Saturday, February 03, 2024

Los Angeles Farmer's Market

I have some vintage photos of the wonderful Farmer's Market in Los Angeles, on the corner of Fairfax and Third Street. A very brief history - The Farmer's Market in Los Angeles can trace its roots back to 1880, when Arthur Fremont Gilmore and his partner bought two dairy farms and over the decades, developed them for various uses, including oil drilling, and Gilmore Field, where the Hollywood Stars baseball team (owned by Bing Crosby, Barbara Stanwyck, and Cecil B. DeMille) played.

In 1934, the Original Farmers Market made its debut, with vendors selling produce, meat, ice cream, and just about anything you could think of. 

Here's a photo from 1978, showing its iconic clock tower, which is still there today. Notice CBS Television City in the distance, where programs such as The Carol Burnett Show, All in the Family, Three's Company, Welcome Back Kotter, and MANY others were filmed.

The next two photos are from 1968, and show the place very much as I remember it when my grandmother would take me and my siblings there for cheese enchiladas and an ice cream cone. Good times! One of my favorite things back then was to go to the booth that sold all kinds of nuts, to watch (and smell) the machine that produced home-made peanut butter. I remember that they had a photo of President Eisenhower buying some!

Here's a good representation of what it is like inside the warren of booths and shops, it has a certain atmosphere that is hard to describe. The last time I was there (years ago), I went early in the morning, and there were some locals eating their breakfast, while many of the vendors were just opening up their booths. It was a bit of "old L.A." that you can't find easily these days.


JB said...

1) I remember you telling us that you saw a celeb at the market; I can't who. But the fact that the CBS studios were nearby could explain the frequent sightings of celebs here.

2) It's like a picture of Disneyland's Flower Market... except the fruit isn't plastic!

3) This photo makes the place look irresistible! I would love to wander through the whole market. I'd buy something... probably an apple, an orange, and maybe a nanner. Plus something unusual, not food related, to keep as a memento.

"To market, to market to buy a fat pig". Well, maybe not a pig, but something. Thanks, Major.

Nanook said...

"... to watch (and smell) the machine that produced home-made peanut butter".

Why, that's Magee's, of course. LOOK HERE The smell of fresh peanuts being turned into warm, creamy peanut butter was downright intoxicating. I still have a one pint [1#] plastic container w/snap-on lid from the 1970's or 80's, formerly housing their 'Krunchy' Peanut Butter, now being used to store granulated sugar for 'small jobs' - the plastic refusing to craze or outright crack. I spent the first nine years of my life living fairly close to the Farmer's Market [and the Town & Country] across the street, so I have a cornucopia of memories of being there for a myriad of activities.

In the 2nd image, that's a 1966 Chrysler New Yorker, possibly in Formal Black. In front of it is a 1962 Chevrolet Impala, probably in Tuxedo Black. (It would appear that in 1962, Chevrolet and Chrysler were getting their color inspirations from the 'schmatte' business-!)

Thanks, Major.


Major: as soon as I saw today’s post the FIRST thing I thought of was the peanut butter machine! Somewhere I have a 1976 or 77 slide of me posing next to it.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, Farmer's Market had three clock towers. Two of them are still standing, but the one in the first pic was torn down, along with that entire wing of the market. Today, part of "The Grove" stands on that property. They ruin everything, don't they?

My aunt's in-laws had a produce business in the Farmer's Market, for many years. I have a Farmer's Market cookbook that belonged to them. It's from the seventies and contains recipe's contributed from all the various vendors in the market.

JG said...

Oh I love these pictures! The market had a distinct smell, not unpleasant, composed of all the fruits, wet cardboard, sawdust and frying things. I remember it exactly like this. Also remember the nut butter stand with Ike’s picture. We bought some once and I was amazed how it separated and had to be stirred every time you used it.

My Dad lived in LA with his cousins from 1930 to maybe 1937 or 38, worked in a grocery store part of that time. He dropped out of school and went off on his own so his younger brothers could finish school. His job sent him here to pick up produce to sell in the store where he worked. In the beginning, this market was not so much retail but wholesale. Farmers would bring their items to the market and sell out of their trucks. At least this what he told me.

We often would stop here on the way home from Disneyland, have breakfast or just wander around. Now that I’m old, I do the same with my early haunts and I understand why we stopped, Dad was reliving being 16.

Thanks Major, these are wonderful.


Nanook said...

@ JG-
Yes - 'that' smell. Interestingly, the Town & Country, sitting across 3rd Street - the property consisting of a mix of small retail businesses, restaurants, deli's, etc., parts of which seemed to have its own unique smell - also lingers in my memory.

Chuck said...

Photos of the way we don’t do things anymore. I realize the Farmer’s Market is still there, but this is how we used to do groceries everywhere once. This was still a thing in mid-sized “market towns” 25 years ago in England. I hope that never changed. It was a wonderful experience.

Glad you have such wonderful memories of the place, everyone. Thanks for posting, Major!

LTL said...

as a grade-schooler in VanNuys/ShermanOaks in the '60s, I would always see in the LA Times page 2 (or maybe 3) "meet me at the clock tower", with a cool drawing of it. I was intrigued, it seemed like one of those special places. Alas, we were not a Farmers Market family. I finally got there in high school, but by then it seemed too square.

only in the last several decades have I had a few chances to visit.... and it's so super cool!

thanks for these photos, Major

Anonymous said...

Like LTL, I too lived in the Valley...Sherman Oaks to be the early 60s. I was in 7th grade at the time. A journey with my folks to the Market was like going to Disneyland (well almost). The smells and uniqueness of such a large outdoor market made it a special outing for us all. Hearing others mention their memories, like the Market news in the LA Times brings back long forgotten memories. Nice post! KS


Some friends of mine lived in WEHO in the early 2000’s … off of Ogden … and further up Fairfax. After clubbing we sometimes ended up at Cantor’s across the street from the Farmers Market .. or end up at the Market on a lazy Sunday . One time we were having pie at Du-par’s Pie Shop …. And they were selling reproductions of 1950’s and 1969’s “pie attraction posters” they used to use to advertise the pies available then … they were very “Disneyland esque” … the pecan pie poster featured a 60’s stylized oldtime riverboat and some New Orleans railing etc… so I thought they would be so cool to have in a kitchen or breakfast nook …. Do I started picking out several to buy … then I stoped and wised up : I have more Disneyland and Walt Disney world attraction posters , signs and artwork and DON’T need to spend money on “pie attraction posters” from Du-par’s Pie Shop!!

David said...

I love going there -spent this afternoon wandering it, trying to beat the Atmospheric River Runs Through It before hits us. Not sure the High End Mall (AKA The Grove) attached to it makes logical sense, but it's LA, catering to tourist maxing out their CC is a sport.

Dean Finder said...

"From Television City, in Hollywood!"

Major Pepperidge said...

KS, I didn’t go to the Market a lot when I was a kid, but I was lucky to have an Encino grandma who liked to go do stuff with us. Olvera Street, Chinatown, the Natural History Museum, and yes, the Farmer’s Market. I was a very fortunate kid!

Mike Cozart, wow, I’m going to have to do a Google search to see if I can find some of those Du-par’s pie shop posters! I have to wonder if they’d observed the growing popularity of Disneyland’s attraction posters? If they weren’t too pricey I’d probably be tempted to acquire a few, but it’s probably wisest to just stick with what you already collect.

David, The Grove has its place (some good restaurants, for instance), but it’s disappointing that a large portion of the old Farmer’s Market is now gone for that shiny “new” shopping center.

Dean Finder, don't forget "Filmed in front of a live studio audience"!

walterworld said...

You should have bought the Pie Posters, just for (now) old times sake :D

Melissa said...

I almost went there on my California trip; it was one of the tour options, but I really wanted to see the school garden in Long Beach instead (and I wasn't disappointed). We did drive by the Market one day, so maybe it counts?

TokyoMagic! said...

It appears that the clock tower in that first photo was dismantled before the demolition of that entire wing of the market. It was later reassembled closer to the market's produce stalls, where it still stands today. So evidently, there were only two clock towers, but one of them has had two locations. The other clock tower is smaller and was the first one built. It stands alongside the part of the market that faces 3rd Street.

I also found out that the wing of the market in the first photo, was called "The Dell." It contained all of the specialty (non-food) shops, like Kip's Toy Shop. That section of the market and it's clock tower was part of a later expansion, but I could not find an exact date for it's construction. I think it dated back to the 1940s The western most part of that wing (the part facing Fairfax Ave.) also contained an indoor section with shops on the lower level, and offices on the upper level. I remember visiting the market in the nineties, and being surprised to see that the entire indoor section had been turned into an antique mall. I also remember buying a vintage "Disneyland" serving tray during that visit!

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, sorry for my slow response, I have to approve comments left after a couple of days, and the notification went into my spam folder. Blah blah blah! Anyway, thank you for doing that research on the Farmer's Market clock towers, you are way more industrious than I am! So I'm a little unclear, is there only one clock tower today? That would be my guess. I only rarely drive down Fairfax, and always try to look over at the Market, but of course there is plenty of traffic to look out for as well. Kip's Toy Shop, I'll bet that's one that I used to go to! He had some showcases with some good old toys, some that I really wanted but could not afford at the time. I have some other very nice Farmer's Market slides from around 1955 that I will have to look for, I think they show some unusual angles. Thanks TM!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, no problem! I think that is wise of you to have the comments set for needing approval, after a few days or so. I can see where it would be necessary to prevent all of the "spam comments" that come along months and even years after you publish a post.

So, there are two clock towers which are still standing, today. The one that is taller and the most prominent (and can be seen from the main parking lot), is the one in your first pic. It's the one that was carefully dismantled and then reassembled when they were redeveloping the property for The Grove. The second one, which is the older one, can really only be viewed from 3rd St.:,-118.3606668,3a,48.5y,344.95h,91.58t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1srLWFDEoBY-JHRCtfR07B8A!2e0!5s20220801T000000!7i16384!8i8192?entry=ttu

Kips Toy Store did move from "The Dell" wing, over to the main market, when they were doing the redevelopment. According to Google Street view, it was still there as of 2021. It faces the parking lot and is/was next to the larger, relocated clock tower.

I have some vintage maps and post cards of the Farmer's Market, but instead of digging those out, I was just looking at images on ebay, in order to figure out if there had been two clock towers, or three. While searching, I came across one of those "Arcadia Books....Images of America" books on the Market. The seller was only asking $2.00. I wasn't sure that I needed it, even for that low price, so I saved it to my favorites. About an hour later, the seller sent me a special offer of only $1, so I went ahead and purchased it. How can they make a profit off of such a low price? The book arrived two days later, so that is how I learned that they moved that one clock tower, and also about that wing being called "The Dell."

I have photos of the Market which my dad took during three different visits in the 1960s. Whenever he had family visiting So Cal from back east, he apparently took them to the Market. I need to scan those slides. I have been wanting to do a vintage Farmer's Market post, but like many other potential posts that are "in my head", I have been putting it off.