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The opening of the Panama Canal appeals to the imagination of every civilized nation upon the earth and to the anticipations of more of mankind than any material achievement within the history of the world. Civilization, for centuries pushing its way westward around the globe at last finds a gateway to the Pacific. By gift of America the nations of the world become, as it were, shareholders in America's greatest enterprise. Each is entitled to its dividends in international trade and friendship; each has an open field of opportunity. The gate is open and East and West will meet more freely.
For some years the propriety of a celebration to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal has been widely recognized by the press and public men of the United States and of foreign nations. Such a celebration, in close accord with international sentiment, would fittingly express the gratification of the countries of the world at America's gift to civilization, and at the same time would possess a material value in bringing the nations into closer relationship. The Congress of the United States has selected the Pacific Coast, where the races meet, as the logical and fitting place in which to hold this great international fete; America has accepted the offer of San Francisco to act as host to the world at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915, and the United States will find San Francisco with her house adorned and ready when the Nation welcomes the world.
So it is that San Francisco, less than six years ago a city of ruins, is preparing to entertain the world with the greatest exposition in history, a jubilee of nations, a splendid commemorative celebration which shall not only include the finest features of all former world's expositions, but yet in magnificence, in diversity, in its distinctive color of the West, of the Orient, and of all the countries bordering upon the Pacific Ocean, shall stand alone.
The opening of the Panama Canal will be the most important commercial event in the history of the world. With the canal in operation a world's highway will lead from Europe to the Orient via America; the Pacific coasts of North, South and Central America and Mexico will be opened to direct traffic with Europe, and vessels will go from Atlantic to Pacific Coast ports in less than three weeks time. Ships passing through the canal to Japan will, if they go by the great circle, the shortest route, pass within one hundred and sixty-five miles of the Golden Gate. Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City are increasing their river service as feeders to Panama. A thousand new avenues of commercial enterprise are made possible between producers who have never met.
Every civilized nation in the world and every country within the sweep of both shores of the Pacific Ocean will be represented at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition with the greatest displays that the world has ever seen.
The displays from the Orient will be particularly lavish. Down Market Street, in Exposition days, will pass such Oriental pageants as the world has never seen. The nations of the Orient, stirring from the sleep of centuries to the call of progress, will startle the Occidental mind with the most bizarre and novel effects ever witnessed.
The Panama-Pacific International Exposition is already under way. A site, comprising greater acreage than that of any prior exposition, combining the scenic features of harbor and hills that render San Francisco one of the splendid cities of the world, and peculiarly suited to a great maritime celebration, has been selected. The President of the United States has broken ground; a notable commission of architects is engaged upon the plans, and California alone has raised more than twenty million dollars, a larger fund than was ever assured a world's exposition at an initial stage. This sum is less than one-fourth of the amount which will be expended upon the Exposition. It is California's donation to the world's great fete.
San Francisco will be a magic city when the Exposition opens. In their entirety, plans for the Exposition include the adornment of San Francisco on a surpassing scale. Streets, parks, the waterfront and great hills commanding superb panoramic views, will be adorned and improved in harmony with the Exposition plans at an expenditure of many millions of dollars. With impressive Exposition structures rising from San Francisco Bay, with city and wooded slopes as a background, and in the foreground a vast fleet of battleships of the world, the sight will be one of the magnificent spectacles of history.
