CHAPTER FIVE: 1915 – San Diego Has Its Year of Glory
Nineteen hundred and fifteen was San Diego’s most notable year in the twentieth century. The Panama-California Exposition held in San Diego that year put the small town in the southwest corner of the United States on the map and convinced some people, but not all, that its name was spelled S-a-n D-i-e-g-o and not S-a-n-t-i-a-g-o.
After its crowd-packed January 1, 1915 opening the Exposition went into a slump. Of the 180,270 people who visited the Exposition in January, about 100,000 entered the gates during the first week. The books showed a net loss of $3,000. Rain may have deterred some visitors, but a national economic depression dissuaded others. Officials were inept in coping with the situation. They allowed barkers to spiel on the Isthmus, lowered children’s admissions to 10 cents on Saturdays, and dropped annual adult tickets from $25 to $10, but also ordered main buildings to be closed on Sundays, kept regular adult admissions at 50 cents on weekdays and 25 cents after 6:00 p.m. and on Sundays, and charged people with cameras an additional 25 cents. Managers of state and county buildings disregarded Exposition rules and set their own hours.
An “Exposition Road Race” held Saturday morning January 9 at Point Loma attracted 50,000 people. Winners of the race, including Earl Cooper, who averaged slightly over 65 miles per hour, received their prizes in the afternoon at the Plaza de Panama. The holding of such a popular event simultaneously with the Exposition was a miscalculation, for attendance at the Exposition that day was only 6,112.
On Saturday, January 16, the Exposition celebrated Stockholders’ Day and San Francisco Day, the latter to honor about 125 delegates from San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific Exposition. Merchants released employees and schools released pupils to greet the delegates. Total attendance came to 14,793.
February was devoted to quelling rumors that the Exposition was about to close. Attendance declined to 133,162 but, due to a reduction in expenses, the Exposition showed a net profit of $13,000. During this period of gloom a finance committee, chaired by Julius Wangenheim, got John D. Spreckels to sign a guarantee loan to the Exposition of $100,000. The money did not have to be used, as attendance picked up.
To stimulate business, concessionaires on the Isthmus built a stage at the north end of the street and began offering free vaudeville shows.
Visitors began coming by train and on a Great Northern Pacific Steamship Company passenger steamer by way of the Panama Canal, but the rains continued. A much ballyhooed “Straw Hat Day,” scheduled for February 2, was postponed to February 11 when the San Diego Consolidated Gas and Electric Company’s whistle announced to all who could hear it that the sun was shining.
The next striking event that month was a cavalry review on February 12, before Exposition president G. Aubrey Davidson on Park Avenue (6th Street), between Laurel and Upas Streets, outside the Exposition grounds. Sixteen platoons of First Cavalry awed spectators with a display of superb horseback riding.
A two-day Chinese New Year celebration on February 13 and 14, arranged by Quon Mane, a leader of the local Chinese community, centered on the Isthmus where a 300-ft dragon with gleaming eyes and smoke pouring from its mouth made its way along the street as firecrackers exploded around it. About 500 Americans of Chinese descent from San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco participated in the festivities.
In honor of George Washington’s birthday, the State of Washington held a potlatch in its building and gave away apples, cider and gingersnaps. In the evening the Women’s Board of the Exposition sponsored a two-hour dance in the Plaza de Panama. Couples danced to the music of the Exposition’s Spanish band while spectators watched from the arcades.
In March attendance had grown to 153,042, still below the January level, but the net profit had reached $24,467.97. The increased attendance reflected the lowering of railroad rates from the east coast which went into effect after March 1. A League for the Preservation of Exposition Buildings held its first meeting March 9. Dr. Edgar L. Hewett was already planning to perpetuate the anthropological exhibits in the buildings where they were located.
W.C. Bobbs, president of Bobbs Merrill Publishing Company, suggested using buildings and grounds for an agricultural fair; a plan that was actually implemented from 1919 to 1930.
The Tewa Indians, whom Dr. Hewett had brought to the Indian Arts Building from New Mexico in late February to give demonstrations of pottery making and blanket weaving, announced they could not live in the building, and were allowed to join other Indians in the Indian Village/Painted Desert. They continued to give demonstrations in the Indian Arts Building.
To take care of the 600 acres of Balboa Park beautified for the Exposition, citizens, on March 23, passed an amendment to raise their contribution to city parks from a minimum of five cents and a maximum of eight cents per $100 of assessed valuation to a minimum of eight cents and a maximum of twelve cents.
