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The Worlds Fair and Exposition
Information and Reference Guide

1935-36 California Pacific International Exposition




  • 161 facts and trivia nuggets plus links to 12 more 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 .074

  • Pictures will be posted in the future.



The following categories are on CD
more Facts and Trivia (22)  
After The Exposition (21) Balboa Park (11)
Ford Complex (19) Hospitality House (9)
1915 Buildings used for 1935-36 (8) Commemorative Half Dollar (24)
Bonus: Timeline 1935 (33)





  • Dates: May 29 - November 11, 1935 and February 12 - September 9, 1936. (377 days)

  • Location: Balboa Park, San Diego.

  • Area: Balboa Park: 1400 acres.

  • Exposition Area: 300 acres

  • Theme: No official theme.

  • Symbol: No official symbol.

  • Cost: $20,000,000.

  • Daily Admission: 50¢ for adults (12 and up), 25¢ for children (2-11).

  • Attraction Admission Fees: various.

  • Hours: 10:00AM - 10:00 PM. Fun Zone: 10:00 AM - 2:00 AM.

  • Attendance 1935: 4,784,411.

  • Opening Day Attendance 1935: 45,000

  • Predicted Attendance 1935: 10,000,000.

  • Attendance 1936: 2,004,000.

  • Total Attendance 1936-37: 6,788,411 (Another source reports: 7,220,000).

  • Ford Exhibit Attendance: 2,722,765.

  • Population 1930: San Diego 147,995   California: 5,677,251   US: 123,202,624.

  • Special Admission Days: 5¢ children (aka Nickel Days).

  • Record Crowd: 83,238.

  • Mascot: None.

  • Official Guide Book: 84 pages, 8 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches, 25¢.

  • Parking Areas: 3100 and 1400 cars.

  • Parking Fees: 25¢, 35¢, 50¢.

  • Accommodations: 200 hotels, 350 apartment buildings, 300 tent cottages, numerous campgrounds, the moored Steamship Los Angeles and parked Pullman cars

  • Employment: 2,700 workers in 3 eight-hour shifts.

  • Transportation: Automobile, Bus, Rail, Street Car.

  • Participating Nations, 21: Argentina, British Empire, Chile, China, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Germany, Honduras, Irish Free State, Italy, Japan, Nicaragua, Norway, 
    Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Sweden, Uruguay, Yugoslavia. (I only found 19).

  • Type of Exposition: Not Sanctioned. (BIE sanctioning began in 1929)

  • Total Monetary affect on the Area: $37,700.000.

  • Total Park Improvements: $6,000,000.

  • Revenue 1935: $390,833.

  • Losses 1936: $346,833.

  • Revenue 1935-36: $44,000.

  • President PPIE: Frank G Belcher

  • The Panama-California Exposition was held in Balboa Park in 1915.

  • The main reason for the Exposition was to promote San Diego.

  • San Diego is the second largest city in California.


Facts and Trivia


  • Constructed in 10 months.

  • Formal dedication was at 8:00 PM. Two orphan girls pressed a button to turn on the lights.

  • President Franklin D Roosevelt telephoned his greeting from Washington, DC.

  • G Aubrey Davidson was Chairman of the Board. He was President of the 1915 Exposition.

  • Almost half of the Executive employees were form out of state.

  • More than half the workers were relief workers paid by the Federal Government.

  • It was estimated to take 5 days to see everything at the Pan-Pacific Exposition.

  • Four large restaurants provided eats: Cafe of the World, Palisades Cafe, Spanish Kitchens and the Pioneer Days Restaurant.

  • The Federal Building, Transportation and Water Building and the Standard Oil Tower were prime examples of Mayan and Aztec architecture.

  • Building decorations and ornamentation was accomplished using plants.

  • The landscape featured such diverse foliage as: Bunya-Bunya trees, Egyptian Papyrus, Cocos Plumosa and Phoenix Reclinata Palms, Begonias, Yellow Day Lilies, Pergolas,
    El Rey Geraniums, Citrus Trees, Pansies, Dahlias, Chrysanthemums, Pink Hybiscus, Eugenias, Carnegiea and Opuntias Cacti, Pine Trees, Japanese Cedar, Petunias and Roses.

  • At night, the buildings and structures were painted with light as opposed to being flooded with light.

  • Five Symphony orchestras gave concerts during the exposition.

  • The US Naval fleet appeared twice with over 130 ships and 55,000 men in review. June 10-30 and August 19 - September 1. On June 10th, 375 naval planes circled the Exposition grounds twice during a "pass in review".

  • John Sirigo was the Official Photographer. He also designed the set of 25 poster stamps.

  • The first Fleet Week was celebrated in San Diego during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. Fleet Week in San Diego.