The Ferry Building, the main entrance to San Francisco, will be the entrance to Exposition City, with a grand court of honor. Market Street will be gay with white columns, arcades, and flags of the nations; at night it will glitter with electrical displays. Van Ness Avenue, too, will be adorned, and near the junction of Market and Van Ness will be established a civic center with a great auditorium to house conventions during the Exposition. Telegraph Hill, looming 287 feet above San Francisco harbor, will be terraced and surmounted with the tallest wireless tower that can be constructed, while at Lincoln Park will be erected a colossal commemorative statue welcoming ships to the Golden Gate. The two principal locations of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition will be at Harbor View and in Golden Gate Park. Harbor View lies as a crescent on San Francisco Bay, midway between the Ferry Building and the Golden Gate. The west end of Golden Gate Park, which will be used for Exposition purposes, faces the Pacific Ocean, below the famous Cliff House. These two sites, together with intermediate locations, will be connected by a winding boulevard, a bay and ocean drive, that will skirt the fringes of San Francisco harbor and parallel the Pacific Ocean. It will pass from Harbor View through the wooded hilly slopes of the Presidio military reservation, by frowning cliffs that line the approach to the Golden Gate, by flowered bungalow and green-lawned mansion, by palm and pine, to Lincoln Park, the supreme observation point of the Exposition. Thence, turning to the south, it will parallel the Pacific Ocean to Golden Gate Park.
Long after the Exposition has become a memory the boulevard will remain, like the Yellowstone and Yosemite, as one of the show places of the West. Ultimately, perhaps, it may pass under government jurisdiction, for a great portion of the drive will wind through the slopes of the government military reservation at the Presidio, a location that affords a splendid opportunity for the most comprehensive military and government service display ever made.
Who may anticipate the surpassing beauty of Harbor View, the marine site of the Exposition, when at night it shall sparkle with a myriad of electrical illuminations, while the vast fleet of battleships in San Francisco harbor, limned in chains of golden light, shall add indescribable brilliancy to the scene? At Harbor View will be located a magnificent yacht harbor, the "midway" and night life of the Exposition, and great buildings to house such heavy exhibits as may be readily unloaded from ocean-going vessels, such as the structures to contain the machinery, manufactures exhibits, the Palace of Liberal Arts, and other industrial features that will illustrate the more serious phases of the Exposition.
The panorama from Harbor View is unsurpassed even at the Riviera; looking seaward one sees the changing colors of the bay, and the islands, and the ships, and further the great mountains of the Marin shore, with Mount Tamalpais, the tallest of all, its summit often wrapped in a turban of fog, as a background for the setting. At nightfall from Harbor View one may see the sun sink beneath the picturesque straits that, guarded by rugged promontories, is called the Golden Gate. Fort Point and Lime Point, like watch-dogs, guard the portals of the Gate, muzzled and hiding their disappearing guns. Beyond looms the Pacific Ocean.
Golden Gate Park will be the seat of the permanent features of the Exposition. With an area of more than a thousand acres, Golden Gate Park, forested and created of sand dunes, today presents one of the most notable achievements in landscape gardening in the world. Roses, palms and pines, an amazing variety and profusion of the growths of the temperate and semi-tropical zones, create a setting for lakes, hills, buildings and open vistas. The west end of Golden Gate Park, comprising five hundred and forty acres, will be utilized for exposition purposes. Around a great stadium, already built, will be erected a huge concrete coliseum, the largest structure of its kind in America, capable of seating seventy-five thousand people, and in architecture like that at Rome. A chain of lakes at different levels will be connected by a working model of the Panama Canal.
Statuary and palms will add to the natural beauty of the setting, but perhaps the most delightful and instructive feature will be comprised in a series of wonderful Japanese, Chinese and Hawaiian gardens. The rarest and most beautiful exotic flowers, plants and shrubs - a thousand phases of tropical plant life as developed for centuries by the consummate skill of the Oriental gardener - will give perhaps the first opportunity to gain a comprehensive knowledge of Oriental gardening.
To entertain the world, not only upon the vast scale which the world expects, but upon a plan which for its originality and comprehensiveness shall appeal to everyone, California alone had assured more than seventeen million dollars toward the Panama-Pacific International Exposition before it had been determined by the Nation to hold the Exposition in San Francisco. The sum far exceeded the total expended upon many great world's expositions. Of the twenty millions pledged by California alone more than four million dollars was subscribed in less than two hours at a public meeting in San Francisco. Capitalists and working people alike contributed to the fund. Subscriptions came in so rapidly that it was difficult to keep track of the tally. Subsequent to this meeting an additional three million dollars was subscribed by the people of San Francisco. The subscriptions ran from a few dollars up to hundreds of thousands. Five million dollars was voted for a bond issue by San Francisco; and another five million was appropriated by the State of California. To this aggregate may be added an additional four millions of dollars, authorized by an act of the Legislature permitting the counties to raise this amount by a special county tax.