On the afternoon of March 23, about 20,000 people paid tribute to opera singer Madame Ernestine Schumann-Heink at the Organ Pavilion. Six thousand school children sang “America” for the diva, who sat in the audience. Mayor Charles F. O’Neall gave her an honorary citizenship award. In return Madame Schumann-Heink promised to give a free concert for school children in June.
On March 28, Vice President of the United States Thomas R. Marshall, Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane, and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt reviewed troops of the First Cavalry on the Plaza de Panama. The horses had their iron shoes filed to prevent damage to the pavement. Roosevelt promised reporters San Diego would become a supply and liberty port for the U.S. Navy.
The military provided the main interest in April with a sham battle on the Fair grounds on April 6 by cavalry and marines for Lubin movies; a review at the cavalry camp April 14 for Congressman William Kettner; and a cavalry review on the tractor field, west of the Alameda, April 24.
On April 4, Easter Sunday, some 600 children hunted for about 1,000 eggs hidden in the shrubbery, trees and grass of the Pepper Grove.
A relieved president Davidson reported on April 11 that the Exposition had made a profit of $40,000 during its first three months.
A boisterous ’49 Camp on the Isthmus threw open its log gates in April. Supposedly recreating the lawless atmosphere of mining towns in California during the Gold Rush, the camp was crowded with patrons anxious to dance and to gamble with play money. About 20 “ladies” in the camp danced and flirted with visitors. Judging from the consternation the camp caused among “the pillars” of San Diego, the camp was the most popular attraction on the Isthmus; which is to say, the most popular attraction at the Exposition. A new dance hall, with 15,000 sq. ft. of space, also opened on the Isthmus.
Giuseppe Creatore and his band arrived April 24 for a two-week engagement. This was one of many bands to play on the grounds, a roster which included the Australian Boys Band, the Pacific Electric Band, the Ford Motor Band and the Los Angeles Silver Star Band. The Exposition also had four bands of its own: the 13th Artillery Corps Band, the 4th Regiment Marine Band, the First Cavalry Band, and the 30-piece Spanish Band. Concessions, such as the Cristobal Cafe and Hawaiian Village and dance halls on the Isthmus had their own orchestras.
In late April, Mrs. Uriel Sebree of the Women’s Board started a day nursery behind the California Building, to care for babies and youngsters while their parents were enjoying the sights. She coaxed businesses and individuals in the city to donate portable houses and play equipment. Before the year was over, more than 900 babies and children had been left in the nursery.
Attendance in April came to 151,148 which did not seem enough to justify president Davidson’s jubilant declarations.
On May 3, a troupe of Spanish musicians and dancers enlivened the plazas, patios and balconies of the Exposition. Women in the troupe had a habit of addressing their most ardent love passages to modest-appearing young men in the audience, to the mock consternation of the male guitarists who escorted them.
Coast artillery companies from Fort Rosecrans and Marine Corps and Cavalry at the Exposition held a field meet May 8 on the parade grounds of the Marine encampment. On May 22, the Ad Club of San Diego sponsored a military-civilian parade from downtown San Diego to El Prado with Colonel Joseph B. Pendleton as field marshal. That same day, 2,000 delegates from Los Angeles rollicked on the Isthmus, and thespians from the San Diego School of Expression enacted scenes from Alcestis, Everyman, Romeo and Juliet and The Rivals on the lawn south of Montezuma Garden.
Jose Guadalupe Estudillo of San Jacinto was the Exposition’s honored guest, May 26. He was a member of one of the oldest families in San Diego and had been president of the San Diego Board of Trustees, May 26, 1868, when the trustees set aside 1,400 acres of pueblo land as a park. Estudillo recalled he supported the proposal because he wanted to keep the land off the market.
On Dedication Day, May 31, an athletic stadium, built with Exposition bond money, opened east of San Diego High School, outside the Exposition grounds. Some 20,000 people took advantage of the free admission to watch a track and field program.
About 179,440 people attended the Fair in May.
Gertrude Gilbert, chairperson of the Women’s Music Committee, chose Mrs. J. L. Selby to sing “My Soul” and “One Hundred Years From Now” by Grossmont resident Carrie Jacobs Bond at the Organ Pavilion, June 2.
