San Diego Welcomes the World, an exhibition of materials from the Library’s Special Collections & Archives, celebrates the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, which commemorated the opening of the Panama Canal, and launched the City as an international venue. The construction of the Panama Canal was an immense engineering feat, dramatically cutting the distance and cost of international shipping by opening a passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It also proved to be an excellent opportunity for enhancing San Diego’s profile–as it would become the first port north of the Panama Canal on the West Coast of the United States. The event also provided San Diego leaders with the impetus for transforming Balboa Park from an undeveloped, arid property, into a lush and distinctly Spanish paradise. The 1915 Exposition led to both the greening of Balboa Park as well as the creation of the park’s cultural institutions and stunning Spanish Revival architecture.
The exhibition, which is on display on the main floor in Geisel Library (2nd floor, West Wing) until July 5, 2015, includes images of some of the few permanent structures designed for the fair, including the California Tower and dome, the Cabrillo Bridge, and the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Other items in the exhibit include souvenir books and postcards, newspaper articles, sheet music, a special student admittance pass, maps of the Canal, and more.