The Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles

One of L.A.'s oldest institutions, the Farmers Market was conceived when a dozen local farmers started parking their trucks on a field to sell their fresh produce to residents. Since then, the Farmers Market has retained its laid back, open-air atmosphere and selection of fresh-from-the-farm goods, while becoming a world-class haven for gourmands, offering fare from nearly every region imaginable. The compact, maze-like space houses more than 70 stalls, stores, markets and cafes, some of which are nearly as old as the market itself.




The Beginning

(ca. 1900)* – View looking north toward the Hollywood Hills from an open field near where Fairfax Avenue and Third Street are located today.  


Historical Notes

The origins of the market started in 1880, when Arthur Fremont Gilmore and his partner, who had come from Illinois, bought two dairy farms in the Los Angeles area. Gilmore bought what is now called the Farmers Market, and his partner bought the land plot nowadays known as the grove. Ten years later the partners decided to split their holdings and Gilmore took control of the large 256-acre ranch, its dairy herd, and farmhands at what is now the world-famous Farmers Market and Grove. The market started when a dozen nearby farmers began to park their trucks on a field to sell fresh produce to local residents. The cost to rent the space was fifty cents per day.*





(1934)* - Three or four rows of cars are parked on a dirt lot next to a few low buildings located on the NE corner of Third and Fairfax.. The sign at the entrance points to Farmers Market.  


Historical Notes

Farmers Market was created in July 1934 by Roger Dahlhjelm, a businessman, and Fred Beck, an advertising copywriter. They wanted to build a "Village" at the corner of 3rd & Fairfax where local farmers could sell their fresh fare. E.B. Gilmore agreed to give it a go. In July 1934, a dozen farmers and a few other merchants parked their trucks at the corner of 3rd & Fairfax and sold their fresh produce from the back of the trucks.*





(ca. 1934)* - A couple rows of cars are parked on a dirt lot with some parking lines marked. A building has a sign "Supermalts 10 cents" where Farmers Market is located in a section of low buildings. In the background another sign reads "GILMORE" which was the sign on the face of the Gilmore Stadium (built in 1934).  


Historical Notes

Originally called the “Farmers Public Market,” the concept was so popular that within months, permanent stalls were erected to provide the farmers with a more convenient way to provide their produce. The “Public” was dropped from the name almost immediately.*





(1934)* - Opening day of the Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax on July 14, 1934.  






(1934)^^* – Carts full of fresh produce draw the attention of visitors on opening day of Farmers Market – July 11, 1934.  


Historical Notes

By October 1934, mere months after it opened, farmers and merchants, including restaurants, grocers and service providers, were moving into permanent stalls and the new Farmers Market was so popular that its founders staged a celebration, the first Fall Festival at Farmers Market.*




(1938)^^ - Aerial view looking north showing Farmers Market at the corner of Fairfax and Third Street (lower-left). The Gilmore Stadium is seen near the corner of Fairfax and Beverly (upper left) where CBS Television City would be built in 1952. A new baseball field, Gilmore Field, will be built within a year of this photo in the empty lot at center-right of photo.  


Historical Notes

As the family car became preferred transportation in L.A., Farmers Market's open spaces became parking lots.




Then and Now

(1938 vs. 2022)* - Aerial view showing Farmers Market and surrounding area.  






(1930s)**^ - Aerial view looking northeast showing a busy Farmers Market with a full parking lot. Fairfax and 3rd Street is at lower-right. Gilmore Stadium is in the upper-left and a Gilmore Service Station stands at lower-center.  







(ca. 1940)* - Panoramic view showing rows of cars are parked around and near the buildings of the Farmers Market.  







(1942)^ - Postcard view showing Gill’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream with several customers sitting at the counter including a sailor in uniform.  The famous Farmers Market Windmill can be seen at upper-left.  






(1942)^ - Postcard view showing an early outdoor restaurant at Farmers Market.  






(1942)* – Postcard view showing two women, pulling straw weaved baskets carts, shopping near the fruit stands at Farmers Market.  






(ca. 1940s)* - Shoppers inspecting produce at the Farmers Market. Note the different style of shopping carts/baskets.  






(1950s)#* - Two women posing in front of a fruit stand at Farmers Market.  






(1945)^^ - View of the northeast corner of 3rd Street and Fairfax showing how Farmers Market looked in the 1940's. The Gilmore Stadium can be seen at the upper-left of the photo. The distinctive windmill sign stands adjacent to the American Flag. The white building next to the windmill is the original Du-Par's Restaurant.  


Historical Notes

The first Du-par's was founded in 1938 at Farmers Market by James Dunn and Edward Parsons, who combined their surnames to create the restaurant's name. The chain was purchased in 2004 by an investor group led by W.W. "Biff" Naylor, the son of noted California restaurateur Tiny Naylor. Du-par's expanded in 2009 to include several locations from the bankrupt Bakers Square chain.*^





(1949)#* - View looking east showing make-shift stores set up in the Farmers Market parking lot. The Gilmore Stadium can be seen in the background.  






