2011 Palace of Fine Arts Tour
November 20, 2011
On Sunday November 20 a group of twenty hardy souls, including our youngest Club member fourteen month old Vincent Frueh, trekked through the rain from the Rod and Gun Club down the Great Highway through the Presidio to the Palace of Fine Arts.
The Palace is the last remaining vestige of the Pan Pacific International Exposition. This rectangular shaped mile in San Francisco’s Marina district was home to the 1915 Worlds Fair. The Exposition was built to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal but also served to show the world that the “City that Knows How” was back in business following the destructive 1906 earthquake.
We learned that, along with over nineteen million visitors to the fair during its eleven month run, Henry Ford and the Liberty Bell visited the Fair. After the Fair the bell returned to Pennsylvania and has never been moved since. Henry set up a Model T assembly line in the Palace of Transportation, built a car every 10 minutes (it was a very low production assembly line - it ran from 1:40 pm to 4:40 pm Monday through Saturday and produced 18 cars per day for a total output of 4,338 cars, with no production on Sunday), and sold the entire production before the Fair ended on December 4, 1915.
Our group, chilled and soggy, walked the adjacent neighborhood. Our guide Barbara Casey discussed how residents of the Marina worked to raise the funding that supported the restoration and renovation of the lagoon and Palace. Barbara reviewed the history of the Fair and specifically the Palace of Fine Arts from the design by Bernard Maybeck to its demolition in 1964 and restoration. What we have today is an exact reproduction of the original Palace in steel and concrete. The original was a temporary structure made of plaster and burlap fiber.
We finished the day in the warmth of the Presidio Golf Club Cafe watching the Forty Niners win their game. It was a fitting end to a wonderful November day in San Francisco. It was a very low production assembly line – it ran from 1:40 PM to 4:40 PM Monday through Saturday and produced 18 cars per day for a total output of 4,338 cars, with no production on Sunday.
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Photos by Scott Williams