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The World's Fair and Exposition
Information and Reference Guide

1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition




  • 232 facts and trivia nuggets plus 68 links to external resources.

  • The World's Fair and Exposition Information and Reference Guide is now on CD.
    11,216 facts and 1,362 web links covering 24 World's Fairs and Expositions.
    Further information can be found here

  • To Convert Dollar Amounts to the Year 2003: divide the amount by .055



The following categories are on CD
High Resolution Images (14)
more Statistics (15) Livestock Area (11)
more Facts and Trivia (21) State Exhibits (20)
The Four Main Courts (41) Commemorative
Five Coin Set (60)
Foreign Exhibits (32) Fares, Prices, Admissions (45)
Festival Hall (11)  
Bonus: 1915 Timeline (31)






  • Title: Panama-Pacific International Exposition (aka The Jeweled City)

  • Theme: Celebration of the Building and Completion of the Panama Canal and the Discovery of the Pacific Ocean by Vasco Nuñez de Balboa.

  • Location: San Francisco, California.

  • Category: Universal Exhibition.

  • Exposition President: Charles C Moore.

  • Dates: February 20 - December 4, 1915.

  • Area: 635 acres (257 hectares).

  • Cost: $50,000,000 (the BIE states $25,865,914).

  • Revenue: ???.

  • Salvage Income: $900,000.

  • Profit: Yes ($2,000,000+).

  • Hours: 8:00 AM - 11:30 PM.

  • Daily Admission: 50¢ for adults, 25¢ for children (5-12).

  • Attendance: 19,000,000 (from the BIE).

  • Entrances (8): Baker Street, Ferry Station, Fillmore Street, Laguna Street, Lyon Street, Presidio, Scott Street, Van Ness Avenue.

  • Transportation: Electric Vehicles, Fadgl Auto Train, Overhead Railway, Wheel Chairs.

  • Exhibits: 100,000+.

  • Exhibit Value: over $10,000,000.

  • Exhibit Palaces: 220 acres.

  • Landscaping: $500,000.

  • Landscape Architect: John McLaren (designed Golden Gate Park).

  • Chief Architecture: George Kelham.

  • Building Construction: lumber, travertine (fiber and gypsum), steel (only 3 buildings used steel).

  • Building Colors: Old Ivory.

  • Accent Colors (8): antique green, burnt orange, cerulean blue, French green, gold, pink-orange, pinkish-red with brown, terra cotta.

  • Lumber: 70,000,000 feet (another source states 100,000,000 feet).

  • Chief of Sculpture: A Stirling Calder.

  • Sculptors: 42.

  • Sculptures: 1,500+.

  • Lighting: 900 magnetite arc lamps, 347 searchlights, 250 incandescent projectors for flags, 200 locomotive type projectors for statuary, 250 high pressure gas arc lamps and 30,000 incandescent bulbs.

  • Illumination: $500 a night.

  • Main Exhibit Palaces: 8.

  • Exhibit Palaces (11): Agriculture, Education and Social Economy, Fine Arts, Food Products, Horticulture, Liberal Arts, Machinery, Manufacturers, Mines and Metallurgy, Transportation, Varied Industries.

  • Main Courts (4): Court of Abundance, Court of Palms, Court of the Four Seasons, Court of the Universe.

  • Participating Nations (31): Argentine Republic, Australia, Austria, Bolivia, Belgium, Canada, China, Cuba, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Great Britain, Honduras, Holland, Italy, India, Japan, Luxemburg, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Persia, Portugal, Siam, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Uruguay.

  • Foreign Buildings: 22.

  • Participating States (30): Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Washington.

  • State Buildings: 20.

  • Participating US Territories (2): Philippines, Puerto Rico.

  • Ambulances: 2.

  • Fire Houses: 3.

  • Cost of Fire Protection: $500,000.

  • Official Publishers: Wahlgreen Company.

  • Official Photographers: Cardinell-Vincent Company.

  • Inside Inn: 610 rooms. $2.00 a day and up.

  • Annual Mean Temperature: 56 degrees.


Facts and Trivia



  • 1904 - The idea for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition was suggested by RB Hale.

  • April 18, 1906 - San Francisco Earthquake.

  • March 22, 1910 - the Panama-Pacific International Exposition Company is formed.

  • July, 1911 - San Francisco selected as the official location.

  • July 28, 1914 - WWI begins.

