Fair Reading About the Panama Pacific International Exposition

If you’re looking for a summer reading list, Thomas Gladysz at The Huffington Post wrote a great round-up of all the literature currently available on PPIE, including Laura A. Ackley’s San Francisco’s Jewel City: The Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915:

“San Francisco’s Jewel City takes readers on a richly detailed tour of the PPIE, revealing the drama behind the building of the fair (a massive undertaking not unlike the building of a city), as well as the many displays of industry and culture that awaited visitors within the exposition. The sections on the fair’s inspiration and construction, ticketing, attractions, and merchandise — as well as on Liberty Bell day, Audrey Munson ‘The Exposition Girl,’ and its air shows and automobile races all make for fascinating reading. In so many ways, this lavishly illustrated volume is as much a triumph as the fair itself. No San Franciscan should be without it.”

Read the full article on huffingtonpost.com


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Phoebe Hearst at the PPIE

By Eva Ulz, curator of the History Center of San Luis Obispo County. Ulz is co-curator of a new exhibition, Phoebe Apperson Hearst: California’s Grande Dame, on display at the History Center’s museum through October 2015.

Phoebe Apperson Hearst, honorary president of the Woman’s Board, exerted a quiet yet pervasive influence on the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Widow of Senator George Hearst and mother of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, Phoebe was one of the wealthiest women in America, an internationally renowned philanthropist, and honored by her fellow Woman’s Board members as “the most distinguished woman of California and second to none in the country.”1 Her work for the exposition encompassed everything from entertaining visiting dignitaries at her hacienda in Pleasanton to decorating the California Building and organizing—and substantially funding—the Traveler’s Aid Society. ... Read More >

The Scintillator, Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Courtesy Ron Plain.

Jewel City Rebus (Subframe #01)

In this guest post, we introduce Tony Gannon of Subframe and the first episode of a podcast exploring the Panama Pacific International Exposition and its place in the history of San Francisco and the country.

Subframe is cinematically-driven storytelling, drawing on elements and themes from history, literature, science, technology, as well as the world around us. We like to think of ourselves as time traveling documentarians bringing stories from afar, packaged with a stylish bow. At our best, we’re both entertaining audiences while also giving them something to think about. Our partnership with the California Historical Society has provided us with a unique platform to delve into California’s rich history, something we are really excited about and that we want to share with as many people as possible.

We begin each episode with research – mostly reading whatever we can get our hands on. With the help of experts in the field, we hope to weave together a unique perspective through cinematic storytelling, appealing to the novice as well as the expert. The cinematic component is a great challenge: making history come alive implementing what we’ve learned as audio/visual storytellers in an audio-only format. With backgrounds in film editing, this ... Read More >

San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts. Photographer: Jesse B. Cook. Courtesy California Historical Society.

The Temple

This essay is excerpted with permission from Gary Kamiya’s excellent book Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco (Bloomsbury, 2013). To learn more about the architectural legacy of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, visit the California Historical Society on Wednesday, April 22 for Inventiveness and Innovation: Contemporary Architects and the Influence and Impacts of Architecture and Architects of the 1915 World’s Faira panel discussion with Hans Baldauf of BCV Architects, Marc L’Italien of EHDD, and Jay Turnbull of Page Turnbull, moderated by John King, urban design critic at the San Francisco Chronicle. ... Read More >

On this day – April 13

On the evening of April 13, 1915 the Panama-Pacific International Exposition celebrated “Illumination Night” in honor of Walter D’Arcy Ryan – the founder and first director of General Electric’s Illuminating Engineering Laboratory whose visionary lighting would become one of the most enduring memories of the PPIE. ... Read More >