When Tsien arrived in Pasadena in the summer of 1949, he displayed every indication of settling there permanently It was known at Cattech that he wanted to buy a house, but that racism and even legal restrictions would make it difficult for him to do so. The "covenant codes" of house deeds in certain affluent areas of Los Angeles prohibited residents from selling their homes to nonwhites. Consequently, in June 1949, Tsien decided to rent for his family the home where he used to live in the 1940s: a one-story redwood clapboard and brick house surrounded by a large lawn and eucalyptus trees.
The house rested at the very end of East Buena Loma Court, a quiet cul-de- sac in the unincorporated residential area of Altadena. With little traffic, it was the ideal neighborhood for raising children. Inside, a long hall bisected the house, separating the dining room, living room, kitchen, and laundry from three bedrooms. The living room was comfortably furnished and had a phonograph; Tsien and his wife spent long hours listening to classical music there.
Tsien's home became the center of a tiny social circle, a small core of people at Caltech or JPL with whom Tsien was becoming close. Among his friends were Frank Marble, a thirty-one-year-old fluid dynamics expert who joined the