2718 Hyperion Avenue 90027 - Sakai-Kozawa Residence/Tokio Florist & Pole Sign
2718 Hyperion Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027 Los Angeles
Craftsman, Historic-Cultural Monument, Tudor Revival
“Sakai-Kozawa Residence/Tokio Florist and Pole Sign”
Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #1198
Click here for Los Angeles Department of City Planning Recommendation Report, which has additional details on the property’s architectural and historic significance.
Statement of Significance for HCM:
The site at 2718 Hyperion Avenue is the long-time location of Tokio Florist as well as the residence of proprietors Yuki Sakai, her daughter Sumi (Sakai) Kozawa and son-in-law Frank Kozawa. It is extraordinary for the integrity of its landscaped grounds, buildings, and signage, which uniquely narrate emblematic themes of Los Angeles and Japanese American history and culture. Tokio Florist is representative of the agricultural and horticultural sectors of Los Angeles’s commercial and early industrial development. Japanese American families significantly contributed to these industries as well as the region’s social milieu and built and natural environments since they began immigrating to the area in the late nineteenth century. For decades, Japanese American growers, gardeners, and owners of cut-flower businesses and nurseries cultivated Los Angeles’s domestic, private, and public landscapes. Ironically, though, while they contributed to the aesthetic as well as the economic potential of much of the landscape in the region, dejure and defacto discrimination severely restricted Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans from owning land and occupying these spaces as residents and business owners, through longstanding Alien Land Laws and racial housing covenants.1 The longevity and resilience of the Sakai-Kozawa family’s Tokio Florist business is significant for the many historical shifts it endured. The Sakai-Kozawa family maintained the business despite multiple challenges, including: legal prohibitions to lease and own land, the Great Depression, the forced removal and subsequent incarceration during World War II, the process of reestablishing their lives and livelihoods during the post-incarceration period also known as resettlement, threats from waves of residential and commercial development in the neighborhood, economic downturns and competition from the increasingly globalized cut-flower industry. Here, the Sakai-Kozawa family’s business persisted for over half of the business’s life as it weathered the continuous reshaping of the built environment and community life that characterized the historic neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, and Edendale that surrounded it.
The property meets “Historic-Cultural Monument Criteria 1” as it exemplifies significant contributions to the broad cultural, economic, or social history of the nation, state, city, and community. The site at 2718 Hyperion Avenue is exemplary of a multigenerational Japanese American residence and family-owned and operated floral business. The Sakai-Kozawa family operated Tokio Florist at this site from 1960 through 2006, which is the period of significance for the property. The buildings are extant and components of the site related to flower growing remain intact in a neighborhood of northeastern Los Angeles where flower farms, stands, and nurseries once dominated the landscape.2 Together, the components of this site are historically 1 Mae M. Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), 38-41, 46-49. 2 Starting in 1917, the Kuromi family leased a large number of acres on Los Feliz Boulevard and established Flower View Gardens. The Ueno family leased land for their adjacent flower farm adjacent to that, and the Sakai-Kozawa farmed flowers and had a shop to the west of both. The Kuromi family likely were instrumental in helping Yuki and her family. Members of all these families also worked for and with one another. Similarly, the Uenos were incarcerated at Manzanar, and the Kuromis at Gila. All had to start over when they returned, and all were displaced in 1962 when Los Feliz Boulevard was developed with housing. Flower View relocated in 1962 to 1801 N. Western Avenue. While Flower View no longer operates (a hardware store occupies the building), the former warehouse or workshop where designers significant for representing the ways in which Japanese Americans contributed to shaping Southern California’s cultural, economic, and physical landscapes. SurveyLA’s Wholesale Flower Market context statement points out, “Japanese Americans dominated the industry over several generations,” yet remaining buildings associated with the wholesale flower industry do not survive with integrity.
Yet, Tokio Florist survives with integrity, as a retail cut-flower business with a long-standing history and connection to the wholesale flower industry and floral nurseries led by Japanese Americans and important to the city’s economic development. It is among only a few Japanese American retail flower shops that survived for this length of time in situ–exceeded largely by the Westside’s O.K. Nursery/Hashimoto Nursery, which in 2013 celebrated 80 years and three generations of ownership at its Sawtelle Boulevard location.
The site of the Tokio Florist also represents the role of gender in the family economy, and a national history of ethnic entrepreneurship. In this case, owners Yuki (Kawakami) Sakai and her daughter Sumi (Sakai) Kozawa worked seven days a week, and were able to cultivate flowers that they also sold on site, while raising a family. These themes are of deep significance not only to California history, but to that of the nation at large, particularly since aspects of gender and the economy—especially how immigrant groups and women of color “made it in America” have not been adequately represented locally, or on the National Register.
2718 Hyperion Avenue has been identified in SurveyLA’s Historic Resources Survey Report on the Silver Lake-Echo Park-Elysian Valley Community Plan Area as potentially eligible for listing as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) as the long-time location of Tokio Florist, a flower shop that bears a significant association with the commercial identity of Silver Lake and represents the presence of Asian Americans in Silver Lake.
SurveyLA’s Japanese Americans in Los Angeles has also identified Tokio Florist as a historically significant commercial building associated with the history of Japanese Americans in Los Angeles.
The property also meets “Historic-Cultural Monument Criteria 3,” as it embodies the distinctive characteristics of a Tudor Craftsman residence and for its association with John B. Althouse and Daniel T. Althouse, active designer/builders in the City. (Source: Los Angeles Department of City Planning Recommendation Report).
Type: Craftsman For Rent