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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

El Cerrito in Contra Costa County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Blooming Business

 
 
Blooming Business Marker - front/street side image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, February 29, 2020
1. Blooming Business Marker - front/street side
Inscription.  (front or street side:)

"At four in the morning they would start preparing the flowers for market. Grandfather would carefully put the flowers in a basket and sling it over his shoulder. Grandmother, carrying a lantern, would lead him to the streetcar stop on Potrero Avenue to go to San Francisco."

- Meriko Maida
Second-generation flower grower

(other side)

Despite the fact that the individual El Cerrito Japanese growers competed vigorously for business, cooperation and collaboration were keys to everyone's success. They all sold flowers at a wholesale market, the California Flower Market, in which they were all shareholders. They helped each other build new structures such as greenhouses and water towers. They also worked together on community projects, from organizing a Japanese school for their children to raising money for dorms at UC Berkeley since off-campus housing for Japanese American students was restricted by racial covenants.

The Japanese American nurseries prospered because they could grow a profitable product on land too small for other crops. They had a broader market

Blooming Business Marker - other side image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, February 29, 2020
2. Blooming Business Marker - other side
than just other Japanese. San Francisco was one of the best markets for flowers in the U.S. They worked with Italian and Chinese growers to open the first grower-operated wholesale flower market on the West Coast. All benefited from a single location where retail florists could buy flowers.

In 1929, Japanese American growers produced 70 percent of the major greenhouse flowers and chrysanthemums in Northern California. The El Cerrito-Richmond area was a major carnation and rose growing center. The Bay Area growers began selling flowers outside the state in Chicago and Seattle.

The California Flower Market
The California Flower Market, one of the oldest Japanese American owned corporations in the U.S., was key to the growers' success. Under one roof, growers could offer variety and new products to retailers and so increase sales and profits for all members.

(timeline:)

1917 City of El Cerrito, incorporating several small communities, is founded.
1924 Immigration Act limits all Japanese from immigrating to the U.S.
1929 Japanese American nurseries produce 70 percent of all greenhouse flowers in northern California.
1930 More than 1,000 Japanese Americans are documented living in Contra Costa County.
Late 1930s State begins the first of several extensions of the Eastshore

Blooming Business Marker- wide view image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, February 29, 2020
3. Blooming Business Marker- wide view
The subject marker is second from the front.
Freeway, forcing demolition of Japanese American owned nurseries.

 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AgricultureAsian AmericansHorticulture & ForestryIndustry & Commerce.
 
Location. 37° 54.923′ N, 122° 18.657′ W. Marker is in El Cerrito, California, in Contra Costa County. Marker is on San Pablo Avenue, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 10860 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito CA 94530, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Community of Flower Growers (a few steps from this marker); The Japanese in El Cerrito, a Timeline (within shouting distance of this marker); Contra Costa Florist (within shouting distance of this marker); City Hall (within shouting distance of this marker); Corridors of Change (within shouting distance of this marker); The Industrial Core (approx. ¼ mile away); Quarries (approx. ¼ mile away); Holy Ghost Festa (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in El Cerrito.
 
Inset photo (front side): <i>A greenhouse owned by the Oishi family...</i> image. Click for full size.
Courtesy of the Oishi Family, circa 1920
4. Inset photo (front side): A greenhouse owned by the Oishi family...
...who grew carnations in Richmond.
Inset photo (other side): <i>Inside the San Francisco California Flower Market</i> image. Click for full size.
Courtesy of the California Flower Market, 1940
5. Inset photo (other side): Inside the San Francisco California Flower Market
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 16, 2020. It was originally submitted on September 15, 2020, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. This page has been viewed 43 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on September 16, 2020, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California.
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Sep. 28, 2020