CHAPTER SIX: 1916 – The Exposition Goes International
Opening day ceremonies for the Panama-California International Exposition, January 1, 1916, began in the morning with a military parade from the foot of Broadway to the Plaza de Panama. President G. Aubrey Davidson, Exposition officials, and army and navy officers reviewed the parade from the steps of the U.S. Government Building, which had been in 1915 the Sacramento Valley Building. At noon Davidson gave a luncheon for officers of the army and navy at the Cristobal Cafe. In the afternoon, over 15,000 people heard Madame Ernestine Schumann-Heink and Madame Ellen Beach Yaw sing at the Organ Pavilion.
San Diego’s Exposition was now “international,” which meant it was everything the 1915 publicity department said it wasn’t. President Davidson outlined the Exposition’s expanded role: “The eyes of the world are focused on the Sun City and the honor not only of the great state of California, but of the great West are placed in our keeping.” The schedule in January and February consisted of band and organ concerts in the afternoon and occasional guard mounts in the Plaza de Panama, and drills at the Marine camp. A few of the California county, state and commercial buildings stayed open, but the main buildings were closed for remodeling.
San Diego’s expectations for 1916 were high. Yet problems were emerging. The war in Europe was becoming increasingly destructive, bandits were harassing Americans along the southern border and in Mexico, domestic travel was declining, commercial travel through the Panama Canal was not as great as had been expected, the beach communities and Tijuana had developed attractions appealing to visitors, and downtown merchants had begun to complain about Exposition competition. In mid-January excessive rainfall caused tremendous damage. Troops at the Exposition were sent to flooded areas to protect people and property.
To improve the city’s image, Davidson asked children and adults to write letters telling of San Diego’s healthy condition.
Buildings opened as soon as new exhibits were installed. First among them, the Science and Education Building had its archaeological and cultural history halls ready on February 6 with new exhibits of Eskimos from Alaska and Carib Indians from British Guiana.
The Foreign and Domestic Products Building (the 1915 Varied Industries and Food Products Building) held commercial exhibits carried over from 1915 and had new exhibits from the Netherlands and Switzerland. Not to be confused with the Foreign and Domestic Products Building, the Foreign Arts Building, on the southeast side of the Plaza de Panama, retained its 1915 name in 1916 and accommodated a wide variety of fine art and industrial exhibits from Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan, Persia and Egypt. Directly across the Plaza from the Foreign Arts Building, the 1915 Indian Arts Building became the Russia and Brazil Building, in recognition of the icons, paintings and toys in the building, mostly executed by Russian peasants, and of the exhibit from Brazil that had moved over from the 1915 Commerce and Industries Building to make way for the Canadian exhibit.
The United States Government Building (former Sacramento Valley Building) contained displays of Treasury, War, Navy and Interior departments. In addition, the United States got the 1915 Nevada Building for its forestry exhibit and placed a fish tank and a hatchery exhibit in a newly-built Fisheries Building.
Outstanding among new displays were the exhibit from Canada in the Canadian Building (the 1915 Commerce and Industries Building) and the exhibit from France in the California and Fine Arts Buildings.
The Canadian exhibit featured scenes of Canadian harbors, a miniature train that stopped before elevators for loads of grain, and live beavers working on a dam. The French exhibit consisted of four Gobelin tapestries depicting Alexander the Great’s campaigns, Tournay carpets, and vase statuary by Rodin in the rotunda of the California Building and manikins showing Parisian dresses in the upper balcony. The Luxemburg art collection in the Fine Arts Building included paintings by Detaille, Henner, Carriere, Monet, Degas, Morot and Breton.
The first plan for the Pan-Pacific Building (former Home Economy Building) called for exhibits from Alaska, Hawaii, the Philippines, Siam, Java, New Zealand, New South Wales, China and South American countries bordering the Pacific Ocean, most of which would come from the recently-closed Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. The Pacific Coast Steamship Company, Oceanic Steamship Company, T. K. K. Steamship Company, and the Union Line would set up smaller displays, telling visitors how to get to the countries on exhibit. Movies would show local resources and natives would play the music of their homelands. Not all of this happened. Meager newspaper accounts indicate that Alaska, Hawaii and the Philippines set up striking exhibits. Managers of the Hawaii exhibit also operated a coffee shop. A concessionaire from Italy sold cameos; another, who managed a “Holy Land” exhibit, sold jewelry, rugs, laces, religious carvings and crosses. Clearly, to paraphrase T. S. Eliot, between the idea and the reality fell the shadow.