Afterwards, at a tea in the Women’s Headquarters, Miss Bond sang “A Perfect Day,” her best known composition. A Men’s Entertainment Committee organized a daytime military parade from Broadway to the Exposition and an evening outdoor ball in the Plaza de Panama in honor of Admiral Thomas Benton Howard, commander of the Pacific Fleet, June 8. Teddy Tetzloff won a speed contest of 50 yards in eight seconds flat during a Maxwell car race on the tractor field, June 12.
Acting on complaints from churchgoing people, District Attorney D. V. Mahoney arrested S. A. Burnside, manager of the ’49 camp June 17 for conducting a gambling operation. That same day, 300 Marines from the 25th, 26th and 28th Companies of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Regiment, left the Exposition on the cruiser USS Colorado for Guaymas, Mexico. Their mission was to persuade Yaqui Indians to stop molesting Americans. The 27th Company stayed at the Exposition.
Composer Mrs. H. H. A. Beach of Boston, guest of Gertrude Gilbert, listened to Mrs. L. L Rowan of San Diego sing her songs, “Dearie” and “Ecstasy” at the Organ Pavilion, June 28. Later at the Women’s Headquarters, Mrs. Rowan sang “Oh, Were My Love” and “The Years at the Spring,” also by Mrs. Beach.
The biggest event in June occurred at the Organ Pavilion on the evening of June 23. Madame Schumann-Heink sang before over 20,000 people. At her request, children under 16 were admitted free to the grounds. This kindly woman radiated happiness and tenderness. Nowhere did she show this faculty better than at her Balboa Park performances. Her selections included folk songs for children and art songs for adults. A reporter for the San Diego Union liked the intensity and dignity with which she sang “Heimweh” (“Longing for Home”) by Hugo Wolf, and the humor she introduced into an anonymous ballad, “Spinnerliedchen,” about a girl who would spin only to catch a lover. The gracious singer said the thundering applause was “positively the greatest tribute I have ever received in my life.”.
About 166,135 people visited the Exposition in June.
In July, the Exposition took off. Some 61,414 people visited the Fair during a three-day Independence celebration, July 3, 4 and 5. Tiny Broadwick leaped from an airplane at an altitude of 3,000 ft. on all three days; fireworks exploded above the grounds every afternoon and evening; and children marched in a “Spirit of ’76” parade on the afternoon of July 5.
A summer school opened at the Exposition July 5 and ran to August 13. Dr. Edgar L. Hewett lectured on archaeology, John Harrington spoke on linguistics, William T. Skilling talked on agriculture, and Dr. F. A. Martin described the history and geography of Central and South America. The lecturers used scientific and anthropological exhibits in the buildings and horticultural and agricultural displays on the grounds. The Andrew Carnegie Endowment for International Peace underwrote lectures on Central and South America and lectures on current international problems. Students paid $7.50 for the term, which fee included admission to the Exposition.
The Brazilian exhibit, put together by commercial interests at the instigation of Dr. Eugenio Dahne, opened July 6 in the Commerce and Industries Building. More people visited this exhibit than any of the other commercial exhibits. Staff workers decorated a two-story native house of a rubber gatherer in the Amazon, with heads and skins of Brazilian deer, wild boar, jaguar, wild cat, otter, sloth, stuffed monkeys, birds and other animals and with collections of Indian bows, arrows, clubs and lances. Waitresses served free to visitors coffee, made from freshly roasted beans, and mate, made from the leaves of a tree. Waitresses also sold chocolate, cigars, cocoa, guarana, manioc flour, nuts, rubber, tobacco, and woods but did not give away samples.
Coloratura Ellen Beach Yaw sang at the Organ Pavilion July 3 and July 24; lyric soprano Marcella Craft sang July 14; and baritone James Hugh Allen sang July 30. Tsianina Redfeather (Blackstone), of Cherokee-Creek extraction, sang songs by her accompanist, Charles Wakefield Cadman, including “I Hear A Thrush at Eve” and “The Land of the Sky Blue Water,” at the Organ Pavilion, July 6. Dr. Hewett stopped by to invite Tsianina to see the Indian exhibits. He confided to her his feeling toward Indians:
“My mother made me promise her when I grew to manhood, I would give all my efforts towards doing something for the American Indian that would let the world see him as he is, and not as the wild west shows, cheap fiction and moving pictures present him ”
To make sure July had enough melody, the Yuma Indian Band gave concerts on the Plaza de Panama in the afternoon and on the Isthmus in the evening of July 18, and the 200-voice Mormon Tabernacle Choir, from Ogden, Utah, gave three free concerts at the Organ Pavilion, July 16, 17 and 18. The choir endeared itself to the audience by singing the popular “I Love You California.”.
