Thursday, 22 July 2010

The 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition

The exposition of 1915 was an auspicious occasion for the city of San Francisco. It marked the completion of the Panama Canal, but also rallied the city into showing how they had sprung back from the brink in the wake of the great 1906 earthquake. The following site replicates the souvenir guidebook for the event that took place along the banks of the Marina.

Or one might also be interested in the two-bit official guidebook...

Art is one of the most powerful modes of communication, period, let alone at a world exposition. The following book outlines the sculptures and murals in 1915, such as the frieze devoted to "survival of the fittest"...

One shadow looming over the expsoition was the outbreak of The Great War. This did not go unrecognized by the organizers, who produced a short film entitled The Story of Jewel City. A fairytale fantasy film, it charts the ultimate message of the fair: hope. Click here to view it.

To view a more mundane 1940 film retrospective of the exposition, click here.


Jack Horner said...

Thanks for this Cory. The Palace of Fine Arts has always been one of my favorite places in San Francisco, I knew that there had been more built for the Panama-Pacific Expo, but I had no clue as to the extent. Or how much architecture had been lost. What I wouldn't give to have seen the Palace of Liberal Arts in it's prime.

A bit out of your period of interest, but some other lost architecture of San Francisco were the pyramid and Tower of the Sun built on Treasure Island for the 1939 World's Fair.

Cory Gross said...

One of the unfortunate realities of expositions is that the architecture is incredible but it's also very temporary. I've only ever been to one myself - Expo 86 in Vancouver - and I remember how avant garde it all seemed, of which only a geodesic dome remains. I would die for the lion's share of the architecture from the 1900 Paris Exposition to still be there, especially the great celestial globe and Albert Robida's Le Vieux Paris.

Funny you should mention the 30's being out of my time zone... Next month's theme will have to do entirely with the Inter-war years!

Anyways, thanks and I'm glad you enjoyed the article!

Jack Horner said...

Actually upon closer review of the publications I think there is quite a bit more Panama-Pacific architecture left in SF than I had thought. Was the expo scattered around the city, or was it wholly in the Marina? I'm going to have to look into this further.

The fountain of Ceres is definitely in Golden Gate Park, and one of the domed buildings looks a whole lot like a synagogue on the south side of the Presidio.

Regarding the 1939 World's Fair, I stand corrected, I made an unwarranted assumption. Wait, I should get defensive. I'm sure I can turn this into an ad hominem attack!

...umm.... no I got nothing.

Cory Gross said...

My understanding is that the expo was situated in the Marina. I suppose there is nothing stopping anyone from moving sculptures and even buildings around after the fact though.

Some day I will actually make it to San Fran. My trips to California have heretofore been to Greater Los Angeles. To see more, and visit the Walt Disney Family Museum while I'm at it, I'd love to fly into San Fran, then stay for a few days out in Yosemite, then drive down to LA.

For an ad hominem you could always say my head is of poo, or threaten about how shooting people you don't like is more civilized ^_^

Jay said...

If you'd like more info on the SF Panama Pacific Fair, this is probably the best site on it.