It’s no mystery how California got the nickname “The Golden State”. One of our football teams bears the name of the year which put California on the map - 1849, the Gold Rush. However, when prospectors arrived, it was clear they found so much more than gold. They discovered what the Native Americans had enjoyed for years: extraordinary coast lines, fertile soil, expansive mountain ranges containing many natural resources, and of course, the best weather of any region of the continental United States.
It was the coastline, soil, minerals and impeccable weather that attracted a number of Japanese immigrants to Southern California in 1912 where they began growing flowers. This entrepreneurial spirit inspired a number of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds to come together in 1919 to create the American Florists’ Exchange (now the Original Los Angeles Flower Market) on Winston and Fifth in Downtown Los Angeles. In 1923 that market was moved to a garage on 7th and Wall where it remains to this day.
With the advent of refrigerated trucks, the Los Angeles Flower Market (which eventually expanded into an entire district) became the American hub for flowers, allowing people on the frigid east coast to have roses or chrysanthemums shipped to their homes in the middle of January. Large expanses of colorful flowers painted the South Bay, the market for California flowers was enormous! As Southern California Real Estate become more and more valuable and as the flower industry opened up to international markets, the locally grown array of California flowers diminished, but the Los Angeles Flower District remained, and is still the largest wholesale flower district in the United States, offering over 125 different varieties of flowers. On top of that, in 2011 the Los Angeles Flower Market went solar, running all their electricity from solar panels!
Walking into the Los Angeles Flower Market is nothing short of a feast for the senses. The exotic fragrances of the different varietals hit your nose like a bullet train, first smelling roses, then mums, then sunflowers. It is almost shocking to see gracious and delicate orchids haphazardly piled on top of each other by the hundreds. Florists are running from place to place to ensure they purchase only the finest cuts from the vendors to whom they pledge the most loyalty.
More impressive than the pure mass of flowers, are the prices! The signs scream the deals to you: 2 Dozen roses $5.00! Exotic Roses $10.75! A BUCKET of roses for $40! Needless to say, prices vary depending on when you visit, and how old the flowers are.
Nearby the Los Angeles Flower Market are other vendors who, though not associated with the Flower District, do offer retail flowers which can be arranged into beautiful and fun creations. They usually also offer a fair supply of ribbons, pots, and other floral supplies.