With dozens of stately flowers and vibrant colors welcoming customers, an early morning on Wall Street in Los Angeles evokes the city’s historic charms.
The LA Flower District is the largest of its kind in the country and an epicenter for floral imports worldwide – an ironic twist for an industry created and made prosperous primarily by the city’s immigrants.
The Flower District really began with the Southern California Flower Market, a collective of shareholders started by Japanese flower growers and sellers in 1909 at 421 South Los Angeles Street. It soon moved to its current, permanent location on Wall Street. At the time, Los Angeles was little more than a large farming community, with a population of less than 100,000 and agriculture fueling the city’s industry.
The Japanese have been very influential in shaping the state and nation’s flower industry. By organizing their establishment vertically – with all operations from plant breeding to retail sales owned and operated by Japanese – Southern California market shareholders have established unique economic power in their community and for their families. .
Producers began on leased land for terms of up to three years. At the time, it was illegal for them to buy land due to restrictive land laws such as the California Foreign Lands Act of 1913. The market, then known as the “Japanese Market”, was criticized for being open on Sundays and using women in the grounds—which were necessary measures for poorer families—and used as examples of anti-assimilation into American culture.
Flower growers traveled via the electric railroad system, carrying bouquets of flowers in a wooden basket or on panel trucks before dawn to sell their crops in downtown Los Angeles.
Obstacles put in place throughout the Southern California flower market’s history, including losses and threats to their businesses during World War II, created the need for a tight-knit social circle that s is developed well beyond a business relationship. Despite constant constraints, the early members of the market skirted every obstacle with ambition and ingenuity to build an empire that was the envy of all other players in the industry.
Southern California Flower Market: A Once-Thriving Japanese-American Business
A once-thriving Japanese-American business
John Kono on the history of the market.
Southern California Flower Market: The Challenges of Survival
The challenges of survival
Southern California Flower Market: Local to Global
From local to global
Southern California Flower Market: Kono and Sons
Kono and son
Southern California Flower Market: Hanging Bulbs
Hanging light bulbs