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California Historical Society on the Anniversary of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition Sept. 19, 2015

Scroll down for the pictures and slideshow

Pictures taken August 20, 2015

In the early twentieth century, a splendid walled city of domed palaces, palm-lined courts, and monumental statuary arose on San Francisco's northern shore. The 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE)—a world's fair commemorating the opening of the Panama Canal just nine years after the devastating earthquake and fires of 1906—emerged on 635 acres of land previously submerged by water.

The fair featured eleven exhibition palaces showcasing objects from every corner of the globe, more than 1,500 sculptures commissioned from artists all over the world, 65 acres of amusement concessions, and an aviation field. Fifty California counties, forty-eight states, and twenty-one countries mounted displays in the exposition's grand pavilions. But there was also overt racism - the Race Betterment pavilion and the grossly exagerated charicatures of African Americans among others.

Then, after the fair closed, this ephemeral city was all but erased from the landscape. (The Palace of Fine Arts was a spared, and rebuilt with concrete in the 1960's.) In the intervening ten months, nearly nineteen million people—about twenty times the population of San Francisco at the time—were drawn to the spectacle.


February 22, 2015 - January 3, 2016

City Rising at our headquarters on Mission Street is an in-depth account of the fair—its planning, construction, and extraordinary components—from how San Francisco became host of the exhibition, to the fair's remarkable innovations, to its attractions and concessions. Through vintage photographs, souvenirs, and other artifacts, visitors will journey inside the exposition to see what fairgoers encountered 100 years ago.

A video series with architects, historians, curators, authors, and memorabilia collectors—all of whom embody the spirit of the fair—provides a contemporary perspective to this important cornerstone of San Francisco's past, bringing history alive for our age.

 Watch archival footage of the fair at night featuring innovative illuminations

 Watch an interview video with historian/author Laura Ackley and curator Erin Garcia

 Watch an animated video of the history of San Francisco Bay

To see a slideshow, go to any image and press "Start". To see a larger image, click on the image to enlarge, click again for full size.

Model of center one-third
of the Exposition

The Ephemeral City
Map of the entire Exposition.
Enlarge to full size to read.

Arch of the Rising Sun
Festive Hall
Jewel City named by
Oakland girl Virginla Stevens

Machinery Hall
Palace of Fine Arts
Bernard Maybeck designed
the Palace of Fine Arts

Camera. A license was
needed to take photos

Photo Licenses
Panama Canal hall
Japanese Pavilion and Gardens
The Japanese Pavilion
Xenophobia - Race Betterment
Xenophobic booth -- Race Betterment
Methods of Race Betterment
PacificTelephone Magazine
Transcontinental telephone
transmission SF to NY

Telephones used by
Alexander Graham Bell
in NY to talk with
Thomas Watson in SF.
And by Wodrow Wilson in DC
withThomas Watson in SF
and Bell in NY