Monday, April 13, 2009

San Diego 1936: The Exposition's Second Season.....

After the close of a successful 5-1/2 month long 1935 season, it was decided to re-open the California-Pacific International Exposition for a second season. Numerous changes were made to the grounds, buildings, attractions, and night illumination to create a totally new experience for 1936. Along the Avenida de Palacios a majority of the Blackwood acacia trees were removed to provide better views of the buildings, and additional landscaping was added. Many new exhibits were also introduced, and the House of Charm was re-named the Palace of International Art, and the Palace of Photography became the Palace of Medical Science. Within the House of Hospitality, the second floor loggia, located at the west side of the central patio, was enclosed with large glass doors; and the rear portion of the Casa del Rey Moro Café was enlarged to provide more indoor dining space. The most noticeable changes were made to the Palisades section, located south-west of the Avenida de Palacios. The Plaza de America was completely re-designed with a double-row of Queen Palms planted at either side, bordering a vast garden of multi-colored flowers; and the Firestone Fountains were replaced with the new Rainbow Fountains. Several buildings were also re-named and a majority of new exhibits added. The Palace of Travel, Transportation and Water became the Palace of Electricity and Water; the Standard Oil Tower to the Sun was re-named the Standard Oil Natural Parks Tower; the Hollywood Motion Picture Hall of Fame became the Palace of Entertainment; and the Palace of Electricity and Varied Industries was changed to the General Exhibits Building. At the south end of the Plaza de America, the large Ford Motor Company Building was transformed into the Palace of Transportation. Ford had relocated their extensive exhibits to the Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas, so the building's interior was re-designed to house an exhibit showing the history of transportation, from primitive times to the present. At the north-east portion of the grounds, the former site of the Casa de Tempo became a children's amusement area known as Enchanted Land; and the center section of Spanish Village was transformed into a large open patio. The Zocalo was re-designed in a moderne-style, surrounding a large landscaped plaza; and included completely new attractions such as "Hollywood Secrets" (showing modern technology used in making movies), the Danse Follies (a musical extravaganza), Big Top Circus (a revised midget show), Strange as it Seems (replacing Ripley's Believe it or Not), and the "Days of '49 Stockade" (replacing the ribald Gold Gulch). Despite much controversy, the Zoro Gardens nudist colony was retained due to its generation of revenue for the exposition. Dramatic new night lighting was introduced for the 1936 season, which used mobile-lighting to paint the buildings and trees in a vast spectrum of changing colors. Unique lighting was also added to Palm Canyon and the Alcazar Gardens which created a "firefly effect" surrounding the landscaping; and a revolving beacon, located atop the tower of the Palace of Science, flashed beams of white light visible for sixty-miles. Facing the Plaza de America, the Palace of Transportation was illuminated in translucent-blue, topped by a glowing gold rim; and further enhanced by the Rainbow Fountains, which displayed ever-changing patterns of water in misty multi-colored sprays.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

San Diego 1935: Globe Theatre.....

The Globe Theatre was located in the area north of the California-Pacific International Exposition's Palace of Science, and modeled after the historic half-timber and thatched-roof London theatre, originally constructed in 1599. The two-level circular structure was open to the sky at the center, similar to the original, and contained a performance stage surrounded by wooden benches seating 600 persons. 45-minute abridged versions of famous Shakespearean plays were presented six times daily to attentive audiences; while hourly performances of English country dances took place on the "village green" situated immediately in front of the building. Adjacent to the theatre were the Falstaff Tavern, serving authentic English food and drink; and the Old Curiosity Shop, where imported English pottery, silver, and many varieties of curios could be purchased.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

San Diego 1935: Gold Gulch.....

The California-Pacific International Exposition's Gold Gulch was a simulated Western mining town covering twenty-one acres in the canyon south-west of Zoro Gardens. Within the town were to be seen all the thrills and excitement of a typical settlement in "the rip-roarin' days of '49". Visitors could ride stage-coaches which rumbled down narrow dirt roads past the Shooting Gallery, Blacksmith Shop, Horse-Shoe Ring, Old Stamp Mill, Pioneer Dance Hall, Bull-Fighting Ring, Cigar Shop, Tin-Type Gallery, Chuck-Wagon Restaurant, and a variety of merchandise and food stands. Among the many live attractions found in Gold Gulch were burro rides, "shoot-outs" performed by pioneer-garbed miners, simulated arrests and hangings, tobacco-spitting contests, and risqué entertainment performed by Gold Gulch Gertie.