  • August 15, 1914 - The Panama Canal Opens. The SS Ancon becomes the first ship to sail from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

  • February 20, 1915 - It's Opening Day. Parade. Speeches. Prayers. President Woodrow Wilson starts the Diesel Generator in the Palace of Machinery to power the Exposition (he did this by wireless from Washington, DC). Crowd goes wild. Fun begins.

  • New Orleans was in competition with San Francisco to host the Exposition.

  • All buildings and structures were constructed of lumber and "travertine" except: the Tower of Jewels, Palace of Fine Arts and Palace of Horticulture which used steel.

  • More than 70,000 exhibits were displayed in the Major Palaces.

  • The Avenue of the Palms was a half mile long and lined with Canary Island Date Palms and California Fan Palms 18 to 25 feet high.

  • All the "Palaces" had "plateresque" main entrances.

  • The "scintillator" was the name for the 48 searchlights housed in the floating reproduction of the "Morro Castle". At night, the seven color searchlights would pierced through the fog. A steam locomotive provided artificial fog for nights that needed help.

  • Among the famous visitors: Al Jolson, Buffalo Bill Cody, Charlie Chaplin, DW Griffith, Eddie Rickenbacker, Fatty Arbuckle, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Henry Ford, John Philip Sousa, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Mabel Normand, Maria Montessori, President William Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison.

  • The only original trees on the Exposition grounds were in front of the California Building and at the southern end of Administration Avenue.

  • The US Government did not have an individual building at this Exposition, exhibits were spread amongst the Palaces totally 192,000 square feet or about 4 1/2 acres. Nine of ten Executive Departments were represented as well as seven government organizations.

  • September 3, 1915 was Out-Of-Debt-Day. Which means that the Exposition costs were recouped on this day, making it a financial success.

  • The 60 piece Marine Band gave daily concerts.

  • 822 conventions and congresses were held during the Exposition. Many in the newly constructed $1,200,000 San Francisco Civic Center.

  • Carnation Milk operated an Evaporated Milk Condensery producing milk in "hermetically sealed cans". 6,000 cans were filled daily.

  • Admiral Peary's Eskimo Dogs were on display in the "Dogs of All Nations" exhibit.

  • Several Forts guarding San Francisco Bay held target practice several times a week.

  • The Vanderbilt Cup and Grand Prix Race were held on the mile long Automobile Race Course. A Peugeot won both races ... using the same tires for both events.

  • The Fageol Motors Company in Oakland constructed the "Fadgl Auto Trains" which provided transportation on the grounds. Peterbilt eventually purchased Fageol Motors.

  • The ukulele was played for the first time in the United States.

  • The Ford Assembly Plant produced 18 cars a day, 6 days a week for a total of 4,400.

  • A young Ansel Adams regularly visited the Exposition.

  • "Fatty and Mabel at The Fair" was a promotional film starring Fatty Arbuckle and Mabel Normand.

  • A detailed list of exhibitors is recorded in the Official Catalog of Exhibits.

  • It was said that since the Great Earthquake, San Francisco has spent $375,000,000 on reconstruction. Which is close to the amount spent on The Panama Canal project.

  • The Organ was built by the Austin Organ Company of Hartford, Connecticut and cost $50,000. It had four-manuels, 7,500 pipes, 113 speaking stops, 117 ranks and included the swell, solo, choir and great organs.

  • Fireworks displays were held three nights a week.

  • Closing Day - "Taps" is played at the "Jewel Tower" as the lights are turned off.

  • The Inside Inn was torn down after the Exposition closed.


California State Building



  • Architect: Thomas HF Burditt.

  • Architecture: Spanish Mission.

  • Size: 350 feet by 675 feet.

  • Total Area: 7 acres.

  • Buildings and Exhibits: $2,000,000.

  • Motion Picture and Lecture Halls: 7.

  • Seating Capacity: 2,000 people.

  • The largest State or Foreign building ever erected for an Exposition.

  • All 58 California Counties were represented on 5 acres of floor space.

  • The Forbidden Garden was reconstructed in the courtyard.

  • A statue of Padre Junipero Serra was in the garden.

  • Noted Exhibits: beets, cereal, flora, fruits, olive oil, tobacco, vegetables, wine, a temple of soap with a soap bubble fountain, honey and beeswax furniture, mounted game birds and fish, a $35,000 gem display, an 87 foot long 100 ton stone bridge, and a $15,000 Bungalow restroom.


