Sunday, February 10, 2008

No. 113 - Young's Market Building

Young's Market Building

Young’s Market Building
1924 – Charles F. Plummer
1602 West Seventh Street – map
Declared: 3/7/73

Considering the state of the building after being looted and torched during the 1992 Los Angeles riots, it’s remarkable the former headquarter of the Young’s Market grocery chain is standing at all. (For a picture of the building at its nadir, go to page 186 in McGrew and Julian’s Landmarks of Los Angeles.)

Young's Market Building

Young’s was founded in the late 1880s by John G. Young, the oldest of a set of grocery-minded brothers. By the time the Seventh and Union market formally opened on February 23, 1925, Young’s Markets had grown to a string of more than forty stores. By then, there were five brothers in the business: W.G. was president; George F., J.G., and C.T. were vice presidents; and P.M. was secretary and treasurer. It was P.M. who oversaw the construction of this city landmark.

Young's Market Building
The Union Avenue side.

Charles F. Plummer designed the five-story, 126,000-square-foot building to headquarter the executive offices of the chain and house the company’s central retail market and distribution center. The exterior north and east sides still boast thirty-foot tall, 42,000-pound Corinthian columns of granite as well as a wrap-around bronze grill. You really need to look up next to you pass by to take in the della Robbia-style “ceramic polychrome” frieze just below the cornice. Fruits of the earth and all that.

Young's Market Building

Young's Market Building

Young's Market Building

I reckon the picture below is not of the same section as above, but close enough for government work.

Young's Market Building

Speaking of opening day, get this: this massive Young’s Market was open twelve hours that first day – not for business per se, but for inspection only. In other words, prospective customers (women, mainly) could come in, check out the place, get all pumped up about the mother of all grocery stores, but would have to return the next day if they wanted to buy anything. Can you imagine going to Ralph’s on opening day and being told you weren’t allowed to purchase anything, but you were encouraged to look around?

Young's Market Building

The main theme of the interior’s ground floor/mezzanine was of a Pompeian marketplace. On the mezzanine, there was the household goods department and a large writing room for the ladies. Of special note were the stenciled concrete supports crossing the ceiling. You can still see the faded remnants of these today.

Young's Market Building

Young's Market Building

Someone, at some point, mustered enough energy to give a bit of restoration a stab:

Young's Market Building

The rest of the building contained rooms dedicated to coffee roasting (with a capacity of 10,000 pounds of imported-only coffee), flour blending, flour mixing (holding five carloads of flour), pastry-making, as well as a dough room and a sweet dough room (“No, no, no. This is the room for regular dough. The room for sweet dough is down the hall. This is 4B. You want 4D.”) The market’s bakery had enough gas ovens to bake either 900 loaves of bread hourly or 1,000 loaves every forty-five minutes, depending on which source you choose to believe (the even hour of the former appeals to me, but I like the round number of 1,000, so I’m torn). There was a floor for the offices, and the second floor was the vast order-filling department – so vast, in fact, the Southern California Telephone company had its largest order up to that time – seventy trunk lines – to accommodate the operators. Finally, 125 carloads of merchandise could fit comfortably into the basement.

Young's Market Building

At the time of the 1992 riots, the building was occupied by the Andrew Hardware and Metal Company. Today, the old Young’s Market Building is home to Michael’s Furniture and the 44-unit CityView Lofts. CityView has a pretty good website with pictures and a brief video tour which kicks off with the penthouse (under "Filming Available").

Young's Market Building
The stenciled concrete beams were blackened out in the corner section.

Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 113, Young’s Market Building, is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

Young's Market Building


“Market Ready the First of the Year” Los Angeles Times; Nov 2, 1924, p. E10

“Young’s Food Emporium” Los Angeles Times; Jan 1, 1925, p. 36

“Youngs in a New Marketplace” Los Angeles Times; Feb 22, 1925, p. B3

The black and white photographs are via the Los Angeles Public Library photo archive.

Up next: Wilshire United Methodist Church


Palm Axis said...

This might be of interest..

The city is breaking ground along the 1.4-mile Pico Boulevard corridor, from the Harbor Freeway to Hoover Street. It includes tree trimming, planting of Chinese Flame Trees and 25-feet high Mexican Fan Palms. They will be replacing benches and trash receptacles, and adding decorative crosswalks at major intersections.
They will also be removing existing sidewalks and constructing new ones. The art component will include stamping the new sidewalks with images of historical homes to be found in that neighborhood. These groupings of four stamps, will be bordered by recycled glass inserts.

Aunt Snow said...

Hi, Floyd, The stencilled concrete is interesting. The old City Club building at 833 S. Spring has similar stencils on the beams on the top floor.

Floyd B. Bariscale said...

Thanks, Aunt Snow. Is the old City Club building open to the public?

Los Angeles Lofts said...

great post and pics. that building is truly a landmark.

Anonymous said...

I heard the Frankie Goes to Hollywood scene from Body Double was shot here.