San Francisco observes the 100th anniversary of the Panama Pacific International Exposition

Fiona Mittelstaedt, Senior Reporter

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The centennial anniversary of the Panama Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco World’s Fair that took place nine years after the City was in ruins, is being highlighted with exhibits around the city.

“The exposition was San Francisco’s opportunity to put on a big show and show the world that they were a first class, sophisticated city,” Jessica Hough, Director of Exhibitions at the California Historical Society said. “It was an opportunity to show off after the 1906 Earthquake. People were very excited and very proud.”

San Francisco World’s Fair was located on 635 acres in what is now the Marina District. Stretching from Van Ness Avenue to Crissy Field, the exposition showcased the newest goods and inventions, according to Laura Ackley, historian and author of “San Francisco’s Jewel City: The Panama-Pacific Inter- national Exposition of 1915.”

“It was really a fantasy land on a number of different levels,” Ackley said. “It was open for 288 days — you could spend months and still not see it all. Of course there was also the midway, the international pavilions, the competitions, the music and the rides.”

The Palace of Fine Arts was one of the fair’s 11 central exhibit palaces and is the only remaining building that was constructed for the Panama Pacific International Exposition.

The spot is also the site of the exhibit “City Rising: San Francisco and the 1915 World’s Fair, an overview of the fair,” running until Jan. 10.

“The exhibit is about its origin, who came up with the idea and the structure and the build out of all the different pavilions,” Hough said.

San Francisco’s Ferry Building has been decked out in commemoration of the fair with “1915” displayed in light bulbs, that will be shinning until Dec. 4, the date the fair closed.

“It’s a way to heighten the visibility of the anniversary,” Hough said. “It is executed the same way it was in 1915.”

Other current exposition exhibits include “Women’s Board of the Panama Pacific International Exposition,” held at the Mechanics Institute, which celebrates the women who lead and maintained the fair.

“Fair, Please! Streetcars to the Panama Pacific International Exposition,” located at the San Francisco Railway Museum examines the transformation of transportation after the destruction of San Francisco in 1906.

“If we can create this enormous city in a very small period of time we can accomplish engineering feet people might have found impossible,” Hough said.

World’s Fairs are held every five years, with Milan, Italy hosting Expo Milano from May through November. It will focus on food, culture and sustain- ability, according to the Expo Milano website.

See http://www.ppie100.org for event times and prices.

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