Palace of Agriculture


  • Building Area: 7 acres.

  • Total Area: 40 acres.

  • Cost: $420,000.

  • Argentina occupied 9,000 square feet of floor space.

  • Participating Nations: Argentine Republic, Australia, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, New Zealand, Philippines, Siam, Sweden, Uruguay.

  • Exhibits: agricultural implements, farm equipment, food products, machinery.


Palace of Education and Social Economy



  • Architecture: Byzantine, Moorish, Roman, Spanish Renaissance.

  • Sculptors: Albert Weinhert, Cesare Stea, Charles Peters, Gustave Gerlach, Ralph Stackpole.

  • Area: under 5 acres.

  • Cost: $304,263.

  • Many educational displays used "film" in it's presentations. The first demonstration of wide spread use of film for educational purposes.

  • Displays were so numerous that room had to be found in other buildings.

  • Exhibits covered: child welfare, boy scouts, camp fire girls, charities, corrections, criminology, domestic science, hygiene, missionary work, parks, peace institutions, public education, sewage, streets, urban problems.

  • Among the Participating Nations: Argentina, China, Cuba, France, Japan.


Palace of Fine Arts



  • Architect: Bernard R Maybeck, San Francisco.

  • Architecture: Roman.

  • Sculptors: Bruno Louis Zimm, Herbert Adams, Leo Lentelli, Ralph Stackpole, Ulric H Ellerhusen.

  • Mural Painter: Robert Reid.

  • Entrances: 4.

  • Rotunda: 165 feet high.

  • The building was 1,100 feet long and in the shape of a "half-moon" or "arch".

  • The Domed Rotunda was located outside the main building, inside the "arch" and surrounded by a man-made lake.

  • On the underbelly of the "arch", and opposite the Rotunda, was the main entrance.

  • The Colonnade ran along both sides of the Rotunda, between the lake and the main building.

  • Among the flora in The Colonnade: Eucalyptus, Evergreens, Monterey Cypress, Weeping Willows and ... 500 Yellow Calla Bulbs, 1000 White Lilies, 5000 Violets and 10000 Periwinkles.

  • Awards were only given to works produced since 1904. Works made prior to 1904 were not eligible.

  • All officially participating nations represented by a Commission could exhibit.

  • Nations not officially recognized could exhibit small displays in the "International" section of the building.

  • A small building was constructed at the rear of their main building for exhibits received after opening day.

  • Many works were for sale, with delivery after the close of the Exposition.

  • Noted Exhibits by: Alson Clark, Arthur Matthews, Childe Hassam, Edmund Tarbell, Edward Redfield, Francis McComas, Frank Duveneck, Gari Melchers, Howard Pyle, John Hamilton, John Singer Sargent, John Twachtmann, Joseph Pennell, William Chase, William Keith, Whistler.

  • The Official Catalog of Fine Arts Exhibits contains a listing of displays.

  • Among the Participating Nations: Argentina, Austria, China, Cuba, France, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Sweden, Uruguay.

  • The Palace of Fine Arts is now the Exploratorium and is the only major structure standing on its original location.


Palace of Food Products


  • Area: 5 1/2 acres.

  • Sculptors: Allen Newman, Charles R Harley, Earl Cummings, Ralph Stackpole.

  • A small chewing gum manufacturing plant was in operation producing chewing gum. It was the first time an exhibit of this nature was displayed at an International Exposition.

  • Ten foreign nations contributed exhibits including: Argentina, Cuba, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, and Portugal.

  • Exhibits: baked goods, cereal, coffee, confections, food preparation, flour, tea.


Palace of Horticulture



  • Location: West of the South Gardens.

  • Architect: Bakewell & Brown, San Francisco.

  • Architecture: French Renaissance, Byzantine.

  • Area: 5 acres.

  • Size: 672 feet long, 320 feet wide (at it's widest).

  • Cost: $400,000.

  • Nave: 80 feet high.

  • Glass Dome: 182 feet high, 152 feet in diameter (another source indicates 160 feet high).

  • Basket on top of the Dome: 100 feet in diameter.

  • Exhibits: arboriculture, cannery, floriculture, flowers, fruit trees, general Pomology, processing equipment, seed-packing, spraying devices, tropical plants.


Palace of Liberal Arts


  • Size: 585 feet long, 470 feet wide, 65 feet high.

  • Floor Space: 6 acres.

  • Mahonri Young designed the frieze above the main entrance.