On Education Day, July 12, Maria Montessori, educator and physician from Rome, Italy, and P.P. Claxton, United States Commissioner of Education, spoke at the conclusion of Dr. Stewart’s daily organ recital. Madame Montessori described in Italian her theory that children should direct their own education while an interpreter translated her words. She spoke with the enthusiasm of a believer. In a calmer manner, Claxton said children should get a sound education so they might someday earn a good living.
More than 7,000 Elks visited the Exposition on July 16. An Elks drill team won a prize on the Plaza de Panama in the afternoon. Spurred on by high spirits, the Elks inundated the Isthmus in the evening, barking for concessionaires and throwing serpentine at one another.
William Jennings Bryan, the “Great Commoner who had resigned as Secretary of State on June 8, spoke on “The Causeless War” at the Organ Pavilion on July 17. His audience included members of the Royal Order of Moose, in San Diego for a two-week’s convention.
Evoking the wrath of patrons, District Attorney Spencer Marsh, on July 17, closed the bank for sale of scrip at the ’49 camp, effectively shutting down the gaming tables and roulette wheel.
Taos Indians from the Indian Village stole motion pictures of sacred festivals from the New Mexico Building, July 24. They held their showing to be contrary to the laws of their tribe. The note the Indians left read:
“Bad mediceen- –indians have bad luck—all sick. Pichers of race must burn—indians all get well.”
Former Colonel and President Theodore Roosevelt spoke at the Organ Pavilion on the evening of July 27. He scored talkers of peace, opposed international arbitration, and advocated a standing army of 200,000. Like Bryan, he urged San Diego to keep the Exposition going for another year, adding:
“I feel you are doing an immense amount from an educational standpoint for the United States in the way you are developing the old California architecture and the architecture of the Presidio, and I want especially to congratulate New Mexico on having adopted and developed the American form of architecture.”
Roosevelt greeted many Indians at the Indian Village/Painted Desert compound whom he knew personally and had special words of praise for “Theodore Roosevelt Trujillo,” a newly-arrived baby the Indians had named after their former “Great White Father.”.
The first battleship squadron, composed of the USS Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin, entered San Diego harbor on the morning of July 28. Eight hundred and fifty Annapolis midshipmen were on board. That same morning two battalions of midshipmen passed in review before Colonel Roosevelt in the Plaza de Panama. Exposition Directors held a ball in the Plaza de Panama in the evening at which the middies made up part of the 1,000 spectators who looked on and of the 500 couples who danced on the Plaza.
The month ended with the celebration of Japanese Day, July 30. A committee of 100 Japanese Americans decorated buildings and grounds with about 10,000 Japanese lanterns. In the morning, two Japanese aviators flew over the grounds, dropping Japanese coins wrapped in tissue paper. In the afternoon, Japanese athletes engaged in a tug-of-war, a lantern race, a spoon and chopstick race, and a fencing battle-royal in the Plaza de Panama. In the evening, Japanese-Americans, carrying lanterns and dressed in native and modern garb, paraded across Cabrillo Bridge to the tractor field.
At a banquet in Cafe Cristobal, G. Yusa, president of the Japanese Association of Southern California, told the Caucasians there assembled:
“No matter what criticism may be made, no matter what racial prejudice may exist, no matter what anti-alien law may be passed by the crooked politicians, no matter what color of hair, skin or eyes, we are just as loyal to this country and just as sincere boosters of Southern California as you gentlemen.”
About 301,937 persons attended the Exposition in July.
While no national figure of the stature of Bryan and Roosevelt visited the Exposition in August, several attractions kept attendance high.
H.O. Davis resigned as Director-General on August 1. E. J. Chapin, who had been director of exhibits, succeeded him.
On the evening of August 3, the 146 member Chicago Haydn Society sang at the Organ Pavilion. W. Seymour, a critic for the San Diego Union, complained the sounds of electriquettes, children and babies prevented him from hearing the pianissimo passages.
For three days, August 5 to August 7, Russian actress Alia Nazimova presented War Brides, by Marion Craig Wentworth, at the Organ Pavilion, a devastating drama of the agony suffered by women during war.
The Ford Motor Band, consisting of 50 pieces and 54 members, who were electricians, upholsterers, mechanics, and clerks and also musicians, gave two concerts at the Organ Pavilion, August 8 and 9. They played a march called “The Ford” by Sickel at both concerts. The San Diego Union described the music as “the popular sort that sets feet to patting and making people declare, You, old world, are not so bad after all .”.
