The Journal of San Diego History
Fall 1985, Volume 31, Number 4
Thomas L. Scharf, Editor

by Richard W. Amero
First Prize, Copley Award
San Diego History Center 1985 Institute of History

Images from this article

THE California-Pacific International Exposition, held in Balboa Park in 1935-36, was a milepost in San Diego’s history. Of the people who backed the exposition, architect-in-charge Richard Requa did the most to determine its final shape.1

Talk of holding a second exposition had begun before the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition had closed. Instead of being torn down, as the exposition’s master architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue had advised, the temporary buildings on Balboa Park’s main avenue, El Prado, had been patched up in 1922 and again in 1933.2

In August 1933, Frank Drugan, former field representative for the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain, visited the renovated El Prado, admired its appearance, and suggested to San Diego businessmen that they use the buildings as the nucleus for a second exposition.3 As dynamic promoter for the second exposition, Drugan assumed the role Colonel “Charlie” Collier had taken for the first.

Chicago’s 1933-34 Century of Progress Exposition was in its final year. Many of its exhibits could be transported easily to San Diego. The exposition’s promise of a happy and prosperous future had appealed to people beleaguered by the Great Depression.4

Frank G. Belcher, assistant cashier and vice president of the First National Trust and Savings Bank of San Diego, became the second exposition’s president, the office G. Aubrey Davidson had held in 1915-16.5 Davidson came back as chairman of the Board of Directors.

Principal members of the management team were Zack Farmer, Managing Director;6 J. David Larson, Executive Manager;7 Frank Drugan, Executive Secretary;8 H.O. Davis, Director of Works; H.H. Barter, Supervisor of Construction;9 Waldo Tupper, Director of Exhibits;10 Richard Requa, consulting architect;11 and Juan Larrinaga, Hollywood artist responsible for decoration.12 Out of 211 executive employees, more than one hundred came from outside the city, a subject of reproach by local businessmen ignored by local newspapers.13

In September 1934, the San Diego City Council concluded its agreement with the exposition directors to spend $50,000 for park improvements related to the exposition.14 Following this agreement, plans began to take on substance. By the end of December, alterations had been made on the older buildings along El Prado and a start had been made on the House of Pacific Relations. Construction of new exhibit palaces began in January.15 During the two months before the opening, as many as 2,700 workers in three eight-hour shifts rushed the project to completion. They prepared foundations of the Palace of Electricity and Varied Industries, the Ford, and other buildings before anyone knew what the buildings would look like when finished.16

Over $1,233,000 were spent on construction exclusive of State and Federal funds. This money came from $650,000 in public subscription funds, funds from the sale of space to exhibitors and concessionaires; and funds from the advance sale of tickets.17

At least half the plant already existed in the Spanish-Colonial palaces along EI Prado.18 Occupants of these buildings were told to get ready for an exposition, and they fell willingly into line.19

Requa helped invent the California-Spanish architectural style, a style he derived from Spanish vernacular architecture.20 For the second exposition, Requa designed Spanish Village and the House of Pacific Relations in his characteristic style.21

Spanish Village and the House of Pacific Relations were originally conceived as a unit, but were separated later as the functions of each were defined.22 In September 1934, J. David Larson suggested setting up a typical exposition “Villages of the World” northeast of EI Prado to house foreign exhibits. Each village would reflect the architecture of the host country. Plans were drawn for Oriental, Russian, German, Italian, French and Mexican sections. No Spanish section was included as the buildings along EI Prado already conveyed a Spanish atmosphere.23

In October, Frank Drugan took over as “director of foreign participation.”24 Drugan changed the name of the foreign section to House of Pacific Relations, located it at the entrance to the Palisades, and changed its design to “California hacienda architecture.”25 Despite the Pacific Ocean emphasis of the exposition, the “Pacific” in the title of the House of Pacific Relations meant peaceful. Construction on fifteen cottages began in November. As late as February 1935, G. Aubrey Davidson said the houses in this complex were to be reproductions of famous Spanish and Mexican haciendas.26 As built, the Spanish-vernacular style cottages blend so well with their natural setting they are almost indistinguishable.