  • The US Government occupied 66,000 square feet.

  • The Underwood Exhibit featured a 14 ton typewriter that kept a running tally of the number of visitors. It was 1,728 times larger than an ordinary typewriter.

  • Participating Nations: Argentina, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Uruguay.

  • Exhibits: architecture, book binding, calculating machines, chemicals, cosmography, electrical instruments, fire apparatus, maps, medical equipment, military engineering, musical instruments, optics, pharmaceuticals, philosophical apparatus, photography, radio, safety devices, surgical instruments, surveying tools, talking machines, telescopes, typography, x-ray machines, wireless telephones.


Palace of Machinery



  • Constructed: January 7, 1913 - March 10, 1914.

  • Architect: Clarence War.

  • Architecture: Roman.

  • Sculptor: Haig Patigian, California.

  • Size: 368 feet wide, 968 feet long, 135 feet high.

  • Area: 9 acres.

  • Exhibits: 2,000+.

  • Aisles: 2 miles.

  • Cost: $659,665.

  • Steel Bolts and Fasteners: 1500 tons.

  • Lumber: 8,000,000 feet.

  • Nails: 4 carloads.

  • Cornices: 1½ miles.

  • "The Utility Gas Kitchen" exhibit (outside the main entrance) used gasoline for cooking.

  • Was the Largest Wooden Building in the World (at the time) and at the Exposition.

  • Lincoln Beachey made the only indoor aeroplane flight ever recorded during construction of the building. He reached a speed of 40 mph.

  • Beachy was later killed during one of the air exhibitions.

  • Topping the columns of the main entrance, north entrance and south entrance were figures representing the "Powers". "Electric Power", "Steam Power", "The Power of Invention" and "The Power of Imagination".

  • The US Government Exhibits featured displays from: Bureau for Inspection of Vessels, Coast Guard, Light House Service, Navy Department, Office of Public Roads, War Department.


Palace of Manufacturers and Varied Industries


  • Divisions (2): Clothing and Textiles. Heating, Hardware, Lighting, Wood and Metal Merchandise.

  • The doorway was a reproduction of the entranceway to the Hospital of Santa Cruz in Toledo, Spain. Cost: $15,000.

  • The sculpture entitled "Miner" adorned the east entrance and was designed by Albert Weinhart.

  • The Frieze above the main entrance was entitled "The Useful Arts" by Mahonri Young.

  • Argentina occupied 6,000 square feet of floor space.

  • Foreign Exhibitors: France, Italy, Great Britain, Japan.


Palace of Mines and Metallurgy


  • Area: 6 acres.

  • Cost: $350,000.

  • Argentina occupied 6,000 square feet of floor space.

  • Was home to the Exposition Post Office.

  • An actual working mining operation was in production. Demonstrations of mining safety were conducted daily.

  • Exhibits: cement, education, natural mineral resources, manufacturing, metals of commerce, metallurgy, mining methodology, petroleum, raw materials, ores, precious metals, semi-precious stones.


Palace of Transportation


  • Area: 7 acres.

  • Cost: $500,000.

  • Exhibits: aeroplanes, automobiles, steam and electric power, locomotives, motor boats, street cars.

  • Noted Exhibits: a four thousand horsepower locomotive, a working automobile assembly plant, Lincoln Beachey's biplane, Robert Fowler's plane.


Tower of The Jewels


  • Architect: Carrere and Hastings, New York.

  • Construction Cost: $413,000.

  • Demolition Cost: $9,000.

  • Height: 435 feet.

  • Base: 125 feet square.

  • Arch: 60 feet wide, 120 feet high.

  • Columns: 4.

  • Construction: 1,400 tons of steel - 1,000,000 feet of lumber.

  • Statues in Front (2): "Cortez" by Charles Niehaus and "Pizzaro" by CC Rumsey.

  • It was called The Tower of Jewels because of the tens of thousands of "novagems" that decorated it.

  • On hot days the tower actually grew 4 inches.

  • The Tower had elevators, but only to be used in case of fire.

  • The platform at the top was used by security guards as a lookout.

  • The figures on top of the columns were called: Adventurer, Philosopher, Priest and Soldier.

  • The paintings under the arch were by William De Leftwich Dodge.

  • Each painting was divided into three panels.

  • The two larger panels were entitled "The Atlantic and Pacific" and "The Gateway of all Nations".

  • Each group of paintings (or murals) was 96 feet long.