The Palace of Mines (former Washington State Building) opened with exhibits from mines in Southern California, Utah, New Mexico and Montana. The Point Loma Theosophical Society purchased and remodeled the Kansas State Building.
New attractions on the Isthmus came from the San Francisco Exposition’s “Zone.” These included the Robinson Wild Animal Show, Elizabeth the Lilliputian, “the thinking horse” Captain, the undulating picture “Stella,” and the girl shows, “Paris After Midnight” and “Sultan’s Harem.” Also new were an ice rink in the 1915 Alhambra Cafeteria, a City of Jerusalem, and an alligator farm on the Isthmus. Animal trainer G. Kaufman looked after animals from the defunct Wonderland Amusement Park in Ocean Beach at the north end of the Isthmus.
Leap Year Court, so called because of the extra day in 1916, fitted in the space behind the Montezuma Gardens. Sculptures of a bear surmounted by a goddess and two large Cupids, gifts to San Diego from the Sacramento Valley Commission, decorated the court.
Troops A, D, K and L of the First Cavalry left the Exposition for border patrol duty in Arizona on March 13.
The Royal Italian Band, under conductor Alfredo Tommasino, gave its first concert Saturday evening, March 4, in the Plaza de Panama.
Some 45,259 people attended official Exposition Dedication Day ceremonies March 18. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels pressed a button in Washington, D.C. at noon that resulted in the ringing of a great gong in the Plaza de Panama and the unfurling of flags of 18 foreign nations. Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane, in the Plaza de Panama, lauded San Diego in a speech carried by a new sound system from “Magna-vox.” A banquet at the Cristobal, a carnival on the Isthmus, and an open-air ball on the Plaza de Panama rounded out the day.
A 50-mile automobile race, consisting of 44 laps, took place on the Isthmus, March 25.
On April Fools’ Day, a boy rode an ostrich from the Ostrich Farm, girls from “Paris After Midnight” waved from floats, and camels and horses from the Animal Show added their exotic colors to a parade down Broadway..
A Battalion of the 21st Infantry, consisting of three companies of 266 men and a band, set up camp on the Tractor-Aviation Field in early April.
District Attorney Spencer Marsh, April 21, informed Exposition secretary Penfold of his intention to close “Sultan’s Harem” because of “indecent exposure.” Penfold retorted: “It is my honest conviction that the opinion formed by a particular individual as to the decency or indecency of the show directly reflects the mental attitude of that individual.”
Walter Damrosch conducted the New York Symphony Orchestra at the Organ Pavilion on April 22 and 23. To get such a distinguished orchestra, the Exposition had to guarantee the orchestra $3,250. The sale of seats at 75 cents apiece for each concert enabled the Exposition to break even.
In honor of the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, 500 schoolchildren at the Organ Pavilion, on the afternoon of April 29, put on a pageant of Shakespearean characters. That same evening, students from the School of Dramatic Expression, acted in scenes from Romeo and Juliet and The Taming of the Shrew.
In May, the Ford Motor Company mounted an exhibit on the Tractor- Aviation Field. An art collection from the Netherlands replaced the Luxemburg collection at the Fine Arts Gallery. Onlookers were amazed by the realism of “Head of a Cow” by Henrikus Alexander Van Ingen.
Three companies of the First Battalion of the 21st Infantry left for Nogales, Arizona, May 10, to hunt for Mexican bandits.
On the evening of May 17, students from San Diego High School acted scenes from As You Like It on the east side of the lagoon in front of the Botanical Building. The classical background and fountain provided suitable scenery, but the moon, which would have made everything glow, did not appear.
Pied Piper Day, May 27, was the big event in May. Wearing clothes similar to those in Maxfield Parrish’s painting of the story, attorney Hubert Collins of Coronado emerged from Cabrillo Canyon to demand payment of the mayor and council of Hamelin for ridding the town of rats. (The analogous situation of Hatfield the Rainmaker, who had been denied payment by the San Diego City Council, was alluded to in the dialogue.) After being refused payment, the Piper summoned an estimated 13,000 children to follow him by playing on his flute. He led the children over Cabrillo Bridge, across El Prado, to the Isthmus. Piper and children disappeared into the Panama Canal Building, which stood for the mountain into which the children of Hamelin vanished. Here a show of thunder and lightning, hobgoblins and gnomes gave the children frantic thrills. The children came out on the other side of the building and continued to the Tractor-Aviation Field where they were entertained by a vaudeville show and Indian dances.
