The Journal of San Diego History
Summer 1995, Volume 41, Number 3
Richard W. Crawford, Editor



The 1915 Panama-California Exposition proved to be so successful it was held over a second year. The fair generated widespread publicity for the city. When the exposition ended on December 31, 1916, San Diegans were justifiably proud of the fair’s success, but had mixed feelings about the future direction for the city. Now labeled, “The City Beautiful,” some townspeople felt strongly that San Diego should adopt a growth plan that would preserve the area’s scenic beauty and develop its potential as a resort community. Others still believed San Diego’s future lay in the development of the port and envisioned the city as a commercial and industrial center for the entire southwestern United States. In the 1917 mayoral election this controversy over differing visions of the city’s future came to be known as the “Smokestacks vs. Geraniums” debate. Louis Wilde (Smokestacks) defeated George Marston (Geraniums), but the debate over these two visions for San Diego continued and still characterizes growth issues today.