Ex-baseball player and evangelist Billy Sunday writhed, twisted, jumped, perspired, scolded, howled and entertained at the Organ Pavilion, August 9.
On August 10, three companies of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Regiment, U.S. Marines, returned to the Fair from the west coast of Mexico on the USS Colorado after it had been determined a landing would not be necessary.
Aviator Art Smith performed loop-the-loops over the tractor field, August 11 and 12.
Two troops of the First Cavalry departed for Calexico August 20 to discourage depredations along the border by followers of Pancho Villa. The two troops left in Balboa Park continued their parade, drill, and concert duties for the Exposition.
Indians from the Pala and Rincon reservations set up camp on the tractor field for five days beginning August 25. They were there supposedly to celebrate the Fiesta of San Luis Rey. A San Diego Union reporter referred to San Luis Rey as “a Spanish padre of the old Mission days,” a designation Saint Louis IX, King of France, might have found disconcerting. On the first day of their encampment, the Indians attended an outdoor mass, composed by Exposition organist Dr. Stewart and sung by the clergy and choir of St. Joseph’s Church of San Diego. For the rest of their time, they played peon for prizes donated by the Exposition management, took part in war dances, and engaged in foot races. Five Indian policemen, two Exposition guards, a government special officer, and Father George Boyle, the reservation chaplain, kept watch over the Indians.
Spanish tenor Florencio Constantino sang before 5,000 at the Organ Pavilion, August 25. He included old Basque songs in his recital because, he said, they had been sung by Spanish missionaries. Though Constantino’s voice was in decline, he achieved a success at the Exposition second only to San Diego’s most loved singer, Madame Schumann-Heink.
Attendance at the Fair in August came to 229,604 people.
September began with a 3-day celebration, September 4, 5 and 6 in honor of Labor Day. Scheduled events included an electriquette costume parade, competitive drills by the Fraternal Brotherhood on the Plaza de Panama, a concert by the Hampton Institute Negro quartet, and double parachute jumps by Tiny Broadwick.
An observance of the 65th anniversary of California’s Admission Day took place September 9. In the morning a great parade, with floats depicting periods of California history, wound its way from Broadway to the Plaza de Panama. Chief Iodine, 89 years old and a former scout of John C. Fremont, rode a bronco at the head of the parade. N. E. Gilson, Silas St. Johns and Amos Weed, Gold Rush prospectors, rode in an old Wells Fargo Express Company stagecoach. A gymkhana at the tractor field in the afternoon consisted of potato, sack, umbrella, egg, animal and shoe races. An outdoor ball at the Plaza de Panama in the evening concluded the day’s celebration.
On Movie Day, September 10, silent film stars Francis X. Bushman and Beverly Bayne, as king and queen, participated in a parade along El Prado, a coronation at the Organ Pavilion, a dinner at the Cristobal, and an open-air ball in the Plaza de Panama.
Major General George W. Goethals gave talks describing the construction of the Panama Canal on September 13, one to children at the Panama Canal concession in the afternoon and another later in the day at the Organ Pavilion. In honor of General Goethals’ engineering achievement, Exposition managers allowed children to attend his talk without paying admission.
Former President William Howard Taft spoke to 7,189 people at the Organ Pavilion, September 16. With 18,870 for Theodore Roosevelt, and 18,264 for Bryan, Taft came in third in the contest for listeners. He praised the Spanish architecture, and favored keeping treaty obligations and creating an international congress. His program was the same as Roosevelt’s, but he presented it with more dignity and less exuberance.
Marines jousted in afternoon field events on Marine Day, September 18, and danced in the evening at an open-air ball.
Announcing plans to preserve “temporary” Exposition buildings to house exhibits, the San Diego Museum Association, on September 18, filed articles of incorporation. George W. Marston was elected president of the Association.
Exposition officials pulled out all stops for motion-picture producer Sigmund Lubin, September 24. They escorted him through the grounds and entertained him at a banquet in the Cristobal. He responded, as his hosts hoped he would, by promising to locate a studio in the city.
New Mexico contralto Claudia Albright charmed an audience at the Organ Pavilion, September 30, with selections in English, German, French and Italian.
Approximately 170,074 people visited the Fair in September.