Directors spent June trying to counteract statements from E. T. Earl, publisher of The Los Angeles Tribune, that they were promoting gambling, horse racing and assorted vices in Tijuana. Earl’s motive in making this charge is not clear, but he may have been seeking an excuse to default on his subscription pledge of $5,000.
To encourage greater local participation in the Exposition, directors offered season tickets at a low price of $5.00 each.
The book The Architecture and Gardens of the San Diego Exposition came out in June. For the first time, San Diegans discovered that Bertram Goodhue, architect-in-charge, considered Exposition work by Frank P. Allen, Jr. and Carleton Winslow to be temporary, coarse, theatrical and uninspired. Goodhue insisted that their buildings be torn down.
The 4th Regiment of U.S. Marines left the Exposition June 5 to put down a rebellion in Santo Domingo.
On the evening of June 8, a touring company put on The Servant in the House by Charles Rann Kennedy at the Organ Pavilion. Tyrone Power, Sr. acted the part of a worker in sewers who progressed from sinner to saint and showed other characters the folly of their ways.
Students from the State Normal School produced Admetus, by Irving Outcalt, on the evenings of June 16 and 19. The nights were mild, the moon luminous, and the Organ Pavilion’s classic setting in harmony with the story of Alkestis, wife of Admetus, who gave herself to death in place of her husband and was restored to life through the efforts of Heracles.
About 16,000 people watched the Turnverein of Southern California perform acrobatics at the Marine parade grounds in the morning and on the Plaza de Panama on the afternoon of German Day, June 25.
U.S. Naval Surgeon G. S. Thompson, who helped organize the San Diego Museum and the Zoological Society of San Diego, came out with a novel idea on June 20. “The one legal ground that a private museum corporation has that will permit it to occupy city-owned buildings in a public park is that the museum authorities maintain exhibits that will be free, i.e., without admission charges, and open at all times to the public.”
Independence celebrations got under way July 3 when the Pathfinder, a twin-six automobile, started on a transcontinental trip from the Plaza de Panama to Philadelphia. Jack Little, in a Maxwell automobile, leaped over ten barrels of burning oil on the Tractor-Aviation Field, and 1,600 militiamen of the newly- arrived Oregon National Guard were greeted at an open-air ball on the Plaza de Panama.
July 4 began with a civilian preparedness parade from Broadway to the Plaza de Panama. Europe being in the throes of World War I, preparedness people were fervent that the United States should be ready to take on foreign and domestic enemies. D. C. Collier read the Declaration of Independence on the Plaza and schoolchildren put on a flag drill. Coloratura Ellen Beach Yaw sang at the Organ Pavilion. George Gray dived through fire on the Isthmus, and Jumping Jack Little in his Maxwell car leaped over some more barrels. Fireworks illuminated the night sky.
To keep the boys from Oregon from being scandalized, District Attorney Spencer Marsh closed “Paris After Midnight” and “Streets of Algeria,” July 6.
Carl Heilbron began advocating turning the temporary Exposition buildings into a military academy. Reverend R. D. Hollington, of the First Methodist Church, favored using the buildings for a community center or a university campus.
John F. Forward, Jr. tried to dampen such schemes by declaring:
“This plan of locating county and city buildings at the Exposition is bunk, piffle and slush. The park was set aside for use of the people and it was specifically stated it was to be used for park purposes only.”
Madame Bernice de Pasquali, coloratura soprano from the Metropolitan Opera, gave a concert for more than 10,000 persons at the Organ Pavilion on the afternoon of July 23. Her singing of “Thou Brilliant Bird,” from David’s opera, The Pearl of Brazil, left her audience gasping for breath.
Attendance in July peaked at 209,485 people, making it the highest monthly attendance of the year. Some 45,259 people paid to enter the grounds on July 4, almost the same total as the 42,433 people who visited the Exposition in the whole month of February.
The Entertainment Committee sponsored a highflying contest over the Aviation Field on Kite Day, August 2. A lucky contestant for first prize won a burro, born and bred in the Indian Village. Leagues ahead of the other flyers in dexterity and skill of design, the Chinese Club of San Diego put on a spectacular show, but refrained from competing for prizes.
