a top spot for science and engineering. It attracts bright minds and uses advanced tools to solve scientific questions and societal challenges. With breakthroughs in quantum science, bioinformatics, human behavior, and sustainability, Caltech leads in technology and understanding the universe.

Why Caltech Is Unique

Caltech is small but rivals larger institutions in excellence and ambition, with a history of 46 Nobel Prizes among faculty and alumni. It operates the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA and has major research facilities like the Seismological Laboratory and global astronomical observatories.

Caltech offers a personalized and challenging education with one of the lowest student-to-faculty ratios. Its 2,400 students have access to over 300 professors and hands-on research opportunities. Located in Pasadena, California, Caltech is an independent, privately funded institution.

Huntington Library

Caltech’s Goal: Knowledge for Society

Caltech’s goal is to advance human knowledge for societal benefit. Founded in 1891, it combines research and education in an interdisciplinary setting, aiming for academic excellence and societal impact. The institute’s academic structure spans six divisions, supporting various interests, highlighted by its tradition of 46 Nobel Laureates. Caltech focuses on selective admissions, financial aid, and student success.

Preparing Future Innovators

Caltech excels in creating an environment for innovation. Its faculty, research facilities, and focus on solving complex problems prepare students to advance scientific knowledge and become field leaders.

What is outside the Caltech campus?

Exploring the area around the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California, reveals a mix of natural beauty, scientific milestones, and cultural richness. Caltech is renowned for academic and research excellence and is close to attractions that offer learning and leisure.

1. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

Just a short drive from Caltech, The Huntington is a haven for art lovers, historians, and nature enthusiasts. It offers an extensive collection of art, rare books, and manuscripts in magnificent galleries and library exhibition halls. The botanical gardens cover approximately 120 acres and feature ecosystems, including a Japanese Garden, a Desert Garden, and a Chinese Garden, providing a tranquil retreat for contemplation and inspiration.

2. Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco

Arroyo Seco, a natural and recreational paradise, offers hiking trails, cycling paths, and scenic spots for picnics and relaxation. This area is a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts and provides a natural escape from the academic rigor of Caltech.

3. Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

Operated by Caltech for NASA, JPL is a leader in robotic space exploration and planetary science. Although not directly accessible to the general public without prior arrangement, JPL occasionally offers tours and has an educational visitor center. The proximity to Caltech enhances collaborative opportunities and offers students a unique insight into space exploration endeavors.

4. The Pasadena Museum of History

This museum offers insights into the rich history of Pasadena and its evolution over time, including its contributions to science and technology. The exhibits and archives provide a context for understanding the area’s significance beyond the Caltech campus.

5. Old Pasadena

Old Pasadena, known for its historic buildings, unique shops, and diverse cuisine, offers a lively atmosphere contrasting with the academic environment. This district, where Caltech is located, hosts various events throughout the year, including cultural festivals and art walks, enriching the social life of those affiliated with Caltech.

6. The Rose Bowl

Famous for the annual Rose Bowl Game and the Tournament of Roses Parade, this iconic stadium centers sporting and entertainment events in Pasadena. It’s a gathering place for community and tradition, reflecting the spirited culture of the area.

7. Innovate Pasadena

An initiative to foster collaboration and innovation within the Pasadena community, Innovate Pasadena hosts events, workshops, and meetups that bring together entrepreneurs, scientists, and technologists. Caltech students and faculty often engage with this network, contributing to and benefiting from the vibrant local tech and startup scene.

8. Pasadena City College (PCC)

PCC offers a range of educational programs and events that complement Caltech’s academic offerings. Joint seminars, guest lectures, and community engagement opportunities provide avenues for interaction and collaboration between students and faculty of both institutions.

Caltech Dorms and Other Housing Options

Exploring your future home at Caltech? Here’s a guide to the dorms, houses, and residences available on campus, ensuring you find the perfect fit.


1. Avery House

Avery House, added to Caltech’s housing options 1996, provides 135 bed spaces in singles, doubles, and triples. It has air conditioning, Wi-Fi, Ethernet ports, and ADA-accessible units. Lounges, kitchens, a dining area, a piano, and two laundry rooms on the first floor are conveniently available. Bathrooms are gender-specific and gender-neutral.

2. Bechtel Residence

Bechtel Residence offers 211 bed spaces in rooms and suites. Furnishings include data ports, Wi-Fi, and climate control. Enjoy the outdoor courtyard, dining hall, and communal areas with lounges, kitchens, laundry, and study rooms. Living spaces come with private bathrooms and suite lounges.

3. Marks/Braun House

Marks/Braun House adjusts its single and double-room offerings based on housing demand. Amenities include window air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet. A kitchen, laundry room, and air-conditioned lounge with a TV are located in Caltech’s Marks/Braun House basement.

4. North Houses

Since 1960, the North Houses have accommodated students, offering mainly double rooms with lofted beds. Features include dining halls, lounges, kitchens, and house-specific spaces. Both gendered and gender-neutral bathrooms are available.

5. Lloyd House

Lloyd House has 80 double rooms with window air conditioning and internet access. Facilities include lounges, kitchens, a dining hall connected to the Browne Cafe, and a shared laundry facility.

6. Page House

Page House provides 86 double rooms with window air conditioning and internet access. Facilities include lounges, kitchens, a dining hall, and shared laundry facilities.

7. Venerable House

Located within the Caltech campus, Venerable House offers 88 bed spaces in double rooms with window air conditioning and internet access. Amenities include lounges, kitchens, a dining hall, and a shared laundry facility.

