Along with the sounds of rumbling freight trains, the air of Elysian Valley, Cypress Park and Glassell Park was also once filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread. Workers streamed into the Dutch style Van De Kamps bakery in Glassell Park, Foix Bakery in Cypress Park and the Four S plant in Elysian Valley. From these factories streamed a fleet of delivery trucks packed with loaves of white bread, sourdough baguettes and packages of coffee cake and Twinkies. But many of those bakeries are long gone. Now, one of the last remaining bakeries from that era, the Hostess Brands plant in Elysian Valley, may soon be history after the company announced today it would close operations amid a nationwide strike.
At one point, at least 15 bakeries operated along a five mile stretch that runs along the Los Angeles River, with bakers drawn to the area’s central location and easy access to roads and rail lines, according to a 1987 L.A. Times story. Current Councilman Tom LaBonge shared his memories of those bakeries with the Times:
“That’s where the bakers were,” said Tom LaBonge, an aide to Los Angeles City Councilman John Ferraro and a life long Silver Lake resident. As a child, LaBonge accompanied his father to bakeries to purchase still-warm loaves. He recalls inhaling the comforting aromas ans watching bread roll off the assembly line.
Bread will continue to be baked in area if the Hostess bakery does not reopen. The Frisco Bakery, which dates back to the 1940s, across the river in Cypress Park continues to produce sourdough bread and other products and operates a store on the premises.
Perhaps new bakers and bakeries will fill the void. Sweet Lady Jane, the high end bakery with stores on Melrose and Santa Monica, opened a wholesale desert facility on Riverside Drive facility near Elysian Valley about eight years ago. Meanwhile, on a smaller basis, Na Young Ma, who operates Proof Bakery in Atwater Village, has been hailed for producing some of the city’s finest croissants.