Dancers Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn performed a pageant, “The Life and After-Life of Greece, India and Egypt,” at the Organ Pavilion on the evening of August 5. A wild orgy in honor of Bacchus in the Greek section raised eyebrows.
The John Trask collection of American paintings opened in the Fine Arts Gallery August 6. Cecilia Beaux’s bold brushwork and lively characterization in her portrait of “Dorothea and Francesa” evoked comment.
The Chamber of Commerce, August 11, appointed George W. Marston, Carl Heilbron and W. S. Dorland to look into preserving the Exposition buildings.
A drill team from Los Angeles presented arms to the sound of bugles as the host and chalice were raised during a military mass at the Organ Pavilion on Catholic Sunday, August 13.
Billy Webber, “the human fly,” took an hour and a half to scale the California Tower on the evening of August 14.
In a speech at the Organ Pavilion, on the afternoon of August 22, New York Governor Charles Evans Hughes, Republican candidate for President of the United States, criticized the Wilson administration for lowering tariffs and interfering in Mexican affairs and praised American industry, labor, women and children. Exposition directors allowed the public in free, beginning at 12:30. The San Diego Union reported 40,000 people in the audience, a figure considerably larger than the 25,000 reported by the Los Angeles Times. Whichever number is correct, Hughes outdrew all other speakers at the Organ Pavilion in 1915 and 1916. Ironically, his whiskers, regular white teeth, and dignified demeanor drew more attention than his dry, laborious speech.
Exposition architect Frank P. Allen, Jr. told the Preservation Committee on September 1 that all buildings should come down except for the California Building and “possibly” the Administration Building. He claimed the park should be used for recreation, not for buildings. (Interestingly, Allen took a similar position in Seattle at the conclusion of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition when he urged that Exposition grounds be turned into a public park.) The Committee voted to remove the Canadian Building, the Varied Industries Building, and the Cristobal Cafe.
The Preservation Committee appeared to be unaware that Congressman William Kettner was trying to persuade the U.S. Government to take over the entire Exposition compound at the conclusion of the Fair.
Over 11,000 people were present to observe the 66th anniversary of California’s admission to the Union on September 9. The celebration began with a parade from Broadway to the Exposition. Judge John F. Davis of San Francisco extolled the glories of California at the Organ Pavilion. Drills, musical concerts, and a woman’s reception enlivened the afternoon. A dinner at the Cristobal and an open-air ball on the Plaza de Panama closed the day.
Despite the presence of American troops on Mexican soil seeking to capture bandit and rebel Francisco (Pancho) Villa, the Exposition celebrated Mexico’s Independence Day September 16, with a mock bullfight, games, sports, a piñata party, and the inevitable open-air ball.
That same day, while driving down Park Avenue, Dr. Harry M. Wegeforth heard the roaring of lions at the Isthmus and remarked to his brother Paul, “Wouldn’t it be splendid if San Diego had a zoo!” Later, on October 2, Dr. Fred Baker, a physician, opened his home for the first meeting of the newly-organized Zoological Society of San Diego.
The Second Battalion of the 21st U.S. Infantry arrived from the border with Mexico September 22 and set up quarters on the Tractor-Aviation Field. The military was once more on the grounds.
On September 23, Indians at the Painted Desert danced eagle, corn and butterfly dances; then invited onlookers to a feast of corn, squash and barbecued goat.
Frank P. Allen, Jr. told a reporter for the Evening Tribune on October 3 that the Exposition buildings would soon become unsightly and unsafe and the plants that grew around them were already concealing their facades. He offered to lay out a new ground plan without charge.
Senator J. Hamilton Lewis, Democrat of Illinois, blasted Republicans before about 1,500 people in the War of the Worlds Building on the evening of October 6. Even though Lewis was not a candidate for the presidency, as was Governor Hughes, the Exposition opened its gates to the public after 6 p.m. so people could hear him.
On October 21, the Hearst International Film Service filmed the action as the 2nd Battalion of the 21st Infantry stormed the Painted Desert and forced the Indians to surrender. According to the official script, the Desert harbored about 4,000 warriors before the battle, of whom only 12 were left when the slaughter had ceased. The pictures made were to be shown in weekly periodicals and woven into screen dramas.
Flyer Joe Boquel began an engagement October 28 by doing evolutions above the Tractor-Aviation Field. Before taking off the next night, he had engine problems. During his gyrations, a San Diegan blinded him by focusing a searchlight on his plane.