  • Sally Rand was pelted with pebbles at the Exposition. She suffered bruises under her left eye and on her left thigh as she danced on stage. She left bleeding but later returned to complete her act. She also extremely short hair, she wore a blonde wig during her act.

  • The Palace of Natural History featured: a Hydrographic relief map, a 40 foot prehistoric skeleton of a Duck-billed dinosaur, an 8 foot Portheis fish, a 60,000 volume reference library and 397,000 species of animals.

  • Fisher Flour Mills "scone" exhibit, was also at the 1915 PPIE. The scones were split down the side and filled with raspberry jam and butter. And cost 5¢ each.

  • The Palace of Food and Beverages had exhibits from: Beechnut Packing, Challenge Butter, Coca-Cola, Eastside Brewery, Fisher Flour Mills, Fletcher's Candy, Junket Folks, Kraft Cheese, National Biscuit Company and Standard Brands.

  • The patio of the House of Hospitality had a white Aztec fountain carved from a 1600 pound block of limestone.

  • The Palace of Fine Arts featured works from: Ammi Farnham, Charles Fries, William Keith, Thomas Hill, Albert Beirstadt, Lorser Feitelson, Raymond Jonson, Alexander Archipenko, Peter Rubens, Lucas Cranach, Francisco de Zurbaran, Bartolome Esteban Murillo, Maxfield Parrish, Howard Pyle and Virginia Sterrett.

  • The House of Charm contained exhibits of interest to debutantes, homemakers, mothers, teachers and women in general. The displays covered topics ranging from clothing to home economics.

  • The Eastman Kodak history of photography display featured: foolproof Kodachrome color movie film, the first pinhole Kodak camera from 1883 and a strip of the first movie film developed by Kodak and Thomas Edison.

  • Alpha the Robot was in the Palace of Science. The 6 foot 2 inch high, 2000 pound chrome plated steel armor robot was invented by Professor Harry May. He could roll his eyes, shake his head, move his mouth, sit, stand, smoke cigarettes, answer questions and fire a revolver. He was controlled through "electronically-transmitted vocal vibrations".

  • The Mexican Exhibit covered 4000 square feet and displayed over $1,000,000 of irreplaceable artifacts from excavated ruined temples. Including the famous Monte Alban jewels.

  • The largest outdoor pipe organ ever built (at that time) gave daily concerts in the Organ Amphitheatre. It contained cymbals, drums, cathedral chimes and harp.

  • 21 Foreign nations had consular officials in the House of Pacific Relations. Each nation had a two day program with nationwide broadcasts.

  • Hollywood Motion Picture Hall of Fame featured: a motion picture sound stage, two giant cows from the Eddie Cantor movie, "Kid Millions", Mary Pickford's stage curls, and shoes from Shirley Temple and Charlie Chaplin.

  • Alcazar Gardens was a reproduction of the gardens in the Imperial residence of Charles V. The Alcazar, Seville.

  • The Shell Gasoline Information building was in the shape of their giant sea shell logo and featured an enormous electric road map. Outside the entrance was a rare Erythrina Crista-Galli Plant, the colored bracts gave it the name of Coral Tree.

  • This was not considered a world's fair because foreign countries did not officially participate.

  • Since Foreign nations did not officially participate, the House of Pacific Relations was established. The 15 cottages were reproductions of Spanish and Mexican haciendas.

  • The House of Pacific Relations complex was retained as a permanent park attraction.

  • The "Pacific" in House of Pacific Relations meant peaceful.

  • 156 loudspeakers inundated the Exposition grounds with music.

  • The Old Globe Theatre was replica of Shakespeare's Globe Playhouse. The roofless and temporary structure had seating for 600 people and hosted 45-minute versions of 19 Shakespeare plays. Six performances daily. The Old Globe Theatre players also 
    performed at the 1933 Chicago Worlds Fair.

  • Old Globe Theatre Admission: Adults, 25¢ in the afternoon and 40¢ in the evening. It was a copy of the one at the Century of Progress.

  • After the Exposition, the Globe Theatre, Ye Olde Gift Shoppe and Falstaff Tavern were to be torn down. Private citizens raised the $10,000 necessary to bring the buildings up to code and make them permanent. The San Diego Community Theater corporation was chartered in February 1937 and continues operations to this day.

  • This was one of six World's Fairs or Expositions held in the United States during the 1930s.

  • While most Worlds Fairs in the 1930s used Art Deco styling in their buildings and structures, the San Diego Exposition used a Spanish Mission-Colonial Revival style of architecture.

  • The Spreckels organ had enough power to be heard a mile away without the benefit of electronic amplification.

  • Casa de Tempo was a modern home designed by Sam Hamill. It had 12 rooms, 5 bathes and every modern convenience available at the time. The $50,000 house and furnishings were won in a drawing at the end of the first season. The home was then given to the Ex-president of Mexico, Plutarco Elías Calles, and moved to 1212 Upas Street. He lived in it for 5 years.