The reconstruction of San Francisco called for the expenditure of more money than is required to build the Panama Canal, and its people, struggling under great difficulties, went to great sacrifice. Five years ago a few new buildings stood like oases amid the desolation. Today a stranger to San Francisco would not know from its appearance that a fire had ever occurred.
From Twin Peaks to the Ferry Building, a good five miles, Market Street is a hundred and twenty-five foot chasm, flanked on either side by great walls of solid, broad-chested buildings. Five hundred and eight city blocks were destroyed in 1906, and today San Francisco is the newest city in the world. The loss through the fire is estimated at more than $500,000,000; an even vaster sum was expended in the restoration of the city.
The West will be on exhibition to those who view the Panama - Pacific International Exposition in 1915. Excursion rates will give thousands the opportunity to know their own country better. Think of the wonders! The Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, the Yosemite, the Garden of the Gods, Great Salt Lake, Puget Sound, the Inland Trip to Alaska, the Government's huge reclamation projects in Montana, Idaho and the Dakotas, and indeed in any of sixteen Western states, the Columbia River region, the vast forests of Oregon; Arizona, New Mexico - now in the sisterhood of states - and Nevada with some of the greatest mining camps in the world, and, perhaps, most wonderful of all, the journey through the Panama Canal, either coming or going, will be among the unusual opportunities of 1915 to see much of the world at moderate expenditure and under conditions never before obtained.
An opportunity to learn of the American Southwest will be presented through the Panama-California Exposition at San Diego in 1915. Rapid progress has already been made upon the Panama-California Exposition, which will be devoted to a demonstration of irrigation, cultivation and reforestation of arid lands, and of the development and resources of the great Southwest, and to such exhibition illustrative of the lives and the tribal history of the various Indian tribes and natives of the United States and of Central and South America as would arrest at once the attention and the interest of ethnologists the world over in a race that is fast passing away. Such an exhibition of Indian life has never been successfully attempted in the world's history. It is proposed to make it as complete at the San Diego Exposition as to cover all that is possible to learn of the Indian and his life and manners.
The Panama-Pacific International Exposition will open with a pageant in San Francisco harbor of the battleships of the navies of the world. The foreign vessels will first assemble at Hampton Roads, where, joined by the ships of the American navy, the entire fleet will be reviewed by the President of the United States. This fleet, the largest ever brought together, will then proceed through the Panama Canal to the harbor of San Francisco, where it will participate in the most spectacular naval demonstration ever witnessed. San Francisco, in 1915, will see the flags of more nations than have ever been brought together in one place at any one time.
Inasmuch as the Panama-Pacific International Exposition will be held to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal, the following data relative to the canal will be of interest: The canal is to be about fifty miles in length from deep water in the Caribbean Sea to deep water in the Pacific Ocean. It will have a minimum depth of forty-one feet and a summit elevation of eighty-five feet above the sea, to be reached by a flight of three locks located at Gatun on the Atlantic side and one lock at Pedro Miguel and a flight of two at Miraflores on the Pacific side; all these locks to be in duplicate, that is to have two chambers side by side. Each lock will have a usable length of 1,000 feet and a width of 110 feet. The cost of the canal is estimated at $375,000,000 and the time required for passage at thirteen hours.
San Francisco is splendidly equipped to hold a great exposition; in the city are over thirteen hundred hotels with accommodations to suit all persons, ranging from the finest in the world to those less pretentious but no less comfortable. No city in the world surpasses San Francisco in respect to its accommodations. Intense heat is unknown in San Francisco. The average summer temperature is fifty-nine degrees, or but seven degrees above the winter average. Within a radius of two hundred miles one may see every contrast from snow to orange blossoms. Hundreds of attractive side trips may be had on a day's or a few hours' jaunt from San Francisco, or, indeed, in San Francisco itself.