While I was researching the narration for the video I ended up learning a lot about the site that I didn’t originally know. For example, I had no idea that the palace of fine arts was once used as 18 tennis courts, storage for the Army, or as a telephone book distribution center. Telephone book? What’s that?! It was also such a popular building during the exposition that a campaign to save it from destruction had begun before the expo had even ended. And who says San Francisco hasn’t always liked a good cause?
The Palace of Fine Arts was originally built for the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition, which was theoretically a celebration of the opening of the Panama Canal but was really just a great excuse to throw a party and show the world how well San Francisco had recovered from the 1906 earthquake. For those of you who think San Francisco vanity is a recent phenomenon, I offer you the 1915 expo as proof that we’ve always been a vain city! It was completely demolished and rebuilt in 1965 because the lightweight materials it was originally built with were never designed to last for a long period and it was literally crumbling to the ground.
Another renovation and seismic upgrade were recently completed, and I highly encourage you to get outside and enjoy this San Francisco treasure. One more fun fact: Only two buildings built for the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition remain standing in their original locations. One of them is the Palace of Fine Arts. Any guesses about the other building?