  • A series of tablets on the base of the Tower were inscribed with historical events connected with the Panama Canal and the Exposition.



  • Quantity: 120,000 (from the official guidebook but a lot of sources state 102,000).

  • Size: 21mm - 47mm (about the size of a quarter).

  • Designer: William D’Arcy Ryan.

  • Colors: various (amber, red, green, clear).

  • Average Cost: $1.00 each.

  • The novagems were made of glass and produced in Belgium.

  • The multifaceted stones were cut for maximum brilliance.

  • The large sphere atop the Tower was 20 feet in diameter.

  • Thousands were given away to prominent visitors and sold as souvenirs.

  • 1,000 novagems hung from the diadems of the 95 Star Maidens.

  • William D’Arcy Ryan purchased the novagems for 12 - 15 cents a piece after the Exposition.

  • PPIE Found Remnants - Novagems.

  • The Novagems - America Hurrah.


The Zone



  • Area: 70 acres.

  • Size: 7 city blocks.

  • Main Street: 3,000 feet long.

  • Cost: $10,000,000+.

  • Concessions: over 200.

  • Hours: 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM.

  • In one day you could visit "The Panama Canal", "Grand Canyon" and "Yellowstone Park".

  • The Panama Canal concession covered more than 5 acres and contained a large working topographical map of the Isthmus that covered 5000 miles. Visitors rode around the map on a moving platform.

  • The 14 foot nude painting of the "magnificently proportioned" "Stella", cost $50,000.

  • Almost 4,500 alligators and crocodiles were needed for "Alligator Joe's" Farm and Circus.

  • "Captain" could do arithmetic and play musical instruments.

  • The "Grand Canyon" exhibit cost approximately $250,000.

  • "Toyland Grown-up" was for adults. The concession covered 14 acres and was created by Frederick Thompson.

  • The "Aeroscope" rose to a height of 265 feet. On a clear day you could see for a radius of 200 miles. It could could hold 500 people and was designed and constructed by Joseph Strauss (builder of the Golden Gate Bridge).

  • The Zone was not as profitable as expected.

  • Harry and Jenny Cohen were midget dancing team.

  • The Overfair Railway is now part of the Railroad Museum.


Links, Resources, Sources



1906 San Francisco Earthquake


eBooks Online - Gutenberg


Resources, Sources - Books


  • Art-Lovers Guide to the Exposition
     by Sheldon Cheney.

  • Catalogue Deluxe of the Fine Arts, Panama-Pacific International Exposition (2 volumes)
     by Paul Elder.

  • In the Court of the Ages (Poems)
     by Edward Robeson Taylor.

  • Japan and her Exhibits at the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition
     by Kyokwai Hakurankwai.

  • Official Guide of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition
     by Wahlgreen Publishing. 1915.

  • Palace of Fine Arts and Lagoon: Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915
     by Bernard R. Maybeck.

  • Palaces and Courts of the Exposition
     by Juliet Helena Lumbard James.

  • Panama-Pacific International Exposition Illustrated in Color
      by Robert A Reid. 1915.

  • The Architecture and Landscape Gardening of the Exposition
     by Louis Christian Mullgardt & Maud Worting Raymond.

  • San Francisco Invites the World
     by Donna Ewald and Peter Clute. Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 1991.

  • San Francisco's Enchanted Palace
      by Ruth Newhall. Howell-North Books, Berkeley CA, 1967.

  • Sculpture of the Exposition Palaces and Courts
     by Juliet James.

  • That Was a Dream Worth Building: The Spirit of San Francisco's Great Fair Portrayed in Picture and Words by Louis Stellmann.

  • The Art of the Exposition by Eugen Neuhaus.

  • The Blue Book: The Official Souvenir and View Book of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition by Robert A Reid.

  • The City of Domes
     by John D. Barry.

  • The Exposition Babies: An Idyl of the Fine Arts Colonnade
     by Edith Kinney Stellmann & Louis J. Stellman.

  • The Galleries of the Exposition
     by Eugen Neuhaus.

  • The Jewel City
     by Ben Macomber. 1915.

  • The Sculpture and Mural Decorations of the Exposition
     by A. Stirling Calder & Stella GS Perry.

  • The Sculpture and Murals of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition
     by Stella GS Perry.

  • The Story of the Exposition
     by Frank Morton Todd. 5 volume set. GP Putnam, New York 1921 .



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