Movie star Mabel Normand and fifty schoolchildren buried a revolver and a rifle in Montezuma Gardens on Peace Day, October 30, to show their dislike of war. Though shocked by the carnage in Europe, many Americans thought the United States should stay out of the conflict.
On November 3, G. A. Davidson asked the Park Board for authority to continue the Exposition for three months in 1917. Exhibitors wanted the extension to take advantage of an anticipated influx of eastern tourists. Wisely, they had secured the support of Mayor Edwin Capps.
While doing a “corkscrew” November 4, Joe Boquel drove his airplane into the ground near Cabrillo Bridge, causing his death. The accident happened five minutes before he was to have been awarded an Exposition gold medal.
Mother Goose Day, November 25, was the most exciting day of the month. Playground Department employees Cornelia Strobhar and Hulda Hanker trained about 150 children to enact the stories of Mother Goose. Characters included Jack and Jill, Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater, King Cole, and Mother Goose.
The month ended with a Thanksgiving Service on November 30 at the Organ Pavilion. Dr. Stewart was the organist and Ellen Beach Yaw the soloist. Dr. Charles Locke, of the First Methodist Church of Los Angeles, said the United States was justified in conquering enemies and in expanding because its mission was “to proclaim liberty and peace throughout the land.” This carte-blanche statement leads one to wonder which adversaries the United States was to conquer. Were they Indians, Wobblies, Mexicans, or Germans?
The Parent Teachers’ Association sponsored a three-day Children’s Fair, beginning December 1. Over 7,000 exhibits in the Casino on the Isthmus covered arts, crafts, electrical and mechanical appliances, millinery, toys, woodwork, and kindergarten pasteboard creations.
The Park Board on December 3 decided the Southern California Counties Building could be used as an auditorium and the Nevada Building as a natural history museum. The following day the Board approved the Exposition’s request for a 90-day extension until April 1. Professional opinion and Preservation Committee recommendations being in favor, the Board, on December 11, approved the demolition of the Canadian Building and the El Prado portion of the Varied Industries Building.
On December 9, using trenches, land mines, guns, searchlights, barbed wire, light bombs, and antiaircraft guns, troops of the 2nd Battalion of the 21st Infantry successfully defended their camp near the Aviation Field from simulated attacks by sailors from the cruisers USS San Diego and Frederick, and aviators in four planes from the government station on North Island.
On the afternoon of December 10, Douglas Fairbanks, Senior used the California Building as a backdrop for a film called The Liberator, a movie dealing with conspiracies and insurrections in Paragonia, a mythical Central American country. (A mythical name was chosen as a real Central American country would have protested the film’s condescending American treatment of its people and internal affairs.) In the scene, Fairbanks and his bride, daughter of the President of the country who had been deposed by anti-American generals, come out of a church (the California Building) followed by a Negro servant and the bride’s father. Miss Anita Loos of San Diego, who wrote the script, sided with her valiant and verile American hero, who single-handedly subdued the loathsome mestizo generals and restored the refined Spanish aristocrats to power.
The School Department and the Exposition joined forces to entertain about 15,000 schoolchildren with games, sports, talks, music and box lunches at the Fair December 15, the last day of school in 1916. During Bird House Day, December 16, schoolchildren exhibited bird houses of all shapes and sizes in the Foreign and Domestic Products Building (the 1915 Varied Industries and Food Products Building).
To show their feeling for birds, the children represented song sparrow, towhee, titmouse and wren in a program at the Organ Pavilion.
On Christmas night quartets sang carols from balconies on the Plaza de Panama before walking to the Organ Pavilion. To illustrate the carols and readings from the Bible, volunteers at the Pavilion posed as living pictures of the Nativity Story.
During the Exposition’s last five days, officials looked back over two years of activity and honored the people and institutions who had made it possible.
On Army and Navy Day, December 27, the Exposition’s Entertainment Committee gave enlisted men of the armed services a picnic lunch at Pepper Grove and officers a more impressive midday meal in the Cristobal Cafe.
In the afternoon, Tommasino’s band honored author George Wharton James by giving a concert of grand opera music at the Organ Pavilion. As the featured lecturer of the 1916 season, James had given many talks in the San Joaquin Building on literary subjects.
Prominent San Diego citizens eulogized John D. Spreckels at the Organ Pavilion and at a lunch and dinner on December 28. During one of the sessions, George W. Marston made a major political blunder when he said: “I consider the giving of this instrument (the Spreckels organ) greater than building railroads or steamships. We who live in San Diego can live without means of transportation, but we cannot live without music.”