  • Standard Oil Tower of the Sun was 108 feet tall. The tower was divided into quadrants, two circular ones in front and two square ones in the back. Glass panels in the middle of each quadrant spelled Standard Oil. Inside were Dioramas and murals.

  • New Sea Island Sugar Company sold lemonade at 10 cents a glass.

  • The Palace of Better Housing covered 36,200 square feet.

  • The California State Building cost $90,000. It was the only state building.

  • A diorama of a raging forest fire was the most popular exhibit in the California Building.

  • Another display contained fifty-six miniature model homes in varying styles and floor plan. Prices ranged from $300 to $7,000.

  • Around Fifty nudists were part of The Nudist Colony, which was located in Zorro Garden. Queen Zorine was the leader. The woman actually wore bras and g-strings and the men were "past their prime", had long beards and wore trunks.

  • People found knot holes in the wooden fence between Gold Gultch and the Nudist Colony.

  • Almost every building in the Palisades, contained something relating to Boulder Dam. One concessionaire even built a model in the amusement section.

  • The Federal Building had displays from the: Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Justice, Marine Corps, Navy, Patent Office, Printing Office, Library of Congress, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, Smithsonian Institution, Tennessee Valley Authority and the Veterans' Administration.

  • Among the Federal Building exhibits: a continually updating counter showing the estimated population of the United States, a model of the first electric light patented by Thomas Edison (1879), a seventeen-pound machine gun and a $1,000,000 Bill.

  • The Indian Village had approximately 150 Indians from 30 Tribes. They made handcrafted items, performed the "Sun Dance" and "Snake Dance", participated in stagecoach robberies and covered wagon attacks. During the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition,
    Indians were portrayed with culture in mind. This time they were little more than circus performers
    . And as a result, attendance was poor and they did not return for another year.

  • Special "Nickel Days" for children were held throughout the Exposition to attract visitors.

  • June 9th, Mae West was pushed by a college student in a roller chair down El Prado and into Gold Gulch were she watched Eleanor Stubitz perform. She was a Lilliputian known as the miniature Mae West.

  • June 18th, former President Herbert Hoover visited.

  • June 19th, 80 naval planes "bombed" an enemy camp in a simulated air attack. Later in the evening another 55 planes came in to finish the job.

  • 165 men of the 30th Infantry set up camp in "Camp George Derby", south of Indian Village.

  • July 27th, Le Roy Haines died in Gold Gulch. The 46 year old stunt man leaped from a 90 foot tower into a flaming pool. He died an hour later.

  • August 5th, Jack Dempsey refereed a midget boxing match.

  • August 17th, nearly 8,000 Japanese-Americans celebrated the birth of Buddha at the Organ Amphitheatre.

  • August 24th, over 20,000 African-Americans visited. It was National Negro Day.

  • September 4th events were to honor composer Charles Wakefield Cadman's music and songs.

  • On September 5th, 416 planes, 90 combat vehicles and the Coast Artillery attack the Exposition for 3 days.

  • September 17th was Constitution Day. Former Herbert Hoover returned to give a speech at the Organ Amphitheater.

  • September 21st, three original "Our Gang" members visited the Organ Amphitheater, including Buckwheat.

  • September 27th, Aimee Semple McPherson gave three days of sermons at the Organ Amphitheater.

  • October 2nd, President Franklin D Roosevelt and Eleanor visited the Exposition. And later presented a speech before 75,000 people in San Diego Stadium.

  • October 30th was John D Spreckels day. He played the organ in Balboa Park from 1915 - 1932.

  • November 11th, 1935, the Exposition closes at midnight (Armistice Day). Corporal Joe Galli of the 30th Infantry played taps on the roof of the Palace of Fine Arts before 76,033 people. The 30th Infantry men wore steel helmets and carried bayonets as a show force to prevent looting and destruction, which accompanied the close of the 1933 Chicago Fair.


1936 Exposition


  • February 12 - September 9, 1936.

  • Attendance 1936: 2,004,000.

  • Wayne Dailard, manager of the 1936 Exposition, claimed expositions had become obsolete (San Diego Union, August 28, 1955).

  • Gold Gulch and the Midway did not return for 1936. These popular attractions were considered too risqué for the family type atmosphere to be portrayed during the 1936 season. But, the Nudist Colony remained.

  • Amusement Zone replaces the Midway.

  • Days of '49 Stockade replaces Gold Gulch.

  • Midget Village became the Mickey Mouse Circus.

  • A tamer "Strange as It Seems" replaces "Ripley's Believe-It-Or-Not".

  • Other new attractions: Temple of Mystery, Danse Follies, Hollywood Secrets, Merry-go-rounds, slides, a loop-the-loop plane.

  • Enchanted Land for children, replaces Casa de Tempo.

  • The Boy Scouts replaced the Indian Village.

