The Panama-Pacific International Exposition

PPIE Panoramic shot looking towards the bay, 1915
PPIE View From Cow Hollow
View of the Expo from Cow Hollow

The Panama-Pacific International Exposition opened on Saturday, February 20, 1915. California Governor Hiram Johnson declared it a legal holiday. The wet weather did not deter the crowds that morning after the six a.m. wake up call roused them. Governor Johnson and the Mayor of San Francisco, James Rolph, led a parade of 150,000 San Francisco residents and world visitors from Broadway, up Van Ness Avenue to the gates of the white city at Scott and Chestnut Streets.


The mob stretched some two and a half miles. By the time they reached their destination, the marching bands and other parade components had been completely lost in the citizenry. The main gates opened at ten a.m. and the main square was filled. Many speeches and prayers were given at the base of the Tower of Jewels.

Fountain of Energy on Opening Day
The Fountain of Energy on Opening Day.

At precisely noon, President Wilson pressed a gold telegraph key in Washington D.C. sending a signal three thousand miles from New Jersey to an antenna atop the Tower of Jewels. The great doors to the exhibition palaces swung open and water flowed from the Fountain of Energy. Cannons boomed and the crowd cheered. The city’s return from the devastation of 1906 was complete and her grandest celebration had begun!


A single person could have spent 24 hours a day at the expo - every day the expo was open - and still not have seen it all...

Visit the Exposition Palaces where the world showcased their very best

Head west of the main exposition grounds to visit the State Buildings

Take a tour of the world as you walk along the Avenue of Nations and view the Foreign Pavilions

The Presidio has a long military history. See how the Military's Role shaped the expo.

Visit the most sensational sixty five acres at the exposition along The "Joy" Zone

Aviators, athletes and drivers competed during the year of the exposition in many types of Sports and Athletics

See what was happening on many of the 1000+ special days and events during the PPIE

The PPIE was often referred to as a city within a city as demonstrated here in this overlay. The PPIE map(black) has been placed over a map of what is now the Marina, Fort Mason, Crissy Field and the some of the Presidio.

For More Information:

To see more photos and maps, please visit the Panama-Pacific International Exposition home page.

To learn more about the events leading up to the fair, visit Prologue to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

To learn about the legacy of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition and its impact on San Francisco, please visit The Legacy of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

Take a stroll along former fair grounds with the Panama-Pacific International Exposition walking tour.

Last updated: October 17, 2016

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