On October 2, Reverend E. L. Lowe married Alice C. Hoffman and Clifford A Sheller at the top of the Ferris wheel on the Isthmus. No connection supposedly existed between this event and the observance of Bible Day at the Organ Pavilion on the same day.
On Invalid’s Day, October 14, volunteers drove automobiles loaded with invalids into the Exposition. The invalids saw marines drill on their parade grounds, applauded a concert at the Organ Pavilion, and enjoyed attractions at the Indian Village.
Civilian packers attached to the First Cavalry showed visiting members of the American Railway Association how fast they could pack and unpack mules, October 15.
Momentum to continue the Exposition increased. Mayor Edwin M. Capps, on October 14, announced his support. Businesspeople in Los Angeles began a campaign for $75,000 in cash and $75,000 in guaranty pledges to make a second year possible.
Mayor Capps, on October 16, said he wanted to put an Army-Navy school on forty acres of Balboa Park.
A chorus of more than 100 voices sang a solemn high mass in D minor, composed by Dr. Stewart, at the Organ Pavilion on Catholic Day, October 24. A company of U.S. Marines, 2,000 lay members, 56 altar boys, and 25 clergymen participated in the mass.
In the afternoon, Father James A. Callahan of Our Lady of Angels Church in Los Angeles baptized “Theodore Roosevelt” and “San Diego,” newly arrived babies at the Indian Village/Painted Desert.
The most exciting day in October was October 29 when inventor Thomas A. Edison, in his 68th year, and automobile manufacturer Henry Ford, in his 52nd year, visited the Fair together. Edison was in favor of and Ford against national preparedness for war. When the automobile bearing the pair entered the Plaza de Panama, about 12,000 schoolchildren buried Edison in flowers. Edison declined comments to the press, except to say, “I’m solid for children.” Ford, on the other hand, was effusive in his comments against war.
The visitor counts in October reached 133,000.
The red-jacketed, plaid-skirted Kilties Band performed Scottish songs, highland flings, Irish jigs, operatic selections, waltzes, sentimental solos, and patriotic medleys from October 23 to November 6. Overcome with admiration, a San Diego Union reporter wrote, “No musical event at the Exposition has afforded more pleasure… than the concerts given… by this organization.” Tenor Florentino Constantino returned to sing at the Organ Pavilion on November 11. As amplification had not yet been introduced, a strong breeze blowing in the wrong direction prevented an estimated 10,000 people at the Pavilion from hearing pianissimo passages.
To arouse interest in the Exposition and to prove San Diego should become the terminus of a Southern national highway, a cross-country automobile tour left San Diego on November 2. The caravan journeyed on the newly-built plank road over the sand hills of Imperial County and across the bridge at Yuma. It arrived in Washington, D.C., twenty-three and a half days later.
A stunt man on the Isthmus, November 4, thrilled onlookers by leaping from a bicycle at a great height into a tank of water and then into a tank of flaming gasoline.
Schoolchildren prepared 2,700 exhibits of after-school work for display November 11, 12 and 13 in the public service hall of the Commerce and Industries Building. Exhibits included pet animals, models of vessels, an electric theater, and miniature automobiles and airplanes.
Schoolchildren rode electriquettes and depicted fairies, flowers and flies during a pageant on the Plaza de Panama on Children’s Day, November 12.
The Liberty Bell from Philadelphia arrived at the Santa Fe Depot on the afternoon of November 12. A combined civilian/military escort loaded it on a special car and took it to the Exposition. A platform had been set up to receive it in the Plaza de Panama. The precious relic stayed there until the afternoon of November 14. Bells and whistles sounding over the city at 8:30 a.m., November 13, signaled the start of the official reception. Between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m., 12,000 schoolchildren, admitted to the grounds free, placed floral tributes on the platform. At 2:00 p.m., George W. Marston introduced Mayor Capps and dignitaries from Pennsylvania — the Liberty Bell’s home state — who spoke in praise of liberty. The San Diego Choral Society concluded the program by singing patriotic songs.
San Diego Day, November 17, brought forth an outpouring of civic spirit. The day began with an organ recital by Dr. Stewart, followed by a parade of decorated automobiles from the north gate to the Plaza de Panama. Bands representing East San Diego, the 13th Coast Artillery Corps, and the 4th Regiment, U.S. Marine Corps performed in the Plaza de Panama and at other locations. The Modern Woodmen of America executed special drills and gymnasts from the Young Men s Christian Association and the Turnverein of Southern California exercised on the parallel bar, and skipped rope in the Plaza de Panama. Amateur teams played baseball on the diamond at the Marine camp and the Raja Yoga orchestra and chorus performed at the Organ Pavilion. To amuse children who might find the parade, sports and concerts too adult, the Exposition sponsored potato and sack races, pie-eating contests and other games at the Isthmus.
