The Atakapan and Karankawa Native American tribes originally inhabited the area around what was to become Pasadena, Texas. John H. Burnett, a former resident of Galveston, founded the town in 1893. He actually bought the land in 1890, but sold the first parcel of land in 1893, which began the colonization of the town. The first schoolhouse and railroads were built in the town by 1894.
The founders named the town after Pasadena, California, a town with a similarly lush landscape, and the landscape of Pasadena, Texas, proved perfect for strawberry farming. A member of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton, donated 1.5 million strawberry plants for area farmers after the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. The crops were profitable, and soon families and large farms in the area were growing strawberry crops to sell. The area was known as "Pasadena Acres" by the 1920s. In the late 1920s, gas, electricity and water utilities came to the town.
Pasadena's population was 200 in 1900, and a little over 3,400 by 1940. By World War II, industrial buildings replaced the strawberry farms, and the population grew to over 22,000 by 1950. As of 2014, Pasadena, Texas, has an estimated population of over 153,000.