  • The Blackwood acacias along Avenida de Palacios were removed.

  • 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 Palace of Charm became the Palace of International Arts.

  • The Palace of Photography became the Palace of Medical Science.

  • The 30th Infantry from San Francisco returned for another year.

  • The City Council dictated that: Exposition employees be residents of the City, gambling is forbidden, 75 percent of the comfort stations be free, $75,000 fund be set aside for park improvements, the Exposition pays the cost of police and fire protection, and runs the parking concession.

  • Opens February 12th in a rain storm before approximately 25,000 people. Ceremonies are transferred from the Plaza del Pacifico to the House of Hospitality.

  • President Roosevelt pressed a telegraph key from the White House, and turned on the lights to Officially open the Exposition.

  • General Exhibits Building contained: a wax replica of the Last Supper, a model of the Milan Cathedral made of 100,000 tiny pieces of wood, a sword worn by General US Grant in the Civil War.

  • The Ford Company and other exhibitors had left to take part in the Texas Centennial held in Dallas.

  • Alice Klauber designed the Flamingo Room in the House of Hospitality. She also designed the Persimmon Room for the 1915 Exposition.

  • The Palace of Transportation displayed the Central Pacific Huntington train engine.

  • February 29, 1936 was a Leap Day. And to celebrate the directors held a Bachelor Ball in the Palace of Entertainment. A marine attached to the USS Lexington was chosen as bachelor king for the evening.

  • To increase attendance, Sally Rand was signed to performed two shows daily in the Palace of Entertainment. Sally later opened a nude show for the 1936 Frontier Exposition in Fort Worth and the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition.

  • The Globe Theater Players left for the Texas Centennial. The Fortune Players from Chicago took their place.

  • Midnight on September 9th, the Exposition closed before a crowd of 60,000.

  • The Palace of Electricity becomes the Gymnasium.

  • The California State Building became the Automotive Museum.


The Midway


  • The Midway was 1200 feet long and 350 feet wide with a 40-foot pavement down the center. For a total of 2400 feet of frontage.

  • Lew Dufour and Joe Rogers produced the shows, "Crime Does Not Pay", "Two-Headed Baby", "Life", and the "Snake Farm". They also produced shows for the 1933 Chicago World's Fair and the 1935 Brussels Exposition.

  • Stanley R. Graham and Nate Eagle produced the shows "Midget City", "Midget Farm" and the "Miss America" show. They also produced shows for the 1933 Chicago World's Fair.

  • Midget City had over 100 "Lilliputians" ranging from 18 to 60 years old, many weighing less than 20 pounds. And some as small as 18 inches.

  • Midget Farm had midget cows, chickens, hogs, horses, corn and grain. And in one barn was the parade wagons and buggies once owned by Tom Thumb.

  • The Midget City News was the world's smallest newspaper. It was published in a midget printing shop each day and presented features from the midget viewpoint.

  • The Worlds Most Beautiful Midget Lady, Stella Royal.

  • Smallest Woman in the World, Trinidad Rodriquez.

  • Sixteen Hollywood studio workers produce animated cartoons and other short subjects on the Exposition grounds. Visitors could watch the complete production and see the finished product in a movie theater.

  • Golden Gulch was a typical California '49er gold mining camp and was located near the San Diego Police Department horse stables.

  • 10 Venetian Glass Blowers demonstrated their unique methods of blowing glass.

  • The famous Gay's Lion Farm of El Monte, California.

  • "Toyland" had ponies from the circus stables of Harry Wooding.

  • Ripley's "Believe It-Or-Not" displayed: a man immune to fire, a four-legged girl and a girl without arms and legs. The manager of the exhibit was fined $150 for being in violation of a California law pertaining to the exhibition of deformed people.

  • The Ford building was described as a giant washing machine.

  • The Crime Never Pays exhibit displayed John Dillinger's armed and bullet-proof car.

  • Rossika the Horse walked a tightrope in "Days of Saladin" exhibit.

  • Vance Smith was promoted as the Smallest Man in the World.

  • Eleanor Stubitz was billed as a miniature Mae West.

  • The Midway also had a 155 foot parachute drop.

  • Midget Village was the top concession with 375,000 visitors.


For More Information - Links



For More Information - Books


  • Balboa Park Expositions, 1915-1936. The Magic City: A Book of Days. San Diego Historical Society, 1982.

  • Pray-Palmer, Lillian. A Book of Memories for the Ages; A Pictorial Aftermath issued by the Balboa Park Auditorium Publicity Dept, San Diego, LD Gregory, 1925.

  • Winslow, Carleton Monroe. The Architecture and the Gardens of the San Diego Exposition. A Pictorial Survey of the Aesthetic Features of the Panama California International Exposition, Illustrated from photographs by Harold A. Taylor, San Francisco, P Elder and company, 1916.



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