A tribute to D. C. Collier on December 29 followed the same schedule as that given for Spreckels.
About 250 schoolchildren presented a floral pageant at the Organ Pavilion on Sunday afternoon, December 30, directed by Cornelia Strobhar and Hulda Hanker. Billy Whitten, seven years old, as Peter Pan presided over fairies, butterflies, canaries, daisies, bees, poinsettias, and poppies.
Exposition directors on December 31, presented Alfredo Tommasino, leader, and Louis Gasdia, manager of the Exposition band, with gold medals at the Organ Pavilion. Since the directors had spent so much time congratulating themselves, it was fitting that they should acknowledge two of their most valuable employees.
On the Exposition’s last day, January 1, 1917, directors honored their president, G. Aubrey Davidson. Without Davidson there would have been no Exposition, for he conceived the idea and, for two years, received important visitors and managed affairs. In the morning, Davidson reviewed a parade of soldiers, sailors and marines on the Plaza de Panama. Following the review, Carl Heilbron, vice president of the Exposition, presented Davidson with a gold watch. He received more honors as a guest in the Women’s Official Reception Room in the afternoon and as a guest at a dinner in the Cristobal Cafe in the evening.
A series of climatic events on the last day left an indelible impression on the nearly 30,000 people on the grounds. As indulging in simulated warfare had proven to be a great crowd-pleaser, the First Battalion of the 21st Infantry cut its way through wire entanglements and crawled through exploding mine fields to capture a fort held by the 2nd Battalion, on the Tractor-Aviation Field.
President Davidson presented opera singer Madame Schumann-Heink with a jeweled medal during the closing program at the Organ Pavilion, beginning at 11:30 p.m. As the contralto sang “Auld Lang Syne” at midnight, lights at the Pavilion and in the Plaza de Panama went out. When the last strains of the song ended, a pyrotechnic piece atop the organ spelled out in glowing colors “WORLD PEACE – 1917.” While Schumann-Heink led a chorus in singing “The Star- Spangled Banner,” bombs exploded above the incandescent letters, releasing flags of all nations.
Paid attendance during the second year of the Exposition came to 1,697,886 which represented a decline of 352,144 people, or 17 percent, from the paid attendance of 2,050,030 in 1915.
The 1915 Exposition closed with a net surplus of $56,570. At the close of 1916, the Exposition had a net of $34,000 and two unpaid guarantee subscriptions aggregating $10,000. In contrast to the 24-month San Diego Exposition, the 1915 San Francisco Exposition lasted 9.6 months, attracted 18,876,438 people and netted $2,401,931.
San Francisco’s Exposition attracted more people and made more money, but its impact upon California was not as great as San Diego’s. The massive Beaux-Arts architecture at San Francisco, a repeat from previous expositions, was losing its appeal. Even the innovations at San Francisco, such as the interior linkage of courts, vibrant colors and indirect lighting, were not enough to carry the Imperial style forward. During the 1920’s movie stars and moguls built homes in the small-scaled, dynamic, and heavily-textured Spanish-Colonial style of the San Diego Exposition. The influence of San Diego’s Fair became so widespread that even San Francisco was affected, as witness the Spanish-Churrigueresque-style church next to Mission Dolores.
Bertram Goodhue had taken the romantic views of the Spanish and Mexican periods present in the writings of Helen Hunt Jackson, Charles Fletcher Lummis, George Wharton James and Gertrude Atherton and had shifted them to a new, even more unhistoric plane. The Dons and Doñas of rancheros in early nineteenth-century California had become grandees from Vice-Regal Mexico’s Silver Age living in palaces, cathedrals and plazas. It was an attractive fantasy of a refined, artistic, courteous and genteel civilization that was a far-cry from the cold, gigantesque Classic beauty, sepulchral melancholy and eerie infernal lighting of San Francisco’s Exposition.
To George Wharton James, the vast and ponderous San Francisco Exposition was an overpowering, muscular Greek athlete while the small-scale and friendly San Diego Exposition was a young and attractive maiden.
In esthetic and psychological terms that cannot be measured by turnstiles and cash registers, the San Diego Exposition surpassed San Francisco’s, for its fantasy was not based on escapism only, but on the hope of a better and richer life for Californians then alive and yet to come.
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