The diminutive houses were used by consular officials of twenty-one nations as headquarters and meeting places. They were not used for exhibit or commercial purposes. Then, as now, the life of the colony revolved around its plaza where events and festivities of the participating countries were celebrated.27

In December 1934, plans for a large-scale “Villages of the World” were again taken up.28 This time the villages were to be an adjunct of a fun zone. They would contain a Spanish group of six buildings, an Aztec group of four, a Palestine group of five, and other buildings as clients arose.29 Spanish Village alone was built in April 1935.30 This functionally and stylistically integrated complex consisted of flower, art, music, curio and wine shops, a Chinese bazaar, a children’s theater, a cocktail lounge, and restaurants. One and two-story buildings, joined at the sides, were painted white and topped by red-tile roofs pitched in a multitude of angles. Shifting planes, lines and colors were so interrelated the whole was a picture of clarity, depth and movement. Olive trees, potted flowers, stalls, seats and fountains, which adorned the Village’s patios and its large central plaza, animated and softened the scene.31

Requa’s other exposition buildings were not in his characteristic style. He said they were extensions of Bertram Goodhue’s work for the first exposition. Since Goodhue and his assistants had concentrated on sixteenth and seventeenth-century Spanish-Colonial architecture, Requa would show southwestern architecture before and after this period.32

Exhibit buildings put up in the Palisades, southwest of the organ amphitheater, were in the severe style of vast blank walls decorated with thin relief popularized by the Chicago Century of Progress Exposition.33 These long horizontal packing crates were ornamented with frescoes, colored lights, hanging gardens and flowering vines.34 Requa thought the massive square Federal Building was outstanding.35 For this building the artist Larrinaga converted bold stonework motifs of frets and rain-god masks, taken from the Palace of the Governor at Uxmal, into flimsy fibre-wallboard approximations. These he hung as a frieze on the exterior.36 Most people thought the circular Ford Building, at the apex of the Plaza de America, was the exposition’s architectural wonder. Walter Dorwin Teague designed the 90-ft. tower fronting this great building to look like a gear-wheel laid on its side. Teague was not an architect, but a designer of flat irons, radios and cameras.37 The 108-ft. Standard Oil Tower of the Sun, on the other side of the Plaza de America from the Ford Building, soared proudly upwards. Its original Art Deco ornamentation reinforced the excitement of the building’s changing volumes.38

The central Plaza de America integrated the buildings around it.39 The plaza had great flower beds, broad sidewalks lined with palms, and six high columns of water spouting from fountains which changed colors to correspond with the changes in mood of music coming from hidden loudspeakers.

Requa’s most lasting contributions to Balboa Park were the Gardens of the Casa del Rey Moro, taken from gardens of the same name in Ronda, Spain; the Alcazar Garden, taken from the famous gardens in Seville; and the patio of the House of Hospitality, taken from the patio of the State Museum in Guadalajara, Mexico.40 Chauncey I. Jerabek designed the cactus garden behind the Palace of Education as a tribute to San Diego horticulturist Kate Sessions.41 Other appealing gardens were the agave and succulent garden near the Palace of Natural History;42 a rock garden in the patio of the House of Pacific Relations,43 and the California rose gardens south of the organ amphitheater.44

The Plaza del Pacifico on the Avenida de Palacios (today the Plaza de Panama on El Prado) functioned differently in 1935 from 1915. During the first exposition the large central plaza was the scene of dances, drills, sports events, and public receptions. Arcades and steps of the delicately filigreed Sacramento Valley Building to the north served as reviewing and band stand.

Requa put a Spanish style Arch of the Future in the middle of the plaza with the arch spanning the Avenida de Palacios and the sides facing north and south.46 The arch housed flood lights and a public address system. To further break up the plaza, large low pools were put on the north and south sides of the arch. These pools reflected images of surrounding buildings. One of the pools contained an ornamental barge from which troubadours serenaded visitors.47

Exhibit palaces were generally true to their descriptive titles . . . Palace of Natural History, Palace of Food and Beverages, Palace of Better Housing, Palace of Fine Arts, Palace of Science, Palace of Electricity and Varied Industries, Palace of Education, and Palace of Water and Transportation.48

Among notable features was a display behind the Palace of Better Housing of block after block of tiny, simply-designed modern homes, complete in minute detail, which periodically turned over and, in their place, appeared horrible examples of outmoded gingerbread homes.49

Gold Gulch occupied a canyon between the model homes and Pepper Grove. Here unpainted shacks, an iron-barred bank, a Chinese restaurant and laundry, a dance and a music hall, and a dummy suspended in midair from a hangtown tree recreated the atmosphere of a mining town from the Days of ’49.50 Barkers lured “drugstore cowboys” to a “shootin’ gallery,” where, if they were lucky, they could put the lights out everywhere in the Gulch by hitting the bull’s eye.

A nudist colony of about fifty members read books, played handball and ate vegetables in Zoro Gardens at the northern tip of Gold Gulch. Patrons of the Gulch were quick at discovering knotholes in the wood fence separating the two attractions.51 Compared to Gold Gulch Gertie, who was arrested for impersonating Lady Godiva, and to dancers in concessions along the Midway, the nudists were models of decorum. Chief of Police George M. Sears saw that the women wore brassieres and G-strings. The men, who were past their prime, had long beards and wore trunks. The “Zoro” in Zoro Gardens was the name of a bogus sun-god whose full name was supposed to be Zoroaster, the name of a Persian prophet (660 B.C.7-583 B.C.?) who was definitely not a sun-god.