At the Organ Pavilion in the evening, Justice J. Edward Keating concluded a mock Spanish wedding by announcing that youngsters Manuel Madriguel and Maria Concepcion Gonzalez were husband and wife. Some 900 people ate home grown produce and danced at the Cristobal Cafe, the largest gathering since New Year’s Eve. A masked ball on the Isthmus brought the day’s events to a rousing close. According to a turnstile count, 16,746 people paid to enjoy or to participate in the day s activities.
The City allowed the ’49 Camp to reopen, November 18. Sheriff Conklin was to keep careful watch to see that the games complied with State laws forbidding gambling for money..
Aviatrix Katherine Stinson did the loop-the-loop over the Isthmus eight times from a 1500-ft. altitude while raining rosebuds upon spectators on the afternoon of November 20.
The tally of visitors to the Exposition in November came to 149,066.
December was so slow newspapers neglected to report the month’s attendance. Officials were preoccupied with preparations for the Panama- California International Exposition, which was to open symbolically on January 1, 1916.
Music programs consisted of a band concert at 1:30 in the afternoon, followed by an organ recital at 2:45.
Some events did take place if for no other reason than to support the claim that San Diego had held the first year-round Exposition.
The Board of Directors allowed children in free on the afternoon of December 2 and everybody in free in the evening. A Yama-Yama costume parade, the playing of music by a 20-piece band, and outdoor dancing on the Isthmus attracted tourists and those San Diegans who had not become surfeited with Exposition thrills.
The San Diego Floral Association conducted tours of the grounds, December 4. The formal rose garden on the west side of the Cabrillo Bridge and the canna fields behind the California Building were in gorgeous bloom.
John Campbell Hamilton-Gordon, the 7th Earl of Aberdeen, described his experiences as Viceroy of Ireland from 1905 to 1915 in the Commerce and Industries Building, December 7. His wife, Lady Aberdeen, also spoke on “The Triumph of Civic Awakening.” Admission to the talks cost 50 cents, with proceeds going to Irish Relief.
President Aubrey Davidson informed the Chamber of Commerce, December 14, that the continuation of the Exposition was not his doing. Julius Wangenheim later confirmed this statement. Since repeating the Exposition was too much for most of the 1915 Board of Directors, they resigned.
Promises of financial aid from Los Angeles businesspeople, from railroad company executives, from Harrison Gray Otis, owner of the Los Angeles Times, from Guy Barham, owner of the Los Angeles Herald, from newspaper owner William Randolph Hearst, and from Chamber of Commerce officials outside San Diego convinced Davidson to change his mind. With support from Mayor Capps, Louis J. Wilde, Carl H. Heilbron and George Burnham, Davidson supervised the transforming of the Panama-California Exposition Corporation into the Panama-California International Exposition Corporation.
As an outside consultant was not hired to examine the books at the end of 1916, as newspaper reports were inaccurate, and as Exposition President Davidson and Exposition Secretary Penfold gave different figures, the exact financing of the 1916 Exposition is unclear.
As near as can be determined, Los Angeles subscribers gave $75,000 and a like sum in a guarantee fund to meet deficits. San Diego subscribers pledged $50,000. Audit books ending March 31, 1917 state $43,256.50 was received from the Los Angeles guaranty fund. The City of San Diego made no special contribution to the 1916 Exposition other than covering some fire, police, water, lighting, and street maintenance costs, for which it expected to be reimbursed. The State of California approved transferring $50,000 out of surplus Panama- Pacific International Exposition funds to maintain the California Building. Congressman Kettner persuaded the U.S. Congress to give the 1916 Exposition $76,000, the government’s unexpended balance from the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
Letters of intent to incorporate the Panama-California International Exposition were filed on December 22 and the State issued a new charter on December 27. The newly constituted Board of Exposition Directors, consisting of nine directors from Los Angeles, one from Riverside, two from Coronado, and nineteen from San Diego, elected Davidson president on December 28.
While the Board was being set up, Davidson and his aides were persuading exhibitors at the San Francisco Fair and the U.S. Government to transfer or install new exhibits at San Diego. Canada, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia agreed to come to San Diego and the U.S. Government agreed to take over the Sacramento Valley Building and to erect a building for the Bureau of Fisheries at the south end of the Isthmus.
