The San Diego Exposition / Panama-California Exposition
Brown, C. Townsend
Date of Creation:
Published also as a post card by Eno & Matteson of San Diego, in November of 1913. Townsend Brown’s view represents an early design for the Goodhue - Allen vision of the exposition after the resignation of the Olmsted first in mid-1911.
In spite of intense rivalry between San Diego, San Francisco and even New Orleans to host an exposition in honour of the anticipated opening of the Panama Canal, San Diego won through - not least by changing the park’s name from “City Park,” to “Balboa Park” in 1910, after Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa who crossed Panama and discovered the Pacific Ocean on September 29, 1513.
Originally the prestigious Olmsted firm was given the commission for designing the fairground, however when their plan for constructing the site in the constricted canyon-cut in the south of the park was over-ruled in favour of a position on the central mesa, the firm resigned, as Olmsted was unalterably opposed to building in the middle of the park because it would eliminate all chance of creating a sylvan, semi-rural respite from the city, which, as his father’s work consistently taught, was the main function of a large urban park.
Nevertheless, elaborate ground-breaking ceremonies took place in Balboa Park on July 19th, 1911.
By late September, Bertram Goodhue and Frank P. Allen presented a new exposition ground plan for the central site. That plan, is roughly what Townsend Brown has presented in his view: although modified several times, it shows the basis for what was built between 1912 and 1914, along the basic axes of Prado, Isthmus and Via de los Estados. In 1914, John D. Spreckels obtained permission to construct a street car line from downtown San Diego to the exposition and in 1917 he extended it to the north side of Balboa Park and the suburbs.