About 150 Indians from thirty tribes occupied Indian Village, a survival from the first exposition at the northeast end of the grounds. Here they made rugs, baskets and arrows, portrayed the “sun dance” and “snake dance,” and took part in pretended stagecoach holdups and attacks on covered wagons.52

The Fair’s most popular attractions were the Midway and the Ford Building. These appealed to different facets of the human personality . . . the desire to be entertained and the desire to be master of machinery.53 A midget city and a midget farm on the Midway, where more than 100 Lilliputians worked and played, attracted more visitors than any other concession.54 When people tired of looking at the midgets, they could marvel at a four-legged girl, a girl without arms and legs, a man immune to fire, and other human oddities in Robert Ripley’s “Believe-It-Or-Not.”55 Barkers lining the Midway sold live turtles with “Souvenir of the Expo” painted gaudily on their shells.

The exposition opened on the morning of May 29, 1935 with a parade across Cabrillo Bridge into the Plaza del Pacifico. The dedication came at eight in the evening when President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House telephoned his greetings. After this, two orphan girls at the exposition, acting for the President, threw switches for the lights to go on.56 Except for the Palace of Transportation, the Palace of Water, the U.S. Housing Exhibit, Falstaff Tavern, Camp George Derby, and the Civilian Conservation Corps camp, which opened later, the exhibits were ready.

Directors did not make the same production out of speeches and ceremonies that was made in 1915-16. As attractions were dedicated separately, as the newly-built 3000-seat Ford Bowl adjoining the Ford Building was more comfortable and had better acoustics than the organ amphitheater, and as the public address system sent announcements throughout the grounds, there was no need for the organ amphitheater or the Plaza del Pacifico to act as a central focus.

Julius Wangenheim, chairman of the exposition finance committee, hinted something was amiss, July 8, when he called for less grandiose promotions and for greater economy.57 The resignations of Zack Farmer as managing director, along with J. David Larson and Waldo Tupper on July 1558 and their replacement by Philip L. Gildred, Hal Hotchkiss and Douglas Young gave substance to Wangenheim’s misgivings.59

A highlight of the first season was the visit of famous Hollywood sex siren Mae West, June 9. Mae quipped: “I’m sorry I didn’t know the fleet was coming in tomorrow as I certainly would have come down then. I’m very patriotic that way.”60

Former President Herbert Hoover visited on June 1861 and again on September 17.62 Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson spoke on July 1863 and again on September 27.64 “Sister” Aimee turned down an invitation to visit the nudist colony. General Plutarco Elias Calles, former president of Mexico, who visited the exposition in mid-July, requested his presence go unacknowledged.65 Calles was followed by fighter Jack Dempsey on August 4,66 old-age pension leader F.E. Townsend on August 27,67 and President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mrs. Roosevelt on October 2.68

The Roosevelts lunched in separate rooms in the House of Hospitality,69 after which they went to the stadium next to San Diego High School. Here, before 50,000 people, the President spoke in support of his “good-neighbor” policy toward Latin America.70 During his visit, Roosevelt told Frank Drugan that San Diego’s exposition should become a permanent attraction dedicated to preserving the good-neighbor policy.71

The most important special day during the first year was July 21 named Madame Ernestine Schumann-Heink day in honor of the great contralto then in her 74th year. Madame Schumann-Heink sang “the Star Spangled Banner” before a San Diego audience for the last time.72 Other important days were September 24, in honor of Kate Sessions, “the mother of Balboa Park;”73 and October 30, in memory of J.D. Spreckels, the donor of the organ amphitheater.74

The Old Globe Theater drew a large audience.75 This theater was located to the north of the San Diego Museum (former California Building). Except for a canopy to keep out wind and weather, it was open to the sky. Here an acting company, directed by Thomas Wood Stevens, repeated its triumph at the Chicago Century of Progress Exposition by presenting five, sometimes six, roughly one-hour versions of Shakespeare’s plays daily. Regular tickets were forty cents for adults, but weekday matinees were twenty-five cents. Children under twelve were allowed in for fifteen cents. A seven-year-old boy at one of the performances announced to the world his astounding discovery, “You know I prefer Shakespeare to Shirley Temple.;76

Alpha the Robot, a 2000-lb., chrome-plated, steel giant, received visitors in the Palace of Science. He stood up, sat down, answered questions, smoked cigarettes, blinked his eyes, and fired a pistol on command.77 When Alpha was asked if he loved his wife, he replied ungallantly: “I’ve a heart of steel. I don’t love nobody and nobody loves me.”78 Alpha was not the technical marvel he appeared to be since an unseen operator controlled many of his movements.79

