My grandfather & the Liberty Bell at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition

By Rose Marie Cleese,

I’m a third-generation San Franciscan with more than one Gold Rush ancestor on my family tree. I grew up on Union Street near Scott in Cow Hollow and our view out the back was the Marina district anchored by the Palace of Fine Arts. My mother, Rosamond Rossi (Cleese), grew up in that very same house and, in 1915 when she was 6 years old, she would walk down Scott Street every day with her maternal grandmother to spend hours in “the Zone” at the PPIE. ... Read More >

Historypin – A new PPIE100 project

The California Historical Society is proud to announce a new project with Historypin: MAPPING SAN FRANCISCO’S 1915 WORLD’S FAIR. The innovative Historypin platform enables a global community of people, groups and institutions to gather and share the history of the places that matter to them, using collections of photographs, documents, sounds and moving images to start conversations and trigger memories. ... Read More >

Pioneer Mother at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, Courtesy San Francisco Public Library

Subframe Episode 2 – Gender Armageddon

In this episode of Subframe, Kip Reinsmith explores genders roles at the Panama Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) and specifically the shifting role of women around the time of the fair in 1915. Sarah J. Moore, author of Empire on Display: San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915, walks us through some iconic and gendered imagery of the fair. She also delves into how technology was shaping perceptions of gender. ... Read More >

William Jennings Bryan speaking at Independence Day Celebration, courtesy San Francisco Public Library.

On this day – July 5

On this day in 1915, former United States Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan gave a pro-peace speech at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. The event was attended by more than 120,000 people. The fair, described Bryan’s speech: “He had resigned from President Wilson’s cabinet a little while before, and occupied the position of a sort of itinerant political clergyman, preaching peace in the midst of war and war’s alarms, bravely holding aloft the ensign of human brotherhood when close to fifteen million men in Europe were trying to starve, blast, bayonet, and gas one another to death…” (Ackley, 2014) ... Read More >

The Pacific in California

by Suzanne Fischer

From Boom Spring 2015, Vol 5, No 1

“Facing West from California’s shores, / Inquiring, tireless, seeking what is yet unfound, / I, a child, very old, over waves, towards the house of maternity, the land of migrations, look afar, / Look off the shore of my Western Sea—the circle almost circled…”

Walt Whitman’s searching verses on the Pacific gaze were made concrete at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915. The words, inscribed on a piece of monumental didactic sculpture, the Arch of the Setting Sun, in the spectacular Court of the Universe, in the fantastic sudden city, proclaimed that San Francisco, and America, had risen, and was rising. ... Read More >

City Hall and Civic Center Plaza, circa 1915, courtesy, California Historical Society, CHS2015.2010

Reflecting on the Amazing Year 1915

By James W. Haas

San Francisco is celebrating the centennial of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) but there are other dimensions to the amazing year of 1915 which are worth considering. In particular, the Exposition had a profound effect on the politics, built environment and architectural style of San Francisco. ... Read More >

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 >