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Panama-Pacific International Exposition

Held in San Francisco, California, from February 20 to December 4, 1915, the official purpose of this exposition was to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal and the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Pacific Ocean by Vasco Balboa, but it also gave San Francisco an opportunity to prove to the world that it had not only recovered from the earthquake of 1906 it had prospered.

poster for the Panama-Pacific Exposition
poster for the Panama-Pacific Exposition

The Exposition was held on a 635-acre site along the northern shore now known as the Marina.

The principal exhibit area of the Exposition consisted of eleven main exhibit palaces -- Fine Arts, Education, Social Economy, Liberal Arts, Manufactures and Varied Insutries, Machinery, Transportation, Agriculture, Agricultural Products, Horticulture, and Mines and Metallurgy. The centerpiece of the exhibit area was a "Tower of Jewels," which stood 435 feet tall and was covered with over 100,000 cut glass "gems." There was also a 65-acre amusement/concession area known as "The Zone."

Among the thousands of exhibits at the Exposition were the C.P. Huntington, a steam locomotive, and the actual Liberty Bell, which was brought from Philadelphia specifically for the Exposition. A special telephone line between San Francisco and New York was laid so people in New York could hear the Pacific Ocean, and visitors to the Exposition could take a biplane ride and/or watch daily headlines being typed out on a giant Underwood typewriter. In addition to the regular exhibits, the 1915 American Grand Prize and Vanderbilt Cup auto races were held on the Exposition grounds.

As was the custom with most expositions, most of the buildings constructed for the Exposition were intended to be temporary and were torn down soon after its closing. The most notable exception to that practice was the Palace of Fine Arts, which was completely reconstructed in the 1960s and is now home to the Exploratorium, an interactive science museum.

Palace of Fine Arts
Palace of Fine Arts

San Francisco
Panama Canal
Vasco Balboa
Liberty Bell

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The Robinson Library >> Exhibitions, Trade Shows, World's Fairs, Etc.

This page was last updated on 07/08/2018.