1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition

Playing host to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, which ran from February 20 to December 4, 1915, San Francisco held one of the most extravagant and memorable world's fairs on record. Many had described this fair as culmination of what world's fairs had hoped to achieve. Honoring the discovery of the Pacific Ocean by Vasco Nuņez de Balboa and the completion of the Panama Canal, this exposition was of special significance to San Franciscans in particular and to Californians in general. It illustrated to the world San Francisco's amazing resurrection after the devastating earthquake and fire of 1906.

In 1911 after a long competition in advertising and campaigning, President Taft proclaimed San Francisco to be the official host city over New Orleans. Californians rose to the occasion, funding much of the extravaganza themselves. Architects and designers went all out in designing the fair's buildings. There never before had been a fair whose architectural focus had been so all encompassing. After the devastating setback of the 1906, this was San Francisco's opportunity to shine -- to present itself as a modern, efficient palace of commerce. The fair exemplified to the world that San Francisco was a place of economic stability, social refinement and sophistication, and intellectual and technological modernity.

Among the themes to be examined in this exhibition are the entrepreneurial efforts of Charles Moore, who spearheaded the campaign to have the exposition come to San Francisco and served as the PPIE President. The exposition grounds became an ideal mini-metropolis where folks could come together in peace -- an architectural utopia, a wondrous combination of large scale, competent design (with contributions from major local and international architects including Ernest Coxhead; Bernard Maybeck; McKim, Mead and White; Thomas Hastings; Bakewell and Brown). Further unifying the efforts were the contributions of Jules Guerin who conceptualized the harmonious pastel color theme and John McLaren who worked on the exposition's landscaping design. In addition fantastic nighttime illumination of the fair, designed by General Electric, added to the dramatic effects.

The women of the state also had a prominent role at the fair. Operating from the California Building, a massive structure covering five acres, the Women's Board of the Panama Pacific International Ex-position contributed economic as well as social commitment to the project. They supervised many of the special events and social occasions held throughout the fair. In addition, they actively promoted peace and universal suffrage. In the wake of World War I, women at the fair, in general, advocated for peace and unity, sponsoring special days set aside to recognize these goals.



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