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Farmer's Market :

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A Rich History

In July 1934 a contingent of farmers pulled their trucks onto an expanse of empty land at the property known as Gilmore Islandat the corner of Third and Fairfax in Los Angeles. They displayed their produce on the tailgates of their vehicles, to their delight, customers quickly arrived and parked their cars on a hastily created dirt parking lot in spaces designated with chalk. They strolled among the trucks purchasing fruit, vegetables and flowers.

The atmosphere was casual, the open air commerce enticing, the goods fresh, and the result remarkable. Farmers Market became an instant institution.

With a partner, Arthur Fremont Gilmore purchased two ranches in the Los Angeles vicinity. The purchase inaugurated a string of serendipitous events which not even the far-sighted Gilmore could predict. When Gilmore and his partner elected to dissolve their arrangement, they drew straws - Gilmore's straw secured 256 acres on which he created a successful dairy farm. A.F. Gilmore had no plans for a world-renowned institution when he moved to Los Angeles from Illinois in 1870. Rather, he was seeking a better life on the promising West Coast. When he married Mary Elizabeth Bell in 1882, the small adobe on the property became the new home for his family.

At the turn of the century, while drilling for water for his herd of dairy cows, A.F. Gilmore hit oil. By 1905, the dairy was gone and the Gilmore Oil Company born.

As Farmers Market at Gilmore Island became an international landmark, the property surrounding it grew famous with it. E.B. Gilmore, rarely missed an opportunity. Thus in the 1930s and '40s, he gave Angelenos the opportunity to experience livesporting events.

In 1934, a few months before Farmers Market opened, Gilmore built the first race car track designed specifically for midget car racers, a venue built of love and commercial savvy. Gilmore loved racers and his marketing sense led him to support them as a "demonstration" of Gilmore Oil products.

His romance with cars extended well beyond the construction of Gilmore Stadium. As a sponsor, E.B. Gilmore took vehicles to the Winner's Circle at the Indianapolis 500 in 1935 and 1937. As a patron, he helped establish a land speed record which lasted for eight years. As a businessman, he created "Economy Runs" which evolved into modern stock car racing. In 1987, E.B. Gilmore was elected to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame and in 1992, he was inducted into the Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Iowa.

Gilmore Stadium was also home to the Bulldogs, the first professional football team in Los Angeles. Art Aragon, the Golden Boy of boxing, fought in the 18,000 seat stadium. The site was also used for rodeos, wrestling matches and even swimming. This was also where presidential candidate Harry Truman delivered his famous "stiff upper lip" speech. No sooner had the Gilmore Stadium become a fixture in Los Angeles than E.B. Gilmore acted again. Gilmore Field was constructed in 1938 to accommodate the Hollywood Stars, a minor league professional baseball team of the Pacific Coast League, owned by Bing Crosby, Barbara Stanwyck, and Cecil B. DeMille.

Gilmore Field was perhaps the most intimate baseball venue ever created in a metropolitan area. Home plate was exactly 34 feet from the seats, first and third bases only 24 feet away. Gilmore Field taught a generation of Angelenos to love baseball. The Hollywood Stars popularity created the climate which helped persuade the owners of the Dodgers to move west, before the 1958 season.