(1949)^.^ - View of a Foster and Kleiser billboard advertising Farmers Market:  “2,000 People a Day Eat at the Farmers Market”  






(ca. 1940s)^^ - View showing the Farmers Market Windmill towering above the buildings on a clear day with the Hollywood Hills in the distance.  


Historical Notes

The Windmill was Farmers Marktet's icon from the time it opened in 1934 until 1948, when it was replaced by a Clock Tower.





(ca. 1950)#^* – View looking northwest showing parking lot and shops at Farmers Market with the Hollywood Hills in the background. Richard Wojcik Collection.  






(ca. 1952)^^ – Blow-up of previous photo showing large Gas Tank (Gasometer) in the distance as well the the Gilmore Stadium.  Sign at lower-left reads:  U.S. Post Office.  







(1952)+^^ – View showing a full parking lot at Farmers Market with its iconic clock tower seen in the background.  






(ca. 1952)^^ - View looking northeast showing the parking lot at Farmers Market located at Third Street and Fairfax Avenue (in foreground).  Third Street is to the right and out of view.  At upper-right can be seen the Gilmore Drive-in Theatre.  At upper center-left is the Gilmore Stadium. The Farmers Market iconic clock tower (installed in 1948) is at upper-right.  






(1948)* – View showing the world famous Farmers Market Clock Tower the year it was installed.  


Historical Notes

The Clock Tower became an icon of the Farmers Market in 1948 when it was installed. The Tower (which now sits atop Starbucks) features the iconic phrase "An Idea", a humble nod to Fred Beck, Roger Dahlhjelm and the 18 original tenants who helped forever shape the corner of 3rd & Fairfax.





(1953)^ – Parking lot in front of the iconic Farmers Market Clock-Tower which is decorated for Christmas.  Note that the top of the tower has been chopped off exposing several loud-speakers (see previous photo). The car in lower-left foreground is a 1952 Ford with a "Rocket Airplane" Hood Ornament  






(ca. 1958)^.^ – View looking northwest across the Farmers Market parking lot toward clock tower with the Hollywood Hills in the background.  






(ca. 1960)^.^ - View looking northwest showing the iconic Farmers Market clock tower (installed in 1948) with the Hollywood Hills in the distance.  In the foreground parked next to each other (l to r) is a: 1959 Chevrolet Station Wagon, 1955 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Sedan, and a 1960 Oldsmobile Coupe.  Note how jam-packed the station wagon is.  






(1960s)^*^# – View looking at the northeast corner of Fairfax and 3rd Street showing the Farmers Market parking lot, Dupar’s Restaurant, and CBS Television City in the background. Click HERE to see contemporary view.  






(1960s)^.^ – Locals and tourists enjoying outdoor dining from a variety of restaurants and prepared-food stalls.  


Historical Notes

Farmers Market was and still is a destination for foodies in search of the market's ethnic cuisines, specialty food markets, and prepared-food stalls. A sign that reads "Meet Me at Third and Fairfax" displays at the front of The Original Farmers Market.





(1969)**^# - View of Farmers Market looking northeast with CBS Television City in the background. The Farmers Market Clock Tower stands at right.  


Historical Notes

When CBS Television City opened next door in 1952, the Farmers Market provided those working or visiting that television studio a convenient place to shop or eat.

In the 1970s The Country Kitchen, a restaurant owned and operated by Jack and Eileen Smith (located next to the still-operating Du-par's), was popular with stars and their fans alike. Mickey Rooney could sometimes be found working behind the counter. Other customers included Elvis Presley, Regis Philbin, Rip Taylor, Mae West, Johnny Carson and even The Shah of Iran on his visit.*^





(1965)#^* – View showing two people walking adjacent to a parking lot with the Farmers Market Clock Tower standing tall behind them.  


Historical Notes

The Clock Tower, which overlooks Farmers Market Plaza and the main entrances to the Market, has welcomed visitors to the Market for more than half a century (it was first erected in 1948).





(1987)* – Farmers Market parking lot with the clock tower in the background. View is looking northwest toward the Hollywood Hills.  






(1994)** – Gilmore Heritage Auto Show celebrating the 60th birthday of Farmers Market.  








(2009)^ – The iconic Farmers Market Clock Tower stands in the foreground with the Grove Tower seen in the distance.


Historical Notes

When The Grove at Farmers Market was constructed (2002) and the Market added the Plaza and North Market, the clock tower was carefully taken down, fully restored and erected in its new home with a brand new clock works.




Then and Now

(1934 vs. 2021)* – Looking at the NE corner of 3rd and Fairfax, location of Farmers Market.  






(2017)^ - Los Angeles Farmers Market is an historic landmark that has been around since 1934. The market is located on the corner of Third and Fairfax and is a fascinating place to spend the day.  


Historical Notes

The farmers market has more than 100 shops and restaurants to explore. There are so many different places to eat (over 50) with so many choices for food.





Sketch of the Los Angeles Farmers Market - a truly historic landmark since 1934.*  



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