San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts, designed by Bernard Maybeck, may be the best-known remnant of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition. But the impact of the exposition goes far beyond that monumental structure. The fair, which attracted nearly 20 million visitors, commemorated the completion of the Panama Canal and marked the city’s recovery from the 1906 earthquake. Pavilions spotlighted new technologies like the automobile, air travel and the first-ever transcontinental phone call. One hundred years later, we discuss the fair’s lasting significance.
Images Of the 1915 Exposition
Courtesy of the California Historical Society
Night view of the Panama Pacific International Expo, 1915. Photographer: Unknown. Gelatin silver print.
Tower of Jewels, Court of the Universe and Fountain of the Setting Sun, 1915. Photographer: Unknown. Gelatin silver print.
Panama Canal Concession on The Zone. Photographer: Unknown. Published by Cardinell-Vincent. Postcard.
Aviator Art Smith. Photographer: Unknown. Published by the Souvenir Guide Publishers, Hobart Building, S.F., c.1915.
Deconstruction of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition – Ohio Building being floated to Coyote Point, 1916. Photographer: Unknown. Gelatin silver copyprint.
The Giant Typewriter at the Underwood Exhibit, Palace of Liberal Arts, 1915. Underwood Typewriter Company.
Aeroplane view of main group of exhibit palaces. Panels from 'Views of the Panama -Pacific International Exhibition in Natural Colors' c. 1914. Gabriel Moulin. Published by Pacific Novelty Co. Souvenir Book
Laura Ackley, architectural historian and author of "San Francisco's Jewel City: The Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915"
Anthea Hartig, executive director of the California Historical Society
Lee Bruno, journalist and author of "Panorama: Tales From San Francisco's 1915 Pan-Pacific International Exposition"; his great grandfather Reuben Hale first proposed the 1915 fair