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Welcome to the Los Angeles Flower District

Connecting growers, sellers, shippers & retailers with their flower markets.



Click here to download the Bloomin' News story
about our Flower District (published May 2009)

Two large wholesale flower markets and several storefront tenants comprise the core of the original Los Angeles Flower District, America's largest wholesale flower district. (The District does not include the smaller flower malls on San Pedro and Eighth streets.) The Flower District's history dates back to the early 1900s.

A common scene, a visual treat, the bougainvillea in full bloom in Southern California. Photo by Wordpix.History: Flowers to America from The Colorful Land of California

The incredible climate of Southern California
In the 1800s, expansive open areas along the Southern California coast and around Los Angeles enjoyed the natural color and beauty of native grasses and wild flowers. The Los Angeles Coastal Prairie, a large coastal area near the El Segundo dunes, featured vernal pools and marshes and was carpeted with spectacular displays of wildflowers. Indian paintbrush, mustard, lupine, poppies, verbena and other flowers formed a kaleidoscope of color that surprised and delighted residents and tourists alike. The sweet moisture of evening and morning coastal fog intermingled with daily rations of sunlight to create a nurturing, year-‘round semi-tropical growing environment where plants and flowers would flourish.

Spectacular growth of the Los Angeles area
In the 1800s, the great diversity and industry that characterizes Southern California today were beginning in earnest, including agricultural enterprises on the fringes of Los Angeles. Orange groves and dairy farms were common. Within the city’s limits (and very near today’s Flower District), the garment and fashion districts were putting down their roots. A second rail line, built between Los Angeles and Santa Fe, New Mexico, brought in thousands of new residents and made it possible for California products to reach Eastern markets quickly. In 1890, Edwin Earl invented the refrigerated railcar and the first Tournament of Roses Parade was held in Pasadena. In 1892, Edward L. Doheny discovered oil in Los Angeles. By this time, the population of Los Angeles had passed the 50,000 mark.

Setting the pace of floriculture in California
In 1892, a handful of Japanese American farmers began planting and cultivating flowers in fields near Santa Monica and south of the fast-growing city of Los Angeles. Only a few Japanese Americans lived in Southern California at the time (possibly less than 100), with the greatest population residing in the northern part of the state, since San Francisco was the main port of entry. They made an impact upon the entire California flower industry that would set its pace for the future.

The Southern California Flower Market in the 1920s.

American Florists' Exchange dba Los Angeles Flower Market, 1959.

Above left, the Southern California Flower Market in the 1920s.
On the right, the Los Angeles Flower Market of the American Florists' Exchange, around 1959.

Today's Southern California Flower Market

Today's Los Angeles Flower Market

Beginning the Los Angeles Flower Markets & Flower District
In 1913, the Japanese flower growers and sellers started the Southern California Flower Market* just a few blocks northwest of its current location. That market moved in 1923 to the 700 block of South Wall Street, where it resides today. Around 1917, the American Florists' Exchange was organized by a handful of European immigrants working as flower farmers and wholesalers. Incorporating in January, 1921 as the American Florists' Exchange dba Los Angeles Flower Market*, they moved from their first location at Fifth and Winston streets to a former garage on Wall Street, right across the street from the "Japanese market" (Southern California Flower Market). The 700 block of South Wall Street became the core of today's Los Angeles Flower District and the "grand central" of trading between the wholesalers, shippers, florists and flower farmers, who trucked their blooms fresh from the fields to market nightly.

Editor's Notes: The history of the American Florists' Exchange dba Los Angeles Flower Market is documented in its 2008 hardback pictorial book, Sending Flowers to America: Stories of the Los Angeles Flower Market and the People Who Built an American Floral Industry. Please visit our Book page for details. The history of the Southern California Flower Market is documented in its 2004 hardbound book titled, A Scent of Flowers, by Naomi Hirahara, and can be purchased by contacting the SCFM (see our Contact page or Book page).

Tike and Dan Karavas in the Karavas family's flower field in Redondo Beach, 1940s.

