Mark your calendars—Company’s Coming to the San Francisco Public Library.
On September 9, 2015, the San Francisco History Center will open its exhibition, Company’s Coming: San Francisco Hosts the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in the Skylight Gallery on the 6th floor of the Main Library. This exhibition highlights how the City of San Francisco and its residents prepared for the PPIE by completing numerous civic projects and building its impressive fairgrounds to host millions of visitors. The exhibition also explores how people from San Francisco and beyond engaged with the palaces, exhibits, concessions, and special events they encountered at the Fair, then commemorated their experiences in images, writing, and memorabilia.
All of these stories are captured in a variety of materials from the San Francisco History Center’s collections: PPIE artifacts, guidebooks, pamphlets, official documents, personal scrapbooks, photographs, postcards, and many other archival items. Just what will you encounter when you come to Company’s Coming? Here are a few objects you can look forward to.
Company’s Coming traces San Francisco’s preparations for the PPIE back to the earliest days of the Fair’s conceptualization, the campaign to host it, and the movement to finance it. Things of beauty in themselves, bonds like this one were instrumental in the realization of the Exposition.
There is no shortage of maps detailing the Exposition grounds, but there’s one in particular you shouldn’t miss. That’s an original Sanborn Fire Insurance Map documenting Exposition buildings, along with locations of fire alarm boxes, hydrants, and other fire-related information. But the map is more than the information it imparts: as an archival document, its physicality, miniscule working notes, markings, and pasted-in corrections suggest an entirely different story of how the map and the layout of the grounds evolved.
|Detail of PPIE Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1915, San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.|
High School Yearbooks
San Francisco’s youth were definitely among the PPIE’s enraptured visitors—the Polytechnic High School yearbook cover pictured below (evoking the Court of the Universe with the Column of Progress in the distance) indicates as much. Company’s Coming puts the spotlight on Polytechnic students’ experiences of the Fair, whether through the lens of their Fair-themed creative works or accounts of their participation.
As one might expect, the PPIE saw a wealth of souvenirs being sold, bought, and given away. Company’s Coming features a wide sampling of items that commemorate the Fair and highlights unique memorabilia, including the handmade keepsake for sale at the Exposition pictured here.
At Company’s Coming, you’ll discover a rich selection of official photographs, personal snapshots, panoramas, and photo postcards documenting the PPIE. These capture the Fair, literally and figuratively, from every imaginable viewpoint. Images like this one of workers who helped build the Tower of Jewels suggest how the PPIE was just as much about grit as it was of grandeur.
|Iron Workers on Main Tower or Tower of Jewels, San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.|
Of course, the five items previewed in this blog post will never tell the whole story of how San Franciscans envisioned, built, experienced, and remembered the PPIE. To learn more, visit the Skylight Gallery on the 6th floor of the Main Library, September 9 to December 31, 2015. Company’s Coming will have arrived by then. We hope you’ll be there, too.