The 30th Infantry set up a model camp, June 29, called Camp George Derby near Indian Village. The camp was named after a famous San Diego humorist who wrote Phoenixiana (1855) and Squibob Papers (1865). Here soldiers were as much on display as the Indians. They also performed flag-raising and retreat ceremonies in the Plaza del Pacifico.80

Those who paid the fifty cents adult, twenty-five cents children general admission could take in musical events without extra charge. These included day and evening concerts at the organ amphitheater, in the Ford Building patio, and at the Ford Bowl. Concerts were also given in the auditorium of the House of Hospitality and in the Plaza del Pacifico. In addition, troubadours appeared here and there on the grounds.81

The San Diego Symphony gave its first concert at the Ford Bowl on opening day, May 29, under the direction of Nino Marcelli. Twelve weeks of symphonic and choral music followed given by the symphony orchestras of San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle and by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.82

A world’s first during the ’35 Expo was the introduction of the Hammond organ. On a platform in the middle of the seats in the Ford Bowl, this first electronic organ was played by Walter Flandorf, noted organist from Chicago. It was a simple two-manual keyboard, the C-3, which would be a Hammond standard for many years to come. A bank of speakers over the stage could amplify the music to 5000 watts, clearly audible in Mission Hills, three miles away.

Sam Hamill, junior partner in the firm of Requa, Hamill and Jackson, designed a California-Monterey style model home called Casa de Tempo which was put up near the entrance to Spanish Village.83 The home was won by Roberto Muller from Sinaloa, Mexico in a drawing at the close of the first season, and moved offsite.84 When it was built, the home had cost $35,000, with another $15,000 for furnishings. In 1973, it was estimated the home could be sold for more than $157,000.85

As a sign of events to come, the U.S. Army Air Corps conducted mock day and night attacks on the exposition grounds in June and in September. Officers and men of the Coast Artillery Corps on the grounds trained batteries of anti-aircraft guns on the raiding planes.86

On October 28, managers threw the gates open to 25,000 adults and children of San Diego relief families who could not afford the price of general admission.87

The first season closed at midnight on Armistice Day, November 11, with the playing of taps in the Plaza del Pacifico.88 About 4,784,811 people attended the fair in 1935, which was not quite the attendance of between 5,000,000 and 10,000,000 exposition staff had predicted in May.89 The Exposition Company had an approximate $400,000 surplus. If the exposition had ended in 1935, as had been planned, subscribers would have received a 60 percent refund.”90

In the interim between first and second seasons, the directors decided changes were in order. As Gold Gulch and the Midway were considered too ribald for families, both features were abandoned. San Diego architect Louis Bodmer, who had replaced Requa as architectural consultant, designed a modern-style Amusement Zone in the shape of an enclosed patio with a fountain centerpiece to replace the raucous Midway. At the north end of the amusement zone, a mining settlement, called “Days of ’49 Stockade,” continued some of the frontier attractions of the notorious Gold Gulch, but without the inimitable presence of Gold Gulch Gertie.91 The Mickey Mouse Circus, starring Singer’s Midgets, replaced Midget Village, and the John Hix “Strange As It May Seem” theater took the place of Ripley’s “Believe-It-Or-Not.”92

An Enchanted Land for children, filled with amusing and grotesque figures from Mother Goose and from fairy tales stood at the entrance to the Amusement Zone on the former site of Casa de Tempo.93 Indian Village, which had not generated the excitement of Indian Village in 1915-16, was turned back to the Boy Scouts. Pepper Grove was also released to public use.94

The City Council directed that seventy-five percent of the comfort stations be free;95 that exposition employees be residents of the city; that gambling games be forbidden; that a $75,000 fund be set aside for park improvements; and that the cost of police and fire protection be borne by the exposition.96 In December, gardeners removed most of the Blackwood acacias along Avenida de Palacios because they hid the buildings and other planting.97

In January 1936, local saints, including George W. Marston, pioneer merchant, Dr. Walter John Sherman, pastor of the First Methodist Church, and Mrs. Karl Thompson, president of the County Federation of Women’s Clubs, protested the nudist show, but Exposition President Belcher and City council members were not about to close down one of the exposition’s most popular attractions.98

The second season began February 12, 1936 in a torrent of rain. Opening ceremonies scheduled for the Plaza del Pacifico were transferred hastily inside the House of Hospitality. President Roosevelt pressed a gold telegraph key in the White House which turned the lights on at the exposition.99 Some exhibitors had left to take part in the Texas Centennial held at Dallas and others had taken their places. Names of some buildings had been changed. The Ford Building became the Palace of Transportation, the Palace of Electricity and Varied Industries became the Palace of General Exhibits, the Hollywood Hall of Fame became the Palace of Entertainment, the House of Charm became the Palace of International Arts, and the Palace of Photography became the Palace of Medical Science.100

Philip Gildred resigned March 17 as managing director and was succeeded by Wayne M. Dailard.101

A decline in attendance,102 the re-appearance of gambling in the Amusement Zone,103 the loss of revenue to the zoo caused by zoo patrons having to pay two admissions to get in,104 and the re-use of the buildings after the exposition,105 were problems encountered by the directors. To bolster attendance, directors offered free circuses, rodeos, vaudeville entertainments and ballets.106 The zoo was allowed to open a special entrance on Upas Street. Finding suitable uses or users of the buildings continues to be a problem.