 

Everybody Contributed
William Mulholland’s California Aqueduct had ushered its first precious gallons of water to Los Angeles, from 200 miles north, in 1913, paving the way for unprecedented growth of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The Los Angeles area’s floriculture industry was well underway, nurtured by dedicated families, smart business leaders and hard workers. Japanese American entrepreneurs followed a vertical chain concept that resulted in many essential operations – from farming to shipping to retail sales – being performed by Japanese American businesses from the beginning to the end of the supply chain. Other families, including many Latinos, Greeks, Italians, Dutch and other Europeans, grew flowers at first on small plots of ground and as the years went by, expanded and passed their businesses from generation to generation. Some of today's leaders in the floriculture industry started with the small land parcels and flower stands of yesteryear.

Photo, left: Tike and Dan Karavas in the Karavas family flower field in Redondo Beach, early 1940s.

Florists wait for 6:30 opening bell at Los Angeles Flower Market.Of the floriculture industry that evolved from the small farms and markets of Los Angeles, one thing was certain: Californians supplied the entire nation with its cut, fresh flowers for many decades. During the icy cold and snowy winters, and during the off seasons for certain flowers in various regions of the United States, roses, carnations, gladiolas, chrysanthemums and many other fresh blooms were harvested, packaged and shipped daily from Southern California to fill the orders of florists from coast to coast. Even today, old-time wholesalers in Texas, Michigan and eastern states recall ordering from their California wholesalers.

Photo, right: Florists await the ringing of the 6:30 a.m.
opening bell at the Los Angeles Flower Market.

What changed?
In the 1960s, with great advances in air transportation and the advent of refrigerated trucks, fresh flowers began to be imported from other countries to the United States. Adding to the increasing demand for imports was the urbanization of the Southern California farming areas, which were quickly evolving into housing tracts and shopping centers. Finally, adding to the challenges faced by retail florists, supermarkets and large discount chains began selling fresh flowers. Suddenly, driving down a country road past flower and citrus farms was but a memory. Los Angeles area flower wholesalers now ordered their cut flowers from foreign growers. Wholesalers and local growers made research trips to South America and Holland, to see for themselves the efficiencies of the farms there. Today's wholesalers still order from California growers the specialty blooms (peonies, tea roses, etc.) desired for unique or custom arrangements; and growers like Mellano & Company, which operates The Flower Fields at Carlsbad, still grow a wealth of beautiful blooms for American florists and event decorators. But most wholesalers import the flowers they sell.

Carting flowers at the Market in Los AngelesAwesome growth
Unlike flower districts in many large cities (New York, San Francisco), the Los Angeles Flower District has grown to become the largest wholesale flower district in the United States. The two historic flower markets that comprise its core, situated between Seventh and Eighth streets on Wall Street, are now surrounded by dozens of independently owned wholesale and retail florists, floral supplies and floral related storefront shops and small flower malls.

Although they contribute to the overall economy and health of the business area, most of these stores are not enrolled badge-holding members of the official Los Angeles Flower District.

We encourage you to visit the real Los Angeles Flower District and enjoy the spacious, flower-bedecked aisles of two historic flower markets and the suppliers and wholesalers of Wall Street. Please visit our list of tenants and be sure to contact us if you would like more information. We'd love to see you at the District*!

Remember to order your copies of:

Sending Flowers to America by Peggi Ridgway and Jan Works (Dec 2008)Sending Flowers to America  
ISBN 978-0-9798285-0-8, retail $35 - Contact Us

Coffee table pictorial hardbound history of the American Florists' Exchange dba Los Angeles Flower Market, by Peggi Ridgway and Jan Works, ties the history of the broader Los Angeles area and Southern California in with the growth of the flower industry. Includes 350-plus photos, profiles of families and flower industry pioneers. To order - visit the Los Angeles Flower Market or the Book page on our website.

 

 

Naomi Hirahara's A Scent of Flowers (2004)A Scent of Flowers,
ISBN
0974969702

Pictorial hardbound history of the Southern California Flower Market started by the Japanese farmers and wholesalers in the early 1900s. By Naomi Hirahara. Available from the Southern California Flower Market - visit our Contact page.
 

 

 

*The Los Angeles Flower Market, the Southern California Flower Market and
the Los Angeles Flower District are sometimes collectively referred to as the "Los Angeles Flower Mart."








Visit the Los Angeles Flower District soon!
766 Wall Street, Los Angeles, California
 
 
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