A Century Ago: A Rare Look at a Spectacular San Francisco Expo

Monday, March 9, 2015 - 11:45

This extraordinary silent footage housed at the Blackhawk Films Collection housed at the Academy Film Archive provides a look at the spectacular 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. An almost year-long celebration staged in San Francisco, California, the Expo celebrated the completion of the decade-long construction of the Panama Canal.

The City by the Bay embraced the opportunity to rebuild its community following a devastating and destructive earthquake that fell on its citizens’ shoulders in 1906. The Expo took three years to construct and opened to great fanfare on February 20, 1915. The fair housed many international pavilions and stretched 635 acres on the north end of the city between Van Ness and the Presidio. Of the dozens of structures that were built for the fair, only the Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District survives.

This highlight footage is a wonderful record of the exquisite courtyards, towers and entertainment that a patron attending the fair could experience. The worldwide attention that the fair received helped to reinvigorate the morale, industry and commerce of the City of San Francisco.

To view the complete film, totaling nearly sixteen minutes, click here.