Saturday, May 03, 2014

The Farmer's Market, Los Angeles

One of Los Angeles' most beloved landmarks is the Farmer's Market on the corner of 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue. It opened in 1934, which makes it ancient by L.A. standards. The humble and lovable clock tower (seen in all three of today's photos) is a magnificent two stories high! Man, I've seen it all, now.

This first photo is from 1961. I remember going to the Market with my grandparents when I was a kid. The things that made the biggest impression on me were the toy stores (there were at least two) - we always got some little treat there. And then there was the place that made peanut butter from fresh roasted peanuts. It smelled so good, and you got to watch the peanut butter emerge from the machine - it was better than most TV shows. Of course there are shops that sell fresh produce, seafood, meat, and all manner of products. I like the store that sells a jillion kinds of hot sauce!

To the left, in the distance, you can just see part of CBS' "Television City", where programs such as "The Carol Burnett Show", "All in the Family", "Welcome Back Kotter", and "Three's Company" (to name but a few) were filmed. Before a live studio audience, and with an overworked laugh track machine.

One year later! Yes, 1962. Me good at math. After many years of neglecting the Farmer's Market, I drove over there, probably around 1990, and found that it felt much the same as I remembered it. The peanut butter was still there, as were toy stores (different ones, I think). I still have the vintage Mickey Mouse toy that I purchased that day.

In 2002, a huge upscale outdoor marketplace known as "The Grove" opened next door to the Farmer's Market. Happily, the Market itself still thrives, and even though it is dwarfed by its ginormous neighbor, once you are among the restaurants and shops, it feels very much like it did in the old days. I was there early on a Sunday morning just a few months ago and enjoyed a pleasant breakfast in an atmosphere that is unlike anyplace else in Los Angeles.

This photo is from 1963!

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to The Farmer's Market!


TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I recently drove past the Farmer's Market for the first time in a very long time and was surprised to see that part of it was completely gone. The entire wing of the market that can be seen to the left of the clock tower in your first photo has been bulldozed. I think there was a toy store in that wing, along with a magazine stand/store, and also a camera store. I remember going into that camera store and finding a strip of Disneyland slides with photos of the Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderalnd and another strip with a shot of Captain Hook's Pirate Ship and Skull Rock....long after those attractions had disappeared from Disneyland. Of course I had to buy them! It's sad to think that part of the Farmer's Market has now disappeared....not just the camera shop, but the entire building. They ruin everything, don't they?

K. Martinez said...

I don't remember the shops side of the Farmer's Market, but have lots of memories of the produce and food concessions area. I loved dining at all the various cafes and eateries and looking in the bakery window to see elaborate cakes and other baked items. Between that and all the produce stands it was a colorful magical place. I used to love Farmer's Market with a passion, however it just doesn't have the same feel to me anymore. These photos bring back a flood of memories from those 60's & 70's days at the Market. Thanks ,Major.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Nothing is as rare as a running Corvair!

Nanook said...

I grew up around the Farmers Market and remember it quite well - including the "north" buildings. Oh, you betcha there was a toy store there, among (obviously) many other shops - including a camera store, jewelry store and on and on. Back then, in the parking lot between the north buildings and the traditional stalls sat three-? "out buildings", which housed a myriad of businesses over the years. My favorite as a kid was the one featuring modern kitchen ideas. Not "quite" as futuristic as The House of Future - they were selling currently-available products, after all, but it was still 'cutting edge' - especially for the late 1950's.

Originally that entire area was owned by the Gilmore family, and also included: the Gilmore Drive-In; Gilmore Bank; Gilmore Field; Gilmore Stadium and the Pan Pacific Auditorium. I saw many a film at the drive-in and I believe I saw the Hollywood All-Stars play at Gilmore Stadium. (The stadium ocupied the area just south of that now inhabited by CBS).

I havent seen the results of Rick Caruso's "handiwork", but no doubt it's a "lovely" shopping experience - as if the world needed yet another place to spend Big Bucks for things they don't need, with, in many cases, money they don't have.

Thanks, Major for sharing these images.

Nanook said...


Almost forgot about the Gilmore Gas Station.

Nanook said...

Whoops, again. The Gilmore Stadium occupied essentially the area where CBS now resides. Gilmore Field was slightly south and to the east of the Stadium - just north of the Gilmore Drive-In.

And if I saw The Hollywood Stars play, that would've been at Gilmore Field. (I'm not old enough to have been to the Stadium, as CBS was already there). So confusing.

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I know that not all of the old market is there anymore, but I am glad that they saved at least some of it. I'm sure that the original plans were probably to tear it down completely! Hey, have you shared your old slides on your blog? And yes, I am at that stage in my life where it feels like many changes are not for the better.

K. Martinez, the early-morning breakfast that I mentioned in my post was interesting. Once I was back in the area where I met my friend, it was like taking a trip back in time, honestly! It was pretty neat.

Alonzo, is the Corvair the one that can be described as baby sh*t color in photo #2?

Nanook, you are lucky to have experienced the Market in such a familiar way. I only remember it from a few trips as a child. OH, I do remember seeing Ross Martin from "The Wild Wild West" there, as far as I know that is my first celebrity sighting ever. As for The Grove, I don't hate it - it is nice as shopping centers go. BUT… lacking in the history and charm of the Farmer's Market.

Nanook again, I am aware of the Gilmore influence in that area… in fact I just found some slides, one of which was taken from the front of Television City, and over to the right you can see "Gilmore Gas", which is pretty neat. I used to be friends with an older couple who talked about seeing baseball games and watching car races over at Gilmore Stadium and Gilmore Field, respectively. Those were the days!

Anonymous said...

My Dad loved this place, we visited on the way home from our Disneyland trips.

He told me that he had delivered produce there, or maybe picked it up, in the years when it first opened. He would have been in his 20's. I know he worked for a grocery store in that time, so he might have been picking up things for sale at his store.

We saw the changes on a trip a few years back. Sad to see the old small scale places getting crushed, but that's progress .

Thank you for these memorable pics and the great stories of others memories.


PS, mustn't forget DuPar's!