The second season did not attract the celebrities so conspicuous during the first. Since Managing Director Dailard was a former executive of the Fox West Coast Theaters, he was primarily interested in booking entertainers. Among these fan and bubble dancer Sally Rand was the most popular.107 She performed two shows daily in the Palace of Entertainment and two in the evening in the Plaza del Pacifico from April 11 through April 26. Like “Sister” Aimee, Miss Rand refused to visit the nudists. She claimed her dance did not glorify burlesque or nudism but was an art form that suggested flight and idealized the human body.108 During one of her evening dances a prankster exposed Miss Rand’s “business suit” by breaking her concealing bubble.109 Newspaper reports do not tell us what Miss Rand was wearing, but since Chief of Police Sears allowed her to perform, it is certain she was wearing something.

Among other entertainers were bridge expert Ely Culbertson in April;110 actor Victor M’Laglen and his horse troop in May111 comedians Olsen and Johnson in June;112 and the Janet sisters, a dance team, in July.113

On May 19, the Civilian Conservation Corps dedicated a bronze-plaster statue of a heroic youth at their camp south of the Palace of Electricity.”114 The statue was a copy of a bronze statue that President Roosevelt had unveiled in Griffith Park, Los Angeles in the fall of 1935.115 A young lady standing before the statue was asked if she would like to have its symbolism explained to her. “No-o-o,” she replied, “but I’d like to meet the boy who posed for the statue.”116

The U.S. Army’s11th Cavalry stole the show, July 19, at an exhibition of stunt riding at the exposition athletic field.117 President Lazaro Cardenas of Mexico sent the Tipica Police Orchestra of Mexico City to give concerts in July.118 Concerts in the Ford Bowl, again sponsored by the Ford Motor Company, delighted music lovers. The San Diego Symphony performed from July 10 to August 10 under the baton of Nino Marcelli.119 They were followed by the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Alfred Hertz, from August 13 to August 23.120

A troupe of seventy-five ice skaters gave free ice-skating shows twice nightly, August 13 through August 25, at the organ amphitheater.121 To those who wanted to know where the ice came from, The San Diego Union answered, “Whatever it is that the skaters sate on, it is kept glass-smooth, out in the open, in a Southern California midsummer.”122

The second season closed on California Admission Day, September 9.123 A parade starting at the foot of Broadway at ten in the morning reached the reviewing stand in the Plaza del Pacifico at noon. In the afternoon, the story of California under four flags was presented at the organ amphitheater, with music supplied by the 30th Infantry Band. In the evening, at 11:30 p.m., a great book at the organ amphitheater, symbolizing the story of the exposition, started to close as Father Time looked on. Shortly before midnight, President Belcher, in the Plaza del Pacifico, said a few words. Then, as taps were sounded, the aurora borealis lights atop the organ were extinguished.124 At the stroke of midnight, the book at the amphitheater snapped closed.

During the exposition’s last hours, Albert V. Mayrhofer, president of the California Historical Association and Deputy Grand President of the Native Sons of the Golden West, gained headlines by declaring San Diego should hold expositions in Balboa Park in 1942 and in 1950.125

In reviewing the progress of the 1936 exposition, an editor of The San Diego Sun declared the second season’s “one outstanding achievement” was the attainment by the San Diego Symphony of high musical standards. Unlike the first season when the symphony played in a pathetically deserted Ford Bowl, during the second season the Bowl was filled with people at practically every performance.126

To those people who took the trouble to comment the most fascinating feature of the second exposition was the night lighting. Concealed banks of dimmer lights painted buildings, trees, gardens, pools and fountains in soft pastel hues.127 The Transportation Building, at the southern tip of the exposition, was a huge block of translucent blue topped by a rim of gold.128 A firefly effect in Palm Canyon and the Alcazar Garden, created by Otto K. Olsen, a Hollywood technician, presented a illusion of a fairyland in which Oberon, Titania and Puck were the proper inhabitants.129

Final accounting for the 1936 season showed an attendance of 2,004,000 and a treasury of $44,000. Subscribers received a five percent return on their investment.130 As most expositions lose money, the 1935-36 exposition must be considered a success in the sense in which the Battle of Pyrrhus is considered a victory. In lieu of putting the grounds back in order, the Exposition Company transferred $20,362 to the city and turned over portable property valued at more than $5,000.131 This payment was considerably smaller than the $75,000 Exposition Directors had promised the City in December, 1935.132 City Council members were not too upset over the exposition’s meager return as the Federal Work Projects Administration was expected to (and did) furnish over $90,000 for park restoration.133

