Books commemorate 1915 Panama–Pacific expo

COURTESY  PHOTO

COURTESY PHOTO

The 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition celebrated the completion of the Panama Canal and showcased San Francisco’s emergence from the ashes of the 1906 earthquake and fire as a center of beauty, progress and innovation. PPIE100, a yearlong celebration of the exposition, includes special events, exhibits, and multiple publications.

Two handsome books – “San Francisco’s Jewel City: The Panama-Pacific International Exposition” and “Panorama: Tales from San Francisco’s 1915 Pan-Pacific International Exposition,” both by local authors – capture the excitement of planning for and attending the world’s fair, which spread across 635 acres in what are now 76 city blocks in the Marina district.

Filled with reproductions of maps, photographs, posters, postcards (many hand-tinted), promotional materials, souvenirs and other ephemera, the volumes bring the expo’s miniature city to life. Dominated by a 43-story Tower of Jewels, it included courtyards, formal gardens and palaces, each filled with exhibits and events showcasing turn-of-the-century achievements and possibilities.

Visitors – nearly 19 million – rode around a 5-acre reproduction of the Panama Canal on a moving platform. The Scintillator beamed 48 lights in seven colors across fog banks, and a steam locomotive was available to generate artificial fog.

Performers included opera singer Luisa Tetrazzini, Wild West legend Buffalo Bill Cody, and ace aviators Eddie Rickenbacker and Art Smith. French composer Camille Saint-Saens composed “Hail, California” for a 300-voice chorus, and pioneering female composer Amy Beach wrote “Panama Hymn.” John Philip Sousa led the band. Celebrity visitors included film stars Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, Mabel Normand and Charlie Chaplin. Anne Sullivan spoke in honor of Helen Keller Day, and Laura Ingalls Wilder came with her mother.

Today, apart from Bernard Maybeck’s iconic Palace of Fine Arts, nothing remains of the fair.

“Panorama,” written by Bruno Lee, grandson of Reuben Brooks Hale, a visionary businessman who spearheaded organizing the fair, offers full-page images and succinct informational essays.

In twice as many pages, “Jewel City” – by architectural historian Laura Ackley – offers a more detailed account of the fair’s history and more than 200 images. Remarkably, there is negligible overlap in the reproductions, so these volumes complement each other nicely.

If your PPIE fever isn’t quelled by these publications, two more academic offerings accentuate the exposition’s expression of empire: “Empress San Francisco: The Pacific Rim, the Great West and California at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition” by Abigail M. Markwyn (University of Nebraska Press, 2014) and “Empire on Display: San Francisco's Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915” by Sarah J. Moore (University of Oklahoma Press, 2013).

BOOK NOTES

San Francisco’s Jewel City: The Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915

By: Laura A. Ackley

Published by” Heyday Press and the California Historical Society

Pages: 390

Price: $40

Panorama: Tales from San Francisco’s 1915 Pan-Pacific International Exposition

By: Lee Bruno

Published by: Cameron + Company

Pages: 192

Price: $29.95

artsbooksLaura A. AckleyPanorama: Tales from San Francisco’s 1915 Pan-Pacific International ExpositionSan Francisco’s Jewel City: The Panama-Pacific International Exposition

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen and members of the orchestra were thrilled to be back inside Davies Symphony Hall on May 6 in a program for first responders featuring string works by Jean Sibelius, George Walker, Carl Nielsen, Caroline Shaw and Edward Grieg. (Courtesy Stefan Cohen/San Francisco Symphony)
SF Symphony makes joyful return to Davies Hall

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts program for first responders and community leaders

Students in an after-school community hub move quickly through a social circle as they play a game at the Mission YMCA on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Parents scramble for ‘Summer Together’ spaces

City program offering free camps sees high demand, confusion over enrollment

Calfire (Shutterstock)
Wildfires burn around Northern California during first red flag weekend of the year

Firefighters around the region battled wildfires all day Saturday, starting less than… Continue reading

The Port of San Francisco, which controls much of the The City’s waterfront, faces potential layoffs due to a financial crisis caused by the pandemic. 
Steven Ho/
Special to S.F. Examiner
In a financial ‘crisis,’ SF Port officials lobby for stimulus funding

Looking to right their financial ship, Port of San Francisco officials are… Continue reading

Legislation introduced by Assemblymember Phil Ting has expanded the range of people who can request a gun violence restraining order against someone. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Use of gun violence restraining orders continues to rise

For the fourth year in a row, the number of gun violence… Continue reading

Most Read