December 4th, 1915, was the final night of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, literally, its zenith. From there forth, everything was in decline and by January of 1916, the exposition was already being demolished, its buildings and other hardware were sold off bargain prices, and the land used was cleared and returned to its original owner.

Some buildings, such as the Ohio Building, were put on barges and shipped to other places around the Bay Area. The Ohio building stood at the edge of San Carlos airport where it had been moved in 1916. It was ultimately razed in the early 50s.

Within days of the exposition’s end, the results seemed to indicate it was highly profitable. The success of the exposition (as extolled in the article below) is nicely juxtaposed by this cartoon of poor, old Uncle Sam’s whose relative are depicted as he is pulled and pushed to an even bigger deficit, the Slough of Despond.

San Francisco Chronicle, December 7th, 1915.

San Francisco Chronicle, December 7th, 1915.

As early as eight days after the exposition’s end, the Massachusetts building was already up for auction.

Advertisement for the sale of the Massachusetts Building, December 12, 1915.

Advertisement for the sale of the Massachusetts Building, December 12, 1915.

William D’Arcy Ryan, the mastermind of the innovative indirect lighting which dazzled crowds at the exposition was advertising the sale of Novagems from the Tower of Jewels.

Ad for sale of Novagems. Source: San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 12th, 1916.

Ad for sale of Novagems. Source: San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 12th, 1916.

Everything was for sale or so it seemed. For the adventurous, there were even oddities for purchase such as the alligator farm listed below.

From the classified ads, San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 19th, 1916.

From the classified ads, San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 19th, 1916.

Artifacts from the exposition made their way into many other hands. Some of these items are included in this article from the San Francisco Chronicle which has the best list I’ve seen so far on this subject. Others, though, seem never to make these lists (such as a sculpture at Sequoia High School in Redwood City whose existence I’ve been trying to confirm with a local historian. As recently as February, I had heard at our local history reading room that someone in the Edgewood Road area of San Mateo County believed they he have one of the other Japanese buildings from the fair.

One final thing, this recently released simulation gives you an idea of what it would be like today were we able to return to explore the exposition grounds.

4 thoughts on ““Z” is for Zenith

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