Results of the 1935-36 exposition were not as dramatic as those of 1915-16. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps came to San Diego as an aftermath of the first exposition,134 but the movement of Consolidated Aircraft to the city in 1935 had no connection with the second.135

Exposition president Frank C. Belcher was fond of saying the exposition increased building permits, added new buildings, upped bank debits, advanced car loadings, expanded population, hiked automobile sales, promoted retail store sales, and enlarged employment in San Diego.136 A reader of The San Diego Sun responded that these claims reminded him of a preacher who not being able to say anything good about a ne’er-do-well at his funeral, described instead the wonderful events that had occurred during his life.137

In its two seasons, the exposition attracted 7,220,000 visitors as compared to the 46,769,227 who visited the Chicago exposition in 1933-34.138 During its construction the exposition employed as many as 2,700 persons and during its operation as many as 5,800. It gave San Diego widespread publicity. It offered visitors enjoyment, culture and hope. The exposition helped to instill confidence in people beset by economic difficulties. For those who were young at the time, the exposition was “the time of their lives.”

Differences of style between Bertram Goodhue’s, Carleton M. Winslow’s, and Frank P. Allen’s richly-decorated story-book buildings put up in the teens and Richard Requa’s bare mechanical buildings put up in the thirties are marked.139 One would not go to Balboa Park in the moonlight to see the drab Federal or Conference (former California State) buildings; but one would go to see the colorful open-space Plaza de America, the sparkling Firestone Singing Fountains, and the vibrant Standard Oil Tower, now no more.

El Prado and the Palisades do not function today in the expansive way they did during the earlier expositions. Nor do these two sections look as beautiful. They do, however, provide visitors with a stimulating place of relaxation, entertainment and culture.140

A dissent from the euphoria of people captivated by the memory of past or entranced by the vision of future expositions in Balboa Park is in order. Balboa Park is San Diego’s third largest public park. For many it is the only public park they visit regularly. Confronted with a proposal to use the Ford Building for commercial purposes, The San Diego Sun replied: “It seems highly questionable that any charge should be made for any exhibit in the park after the Exposition closes. . . . We must never lose sight of the fact that the park belongs to ALL of the people and that they should be encouraged to make the best possible use of it with a minimum of restrictions.”141

This caution against park exploitation, which the Harland Bartholomew Master Planners of Balboa Park repeated in 1960,142 should be held firmly in mind by politicians, planners and citizens who determine the park’s future.



1. Richard S. Requa, Inside Lights on the Buildings of San Diego’s Exposition – 1935(San Diego, 1937).

2. San Diego Union (hereafter SDU), 5-30-33, II, 1:2, 6:1; 8-13-33, 4:1.

3. Frank G. Belcher, “The California-Pacific International Exposition,” in History of San Diego County, Carl H. Heilbron, ed. (San Diego, 1936), p. 413; SDU, 10-05-34, 9:2-3.

4. Arnold L. Lehman, 1930’s Expositions (Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, 1972), pp. 2-4.

5. SDU, 8-07-34, 1:7, 2:4.

6. SDU, 1-19-35, 3:2-3; Requa, Inside Lights, pp. 43-44.

7. SDU, 6-23-35, 1:1, 2:2-3.

8. SDU, 10-05-34, 9:2-3.

9. Requa, Inside Lights, p. 39.

10. SDU, 8-07-34, 1:5-6.

11. SDU, 10-07-34, 4:6.

12. SDU, 1-06-35, II, 1:3; 4-07-35, 8:1.

13. Oscar W. Cotton, The Good Old Days (New York, 1962), p. 244.

14. SDU, 9-18-34, 7:5-6; 10-03-34, 10:1.

15. SDU 2-08-35, II, 2:7; 3-03-35, 1:1; 3-24-35, 1:1, 2:1.

16. Requa, Inside Lights, pp. 67-68; SDU, 4-07-35, 8:1.

17. Belcher, p. 414.

18. SDU, 3-03-35, II, 1:4.

19. SDU, 8-14-34, 2:6.

20. Marcus Whiffen, American Architecture Since 1870: A Guide to the Styles (Cambridge, Mass., 1981), p. 227.

21. SDU, 3-29-36, Expo Edition, II, 5:1-3.

22. SDU, 10-07-34, 4:6.

23. SDU, 9-16-34, 1:4.

24. SDU, 10-05-34, 9:2-3.

25. SDU, 11-11-34, II, 1:2, 3:2.

26. SDU, 2-11-35, 1:2, 2:5-6.

27. SDU, 5-27-35, 1:6-7, 2:3.

28. SDU, 12-02-34, II, 1:8, 3:1.

29. SDU, 12-23-34, II, 1:7-8, 2:1.

30. SDU, 4-07-35, 8:1.

31. Descriptive Guide Book of the California-Pacific International Exposition at San Diego, California, 1935 (American Autochrome Co., Chicago), p. 31.