At an Exposition stockholders’ meeting, December 20, stockholders voted to convey the exposition grounds and buildings to the City of San Diego. By this action the City became the holding company and the new Exposition Corporation the operating company of the 1916 Exposition.
As about $200,000 in unpaid subscriptions for the 1915 Exposition were outstanding, Attorney Lane Webber, acting on the direction of C. H. Tingey, auditor of the Exposition, sued in the District Court to collect the delinquent payments. Stockholders who honored their pledges received no return on their investments as whatever surplus was left at the close of 1915 was turned over to the 1916 Exposition. The 1915 stockholders expressed a hope that 1916 stockholders would give them free family tickets. Newspapers do not show if the request was granted.
Responding to a petition from George W. Marston, the Board of Park Commissioners, on December 21, agreed to set aside the Science of Man Building for the San Diego Museum Association to use during 1916 and the California and Fine Arts Buildings for the Association to use after 1916.
Under the presidency of Mrs. Ivor N. Lawson, the Women’s Board of the Exposition had coordinated the many activities of the Exposition in 1915. Through their kindly assistance Mrs. George McKenzie, who supervised afternoon teas, and Mrs. Jarvis Doyle, who managed the house committee, helped to reinforce the Exposition s warm and caring atmosphere..
To climax their year’s planning of events, the Women’s Board prepared a gala December 25 Christmas party. Working alongside the women, the Shriners from the Al Bahr shrine set up a 60-ft. pine from Cuyamaca in front of the organ and hung hundreds of stockings stuffed with candy and toys on its branches. On Christmas morning the Shriners gave the stockings to 4,500 children, then took them to see the War of the Worlds show on the Isthmus and Indian Village.
In the afternoon, Dr. Stewart played Christmas music on the organ. In the evening, three vested choirs sang carols from the balconies of the Home Economy, Science of Man, and Indian Arts Buildings on the Plaza de Panama. Afterwards, they gathered on the steps of the Sacramento Valley Building and, carrying lighted tapers, went to the organ where they continued their program. The event marked the first citywide Christmas celebration in San Diego since pioneer Mexican settlers in Old Town performed La Pastorela.
The last day of the Panama-California Exposition, December 31, began with a combined review of officers and men of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Regiment, U.S. Marines, the First Cavalry and the Coast Artillery held in the Plaza de Panama.
Concessionaires on the Isthmus allowed everyone free entrance to rides and shows. They arranged for the newsboys of San Diego to box on the band stand in the evening. After the bouts, the Rosette Mexican Quintet and the Coast Artillery Band provided music for outdoor dancing. At the Cristobal Cafe, a follies girl show and oriental dancers gave way at midnight to a tableau depicting the passing of 1915 and the coming of 1916.
As the evening drew to a close, a monster display of aerial bombs and noisemakers above the grounds culminated in a grand outburst at midnight.
About 17, 074 people witnessed the passing of the old year and the coming of the new.
A final tally showed 2,050,030 admissions by tickets and passes during 1915. And this from a city whose population was roughly 50,000! An audit of the books from the inception of the Exposition in 1910 to April 30, 1916 by W. J. Palethorpe showed profits during 1915 of $233,721.81. As part of this money went to pay indebtedness and deficits, the Exposition treasurer turned over a net surplus of $56,570 to the 1916 Exposition on April 30.
San Diegans on December 31, 1915 could look back with satisfaction over a year of concerted community effort and collective celebration unprecedented in the city’s history. They could see corollary benefits from the Exposition in the improvements of their downtown and harbor. And they had great expectations that the 1916 Exposition would enlarge their cornucopia of benefits.
To some the passing of 1915 evoked pathos. Their emotions at the end of such an extraordinary year mixed sorrow with joy. Yet the fleeting, poignant images they had seen had passed into their subconscious where as memories they became a fertile source of delight and wonder.
“Whither is fled the visionary gleam? Where is it now, the glory and the dream?”
Return to Amero Collection.
Ch. 1 The Making of the Exposition
Ch. 2 The Exposition Gets Under Way
Ch. 3 Native Americans Come to Balboa Park
Ch. 4 East Meets West in Balboa Park
Ch. 5 1915 – San Diego Has Its Year of Glory
Ch. 6 1916 – The Exposition Goes International
Ch. 7 1917 – The Exposition Mop-Up
Ch. 8 Sources and Attributions