San Francisco Parties Like It’s 1915

1915 ppie
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

As you’ve certainly noticed by now, San Francisco is in the midst of a year-long celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE), the World’s Fair celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal and showcasing San Francisco—its recovery from the ashes of the 1906 earthquake and fire and its world trade potential. You can join in when the festivities continue during the ceremonial re-lighting of the Ferry Building on March 3 at 5:30 p.m.

For the duration of the 1915 Exposition the Ferry Building was festooned with lights, a beacon proudly proclaiming “1915” to the world. At tonight’s civic ceremony, lights will be switched on at 6:15 p.m. and remain on until Dec. 4, 2015, the night the Fair closed. The Ferry Building re-lighting was made possible in part by a grant from philanthropist and real estate magnate Tad Taube, the founder and chairman of Taube Philanthropies. Taube also gave $2 million to the Bay Lights, which will be turned off later this week, reinstalled next February in time for the Super Bowl, gifted to the State of California and remain lit permanently.

“As we commemorate the 100th anniversary since the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, which put San Francisco on the world map, we celebrate with light and splendor across our beautiful city,” Taube said in a statement. “Along with members of the Bay Area community, we have been privileged to help support The Bay Lights, a magnificent work of art illuminating the Bay Bridge. Indeed, it was Bay Lights, which inspired us to also become involved in the Centennial festivities of relighting of the Palace of Fine Arts and the Ferry Building.

“The lights will help us celebrate the brilliance and majesty of our City by the Bay over the past 100 years.”

The centennial celebration officially kicked off on Feb. 20, the exact 100th anniversary of the opening of the PPIE, with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and more than 600 hundred Bay Area civic leaders and philanthropists, including many descendants of San Francisco families that organized and financed the original exposition. Festivities were held in the Palace of Fine Arts, the one building remaining in its original spot at the PPIE.

The stunning party was hosted by the California Historical Society, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, Maybeck
Foundation, and Innovation Hangar. Posh fair food and a special Palace Martini were provided by McCalls Catering. The evening included viewings of original artifacts from the 1915 Fair and a new exhibition, City Rising, by the California Historical Society and housed at the Palace of Fine Arts throughout Centennial year. The evening also included a performance by Hana Hou100, a ukulele quartet, celebrating an instrument that made a splash at the 1915 World’s Fair.

In addition to Lee and Taube were former Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr., Chief of Protocol Charlotte Shultz and her husband, former Secretary of State George Shultz, California State Senator Mark Leno, Nancy and Joachim Bechtle and Mark Buell. Key sponsors in attendance included Will and Steve Hearst of the Hearst Corporation; Ken McNeely, CEO of AT&T California; Scott Seligman, CEO of Sterling Bank; and Jim Foley, Regional President of Wells Fargo.

During the evening’s remarks, Mayor Lee and Anthea Hartig, CEO & Executive Director of the California Historical Society hailed the historic moment and encouraged people to return the next day for Community Day, an event that drew more than 12,000 people to the Palace of Fine Arts for a day of music, performances and the official opening of Innovation Hangar. The evening concluded with a private viewing of a new film and light installation created for Opening Weekend by Optic Flare and the first viewing of Palace After Dark, where guests could experience the Palace Rotunda as it was lit in 1915. Lighting design by Everything Audio Visual.

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography