Panama-California Exposition ~ San Diego ~ 1915-1916

On September 3, 1909, a special Chamber of Commerce committee formed the Panama-California Exposition Company and sent articles of incorporation to the Secretary of State in Sacramento.

The Board of Directors of the Panama-California Exposition Company, on September 10, 1909, elected U. S. Grant, Jr. to be president of the company and John D. Spreckels first vice president. Grant, son of the former U.S. president, was part-owner of the U. S. Grant Hotel. Spreckels, son of sugar king Claus Spreckels, was owner of San Diego real estate, hotels, newspapers, banks, and utility, water, transit and railroad companies. A. G. Spalding was chosen second vice president, L.S. McLure third vice president, and G. Aubrey Davidson fourth vice president.

The most important appointment made by the directors was that of real estate developer Colonel David “Charlie” Collier to be Director-General. The “Colonel” was an honorary title given to Collier by California governor James M. Gillett in 1907.

Collier shaped exposition policies. He chose City Park as the site, Mission Revival as the architectural style, and human progress as the theme. He lobbied at his own expense for the exposition before the California State Legislature and the U.S. Congress and traveled to South America for the same purpose.

San Diego voters in 1910 approved $1,000,000 in park improvement bonds for the exposition, and they published the first issue of The Panama-California Exposition Prosperity Edition.

Again possessed by exposition fever, San Diego voters, on July 1, 1913, by more than 16 to one, approved issuing a second set of park improvement bonds for $850,000. One hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars of this money were set aside to build the San Diego Stadium, east of the high school.

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