“Prosperous farmers mean more employment,
more prosperity for the workers and the business men
of every industrial area in the whole country.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
When I first arrived in California back in 1967, one of the most famous places I loved to visit was at Third & Fairfax. Any good Angeleno knows what has been at this corner since 1880.
It was back in 1880 that A. F. Gilmore and a partner bought two dairy farms in the Los Angeles area. The partners elected to split their holdings ten years later and Mr. Gilmore took control of the large 256-acre ranch, its dairy herd and farmhands at what is now the world famous corner of Third & Fairfax known as the Farmers Market.
When A. F. Gilmore wanted to expand his dairy herd in 1900, he started drilling new wells for water. He discovered oil. Quickly, the dairy herd was replaced by a field of oil derricks which remained in place until Los Angeles’s boundaries expanded to surround the Gilmore property. Although the rich oil field continued to generate crude, the derricks were no longer permitted on a large scale.
The Gilmore property remained largely vacant into the 1930s, when at the height of the Depression, two entrepreneurs, Fred Beck and Roger Dahlhjelm, approached A.F.’s son, Earl Bell (E.B.) Gilmore, with “an idea.”
Fred Beck & Roger Dahlhjelm wanted to build a “Village” at the corner of Third & Fairfax where local farmers could sell their fresh fare. 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 Third & Fairfax and sold their fresh produce from the back of the trucks.
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.
While it grew to be a must-see destination for travelers from around the world, Farmers Market was always the favorite place for L.A. families to shop for groceries.
The Clock Tower became an icon of the Farmers Market in 1948. Over the decades, it has become a worldwide symbol of food and fun.
My photo of the clock tower 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 the Farmers Market – the original.