Friday, April 10, 2009

San Diego 1935: Zoro Gardens.....

Zoro Gardens was located in the canyon at the south end of the California-Pacific International Exposition's Avenida de Espana, immediately east of the Palace of Better Housing. Known popularly as the "nudist colony", the picturesque gardens were occupied by long-haired topless women and bearded loin-clothed men dedicated to the freedom of outdoor living. The occupants referred to themselves as "Zoros" and performed all the various tasks of daily life, in addition to pseudo-religious rituals worshipping their Sun God, Zoro. The gardens contained landscaped terraces, cobblestoned walls, a waterfall and pool, and an open-air kitchen where vegetarian meals were prepared. Daily programs, consisting of dances and athletic demonstrations, were performed on a large circular stage for the scores of exposition visitors who flocked to the gardens.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

San Diego 1935: The Zocalo.....

The California-Pacific International Exposition's amusement section was located immediately north of Spanish Village, and was known as The Zocalo. Situated along both sides of the long thoroughfare were numerous attractions such as "Miss America" (a colorful beauty pageant show), Ripley's Believe it or Not (an "Odditorium" of humans performing amazing and grotesque feats), Crime Never Pays (featuring John Dillinger's bullet-proof limousine), "Stella" (a life-like painting), Lens Wonders of the World (photographic masterpieces from around the world), Snake Farm (a collection of rare and unusual reptiles), Venetian Glass Blowers (showing the art of glass-blowing), Sexsation (an illusion show), Midget Village (occupied by scores of "little people"), Egyptian Village (featuring Egyptian and Syrian arts and crafts), and "End of the Trail" (featuring 150 Indians from 30 tribes located throughout the United States - housed within the Indian Village remaining from the 1915-16 exposition). Interspersed among the attractions were also rides such as "Bailout" (a parachute jump), Laff in the Dark (a funhouse tunnel-ride), Loop-O-Plane (an aerial thrill ride), Swooper (an elevated spinning ride), and Toyland (a collection of rides designed for children). The Zocalo also contained several shows such as the "Globe of Death" (motorcycle dare-devils performing within a globe of latticed steel), Log Rollers (lumberjacks exhibiting their log-rolling skills), and the "Days of Saladin" (Arabian horses performing amidst colorful pomp and pageantry). An additional exposition attraction, located adjacent to The Zocalo, was the San Diego Zoological Gardens; which contained hundreds of primates, mammals, birds, and reptiles on display within a vast garden of rare plants and trees.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

San Diego 1935: Spanish Village.....

Spanish Village was situated along the northern section of the California-Pacific International Exposition's Avenida de Espana, and occupied the former site of the 1915-16 exposition's Southern California Model Citrus Grove. The large enclosure was designed to create the illusion of old Spain, and contained narrow cobblestoned streets lined with low thick-walled buildings featuring weathered walls, tile roofs, arched doorways, grilled windows, overhanging balconies, wrought-iron lighting fixtures, and colorful flower-pots and awnings. Throughout the village were located more than fifty stores and shops selling a variety of handcrafted items, such as jewelry, pottery, and various types of artwork; in addition to a small art museum which contained a private collection of rare Spanish works of art, valued at more than $300,000. Small food stands sold candies, pastries, and other edibles; and a large restaurant, specializing in authentic Spanish cuisine, featured continuous live entertainment and dancing. Opposite Spanish Village, on the west side of the Avenida de Espana, was located the Hollywood Potteries Building; which contained many varieties of unique pottery and dinnerware, crafted by California artists.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

San Diego 1935: Shell Oil Company Building.....

The Shell Oil Company Building was located on the east side of the California-Pacific International Exposition's Avenida de Espana, immediately north of the Palace of Natural History. Featured within the large shell-shaped structure, copied from the Shell Oil Company trademark, was a thirty-eight foot long electrically-animated highway map, depicting the geographical area from the Pacific Ocean east to the Rocky Mountains, and from Canada south to Mexico. Several murals illustrated historical scenes of transportation in the west; and a fully-staffed information center provided detailed information about the exposition, as well as road maps for every state in the Union. The Shell Oil Company Building was flanked on the south by the Boulder Dam exhibit building, featuring a detailed working scale-model of the enormous dam; and on the north by the Life in San Diego building, a local publication which provided information about events and tourist attractions in the San Diego area.