8. South Houses

The South Houses, the oldest Caltech residential area, mainly offer single rooms, doubles, and triples. Amenities include central air conditioning, internet access, kitchens, lounges, and dining halls. All bathrooms are gender-neutral.

9. Blacker House

Blacker House provides 64 bed spaces in singles, doubles, and triples with central air conditioning and internet access. Communal kitchens, a main lounge, a dining hall, and shared laundry facilities are available.

10. Dabney House

Dabney House has 64 bed spaces in singles, doubles, and triple, with central air conditioning and internet access. It features kitchens, a lounge, a dining hall, and shared laundry facilities.

11. Fleming House

Fleming House has 80 bed spaces in singles, doubles, and triples with central air conditioning and internet access. Kitchens, a main lounge, a dining hall, and shared laundry facilities are central to the community.

12. Ricketts House

Ricketts House offers 68-bed spaces in singles and doubles with central air conditioning and internet access. Amenities include kitchens, a lounge, a dining hall, and shared laundry facilities.

What is Caltech’s impact on Pasadena?

Since its founding in 1891, Caltech has grown from a small college to a world leader in research and education. This growth story shows how deeply Caltech has intertwined with Pasadena’s identity. Let’s explore Caltech’s broad impact on Pasadena, from its economic contributions and tech innovations to community programs and cultural events.

Airial view caltech


Caltech’s Historic Milestones

Caltech graduate students started the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in 1936, marking Pasadena’s entry into space exploration. This move from simple rocket experiments to leading space missions showcases Caltech’s critical role in making Pasadena a science center.

Caltech’s Economic Engine

Caltech’s culture of innovation has birthed numerous tech startups, turning Pasadena into a tech hub. Companies like Resonant Link, born from Caltech’s research, show how academic work can fuel economic growth and attract skilled workers to Pasadena.

Caltech also attracts significant research funding, like the $750 million from the Breakthrough Prize Foundation in 2020 for environmental research. This funding supports groundbreaking studies and benefits Pasadena’s economy by creating jobs and boosting local businesses.

Engaging the Community

Caltech, located in Pasadena, introduces local high school students to hands-on research through its Young Engineering and Science Scholars program, nurturing future scientists and engineers. In addition, through events like the annual Caltech Science for March, Caltech invites you and your neighbors to meet scientists and learn about their work, promoting a community that values scientific literacy.

Leading in Innovation and Tech

The Caltech Seismological Laboratory leads the way in earthquake science, improving safety protocols and building standards in Pasadena and beyond. Caltech quickly developed COVID-19 testing protocols and studied the virus’s spread, helping Pasadena manage the pandemic effectively. Caltech’s partnership with Pasadena City College allows community college students to work on research projects, preparing them for STEM careers.

Enriching Pasadena’s Cultural Life

Caltech’s public lectures and performances bring renowned speakers and artists to Pasadena, enriching the city’s cultural scene and sparking intellectual curiosity among residents.

Famous Landmarks Inside the Caltech Campus

Caltech’s campus is a place for world-class education and research and several noteworthy landmarks. Here’s a guide to some of the most significant spots:

1. Neuroscience Research Building

A modern marvel of architecture featuring glass structures, bronze panels, and a desert garden filled with succulents and ferns. It’s recommended to enter via the garden on Del Mar for a serene experience. By night, the center of the building glows with soft blue light, creating a picturesque view.

2. Beckman Institute

Known for its stunning Spanish mission style, this building encases a chemistry and biological research center. Its courtyard, complete with a unique water-coated polyhedron sculpture and a reflecting pool named the “Gene Pool,” showcases a blend of artistic and scientific brilliance.

3. Beckman Auditorium

Caltech’s gem of Space Age architecture by Edward Durell Stone, the auditorium is recognized for its circular design, unique lanterns, and starburst column tops. It hosts public events as a cultural center amidst academic excellence.

4. Hameetman Center

The student hub features cafes, a Caltech store, and an innovative sundial where one’s shadow tells the time. This building is a blend of functionality and creativity, designed to serve as a central meeting point for students.

5. Fleming House Cannon

A historic cannon from the Franco-Prussian War is now a quirky landmark on campus. Its history of being stolen for pranks adds a layer of intrigue and student tradition to its presence.

One of the walkways in Caltech campus

6. Throop Memorial Garden

It is a tranquil retreat with a turtle pond, representing the site of the original Throop Hall. Lush with trees and home to sunbathing turtles, this garden offers a peaceful escape from the rigors of academic life.

7. Caltech Library and Pond

Overlooking Throop Garden, the library, located on the Caltech campus, is the tallest structure, offering panoramic views that embody the institution’s stature. The reflecting pool and kinetic sculpture add to the serene academic environment, embodying the blend of nature and intellect.

8. San Pasqual Walk

This is a major pedestrian pathway known for its significance in genetic studies. It is also lined with diverse trees, as well as the Iris Garden. This walk offers a glimpse into the campus’s rich botanical diversity.

9. Calder Arches

An architectural feature is bridging two buildings adorned with stonework representing various academic and elemental concepts. This blend of art and architecture symbolizes the fusion of disciplines for which Caltech is renowned.

10. Bechtel Mall

A picturesque entrance to Caltech, flanked by Spanish mission-style arcades, features the unique “Perception” sculpture. It serves as both a welcoming path and an artistic exploration.


Caltech is a vibrant community dedicated to pushing the boundaries of knowledge and innovation. Its impact on Pasadena and the world at large showcases the transformative power of education and research, making it a place of inspiration for aspiring scientists and engineers.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.