1880: The story begins...
In 1880, 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 3rd & Fairfax. The city, which would eventually surround the property, was still far to the east.
When A. F. Gilmore wanted to expand his dairy herd, 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. (Pictured between the center and right car, father and son, A.F and E.B Gilmore)
Two Entrepreneurs & "An Idea"
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."
The Market is Born - Farmers & Artisans
Fred Beck & Roger Dahlhjelm wanted to build a "Village" at the corner of 3rd & Fairfax, where artisans could sell their fresh far. 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.
The Market Grows Up In A Hurry
By October 1934, mere months after it opened, farmers and merchants 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.
The Heart of the Market: Grocers
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. These two housewives were clearly dazzled by the fresh produce selections at the Market.
Over time, Farmers Market continued to grow. The structures, like this marvelous general store, were a part of modern Los Angeles but the Market always retained its own unique and quaint style, as this photo suggests.
All Grown Up
As the family car became preferred transportation in L.A., Farmers Market's open spaces became parking lots. This is a glimpse of the past, an aerial photo capturing the cars of the time and the Market, all grown up.
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. This photo of the first tower (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.
Hollywood's Best Friend
Hollywood and Farmers Market have been best friends for 80 years. Here's a sampling of some stars who have enjoyed their visits to L.A.'s favorite place. During a fundraiser for the Red Cross in 1936, many stars worked behind the counters at Farmers Market shops. Shirley Temple, the nation's top box office draw, drew a large and adoring crowd at Brock's Candies.
Ava Gardner Style
Before the North Market was built, a collection of shops called The Dell stood just to the south. The beautiful Ava Gardner stopped by The Dell to try on summer hats.
Marilyn Monroe Takes The Cake
Marilyn Monroe, appearing as Miss Cheesecake of 1953, sliced away during her "inauguration" ceremony at Michael's Cheesecake with stall owner and former Polish diplomat Michael Gaszynski.
Mr. President, the Beatles, Mr. Sinatra
Movie stars shared their affection with Farmers Market with other luminaries. President Dwight Eisenhower admired the peanut butter machine at Magee's Nuts. A few years later, the Beatles visited the same shop (Ringo wrote their Thank You note). The incomparable singer Frank Sinatra palled around with Patsy D'Amore of Patsy's Pizza.
Still Hollywood's Favorite Location
Farmers Market isn't just Hollywood's favorite place to hang out, it's also one of the industry's favorite locations. World renowned chef and TV star Alton Brown and Gordon Ramsay have both used the Market several times for their shows. The HBO hit Entourage closed out its run with a segment at the Market, and late night guru Jimmy Kimmel frequently engages our customers for quirky feature segments.
A Star at 75
For its 75th Anniversary, Farmers Market's 75th Anniversary celebration was hosted by Jeff Garlin; FM CEO Hank Hilty and Phyllis Magee, proprietor of the Market's oldest restaurant, enjoyed the show.
A Stadium for all seasons
Before the modern sports era began in Los Angeles, the Farmers Market property played a central role in the sporting life of its city. Gilmore Stadium, built in 1934, just before Farmers Market opened, was home field for the L.A. Bulldogs, the city’s first professional football team. The stadium also hosted rodeos, boxing matches, swim exhibitions and motorcycle races.
A bright new sports facility
Midget car racing was by far the most popular attraction at Gilmore Stadium – the facility was built with the pint sized race cars in mind. (see Gilmore Oil)
Roaring with Gilmore Gas & Oil
The midget race cars were small, quick and wide open. The racing season at Gilmore Stadium ran from May to "Tanksgiving" and packed the place.
Hollywood Stars at Gilmore Field
Gilmore Field, opened in 1939, was the home of the Hollywood Stars, one of two professional baseball teams in L.A. before the Dodgers left Brooklyn. Among the Stars ownership group: C.B. DeMille and Barbara Stanwyck.
During a game at Gilmore Field, Hollywood Stars players Frank Kelleher (L) and Gus Zernial (R) welcomed Babe Ruth to the ballpark.
Gilmore Oil Paves & Powers L.A.
In the early 20th century, drilling yielded vast oil reserves on the Gilmore dairy farm where Farmers Market now stands. The A. F. Gilmore Company turned the discovery into Gilmore Oil Company, a major force in the genesis of the automobile culture in L.A. and the West. The Gilmore Oil Company started modestly, but in short order, the property was a field of derricks pumping oil. Most of the petroleum extracted from the land in the early days was used to pave dirt roads across the region.
Fill 'er up
As the automobile became a staple throughout the West, Gilmore Gas stations popped up everywhere – there were more than 1,100 of them that sold only Gilmore products - the company's Blu-Green gas pumps had glass containers so customers could see the colored gas flow - and another 2,400 that sold them along with other brands.
Ridin' in style
Gilmore & Oil delivery trucks always featured the company's symbol, a lion ("Roar With Gilmore"); not all the trucks were as neon sleek as this beauty.
Gilmore the flying lion
E.B. Gilmore hired barnstorming pilot Roscoe Turner to crisscross the nation in a Gilmore sponsored airplane. His co-pilot, Gilmore the flying lion, logged well over 30,000 air miles during their partnership.
Gilmore Power: 369.8mph!
In addition to midget racers (see Sports) and Roscoe's plane, the company also sponsored two winning Indy racers and a car which set a land-speed record, 369.8 mph, powered by Gilmore Gas, of course.
Gas-A-Teria: Self-Serve Started Here
After Gilmore Oil was bought out by Mobil, E.B. Gilmore opened the nation's first large-scale self-service gas station, a "Gas-A-Teria" where customers saved 5¢ a gallon pumping their own.
Let's All Go To the Drive-in
In addition to Gilmore Stadium and Gilmore Field, the Market once featured a wonderful Art Deco drive-in theater. The Gilmore Drive-In, built in 1948, sat approximately where The Grove at Farmers Market is located today.
Fall Festival at Farmers Market has evolved over the years. Back in the day, merchants built their own floats and staged a parade around the Market. The parade doesn't march anymore, but Market merchants still don costumes and dress up their stalls. Kids love pumpkin patches and arts & crafts while everybody enjoys lots of free live music.
Farmers Market launched a Mardi Gras celebration in 1989 and it has endured as one of our most rousing parties. Featuring lots of great Cajun, Zydeco and New Orleans rock bands, beads and beer, the weekend party includes Mutti Gras, a costumed pet parade and beauty contest to pick canine Kings & Queens.
Gilmore Heritage Auto Show
To celebrate our 60th birthday, Farmers Market staged an auto show in honor of the Gilmore Oil Company legacy. The show proved so popular that it is a permanent part of the Market calendar – it's the first Saturday in June every year.
Pop, Rock, Country & Jazz at Farmers Market
In the mid-1980s, one of the Market's West Patio merchants thought it would be fun to ask a few local bands to perform on Friday evenings. The idea was so popular that the Market extended it through the summer; several years later, Thursday Night Jazz was added. Both series are free and last all summer long.