32. SDU, 4-28-35, Expo Edition, I, 3:1-2; 11-06-35, 8:8.

33. SDU, 3-24-35, II, 1:2-3, 3:1-3.

34. SDU. 12-09-34, II, 1:1; 4-28-35, Expo Edition, I, 3:3-6.

35. Requa, Inside Lights, p. 56.

36. SDU, 5-30-35, 2:7-8; Edward Ranney, Stonework of the Maya (Albuquerque, 1974), plates 62-63.

37. Walter Dorwin Teague, Design This Day (New York, 1940); Richard W. Amero, “Waiting in Limbo, The History of the Ford Building in Balboa Park,” in The Mason Street Papers, Vol. III, 1979.

38. Lehman, p. 6.

39. SDU, 4-21-35, II, 2:2.

40. Richard S. Requa, Old World Inspiration for American Architecture (Frye and Smith, 1929), plates 99, 102, 123-126; Richard S. Requa, Architectural Details, Spain and the Mediterranean (Monolith Portland Cement Co., 1926), plates 122, 128-130; SDU, 3-29-36, Expo Edition, I, 1:1-7.

41. SDU, 3-31-35, II, 5:1; 3-29-36, Expo Edition, III, 1:2-3.

42. SDU, 3-25-35, 6:7.

43. SDU, 11-24-35, Building, 2:5.

44. SDU, 3-01-36, Building, 3:2-3.

45. Carleton M. Winslow, The Architecture and Gardens of the San Diego Exposition (San Diego, 1916), pp. 92-94.

46. SDU, 5-16-35, 1:1.

47. SDU, 7-14-35, 4:4.

48. Descriptive Guidebook1935.

49. SDU, 4-09-35, 9:5.

50. SDU, 4-17-35, 5:5.

51. SDU, 5-06-35, 1:7-8, 5:5; 9-29-35, World-Wide Features, 3:7-8, 3-29-36, Expo Edition, II, 12:1.

52. SDU, 3-03-35, 10:1-8; 4-28-35, 11:4-5.

53. San Erwine, “The 1935 Expo: Sally Rand and the midget men to the Rescue,” in San Diego Magazine, Vol. 17,June 1965, pp. 66-71.

54. SDU, 4-28-35, Expo Edition, I, 3:7-8; 9-08-35, 5:4-5.

55. 5DU, 3-03-35, 10:1-8; 12-13-35, 9:1.

56. Belcher, p. 415.

57. SDU, 7-09-35, 1:7-8, 3:5.

58. SDU, 7-16-35, 1:8.

59. SDU, 7-17-35, 1:6; 7-21-35, 1:6, 2:8.

60. SDU, 6-10-35, 1:4-5.

61. SDU, 6-18-35, 1:1-2.

62. SDU, 9-18-35, 3:1.

63. SDU, 7-19-35, 1:7, 2:4.

64. SDU, 9-28-35, 15, 5:2.

65. SDU, 7-21-35, 10:2-3.

66. SDU, 8-06-35, 1:5, 2:5.

67. SDU, 8-26-35, 1:2, 5:1.

68. SDU, 10-02-35, 1:8, 3:1.

69. SDU, 10-03-35, 1:8, 3:8.

70. SDU, 10-03-35, 2:1.

71. SDU. 11-17-35, 1:8, 6:1.

72. SDU, 7-22-35, 2:2-4.

73. SDU, 9-24-35, 1:1-2; 9-25-35, 9:1.

74. SDU, 10-31-35, II, 1:5.

75. SDU, 5-30-35, 5:1; 3-29-36, Expo Edition, II, 2:3-5.

76. SDU, 8-09-36, 6:2-3.

77. SDU, 6-14-35, 5:4.

78. SDU, 7-19-35, 5:6-7.

79. Erwine, p. 69.

80. SDU, 6-07-35, 1:5, 2:7; 6-23-35, II, 6:1; 6-25-35, 3:3, 4-18-36, 3:5; 4-19-36, 1:6, 11:3.

81. SDU, 6-13-35, 3:4.

82. SDU, 5-30-35, 6:3-4; Gertrude Gilbert, “Music in San Diego County,” in History of San Diego County, Heilbron, ed., p. 411.

83. SDU, 4-28-35, Expo Edition, III, 4:3-5; 5-12-35, 14:1.

84. SDU, 11-16-35, 5:5.

85. SDU, 4-01-73, F-l, F-6, F-8, F-9.

86. SDU, 6-20-35, 1:3, 3:4; 9-06-35, 1:6, 2:7; San Diego Sun, 8-30-35, 11:4.

87. SDU, 10-29-35, 5:4.

88. SDU, 11-12-35, 1:8, 2:5-6.

89. Richard Pourade, The Rising Tide (San Diego, 1967), p. 224.

90. Julius Wangenheim, “Autobiography,” in California Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. 36, March 1957, p. 161.

91. SDU, 11-15-35, 5:6-7; 1-26-36, 4:1; 3-29-36, Expo Edition, I, 1:1-7; 4-14-36, 5:1-2; San Dicgo Sun, 2-29-36, Expo Edition, no page numbers.

92. San  Diego Sun, 2-02-36, 8B:2-3.

93. San Diego Sun, 2-29-36, Expo Edition.

94. SDU. 12-04-35, 1:6, 2:2.

95. SDU, 12-11-35, 3:2-3.

96. SDU, 12-04-35, 1:6, 2:2; 12-05-35, 8:1.

97. SDU. 11-27-35, II, 1:5.

98. SDU, 1-23-36, II, 1:4; 1-29-36, 4:3-5; 2-06-36, II, 1:4; San Diego Sun. 2-05-36, 1:2, 2:5; 2-10-36, 5:7.

99.  SDU, 2-13-36, 1:7, 2:2-3.

100.1936 – Official Guide. Souvnir Program, California-Pacific International Exposition, San Diego (Dove and Robinson, Ltd.., San Diego).

101. SDU. 3-18-36, 1:7, 8:3; 3-19-36, 4:3.

102. Belcher, p. 417.

103. SDU, 2-17-36, 1:6, 3:7; 2-18-36, 1:7, 2:5; 2-22-36, 1:7-8, 2:2; 5-16-36, 1:2.

104. SDU, 11-16-35, 5:6.

105. SDU, 8-21-35, 5:2-3; 8-15-36, 1:6, 10-18-36, 1:1-2, 4:2-3.

106. Belcher, p. 417.

107. SDU, 4-06-36, 5:3.

108. SDU, 4-26-36, 15:1-2.

109. San Diego Sun, 9-30-36, 5:1-3.

110. SDU, 4-21-36, 1:3, 2:3.

111. SDU, 5-04-36, 10:1.

112. SDU, 6-14-36, 1:3, 2:1.

113. SDU, 7-03-36, II, 1:4.

114. SDU, 5-20-36, 1:6-7, 2:4.

115. SDU, 4-08-36, 5:1-3.

116. SDU, 4-26-36, 11:4.

117. SDU, 7-20-36, 8:1.

118. SDU, 7-27-36, II, 1:1.

119. SDU, 7-10-36, 4:1.

120. SDU, 8-14-36, 2:2.

121. SDU, 8-13-36, 6:1.

122. SDU, 8-16-36, 1:2.

123. SDU, 9-09-36, 1:1, 2:2-3.

124. SDU, 9-10-36, 1:8, 3:2-3.

125. San Diego Sun. 9-10-36, 1:6-7, 2:1.

126. San Diego Sun, 7-20-36, 10:1.

127. 1936 – Official Guide, p. 21.

128. SDU, 3-01-36, II, 1:8.

129. 5DU, 3-22-36, 6:1; 3-29-36, Expo Edition, III, 1:2-3; 9-12-36, 2:5.

130. Wangenheim, “Autobiography,” p. 162.

131. SDU, 12-17-36, 3:4-5.

132. SDU, 12-04-35, 1:6, 2:2; 12-05-35, 8:1.

133. San Diego Sun. 9-12-36, 1:1; 10-20-36, 2:5.

134. SDU, 8-05-34, 6:1.

135. SDU, 10-20-35, Aviation Special, 1:8.

136. San Diego Sun, 7-08-36, 1:5, 2:3.

137. San Diego Sun, 7-13-36, 10:4.

138. John Allwood, The Great Expositions (New York, 1978), pp. 183-184.

139. H.K. Raymenton, “San Diego’s Expositions,” in Historical Series on San Diego’s Early Days, Jointly Sponsored by KGB (Radio Station) and the Women’s Regional Planning Club, 1960-64 (California Room, San Diego Public Library).

140. Richard W. Amero, Balboa Park, fairy City or Country Park?, manuscript, January 1, 1984 (California Room, San Diego Public Library).

141. San Diego Sun. 8-30-36, 2B:1.

142. Harland Bartholomew and Associates, Master Plan for Balboa Park, May 17, 1960, pp. 15-16, pp. 32-34 (California Room, San Diego Public Library).

THE PHOTOGRAPHS are from the San Diego History Center’s Title Insurance and Trust Collection.