About the Exposition

The World’s Fairs of the 1930s featured marvels of science, technology, and manufacturing, while creating thousands of jobs. President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs provided economic relief to a nation held in the grips of the Great Depression. San Diego’s California Pacific International Exposition was held from May 29, 1935–November 11, 1935 and February 12, 1936–September 9, 1936. Also called America’s Exposition, it was held in Balboa Park, site of the 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition.

The first year was such a financial and attendance success that it was held over for a second year. The exposition had hundreds of exhibits on history, the arts, horticulture, ethnic cultures, science, and industry. Popular highlights included Globe Theatre performances, Gold Gulch, Zoro Garden Nudist Colony, Midget Village and Alpha the Robot.

Some of the buildings remaining from the 1915 Panama-California Exposition were used for exhibits and dining. Two of the 1915 temporary buildings were remodeled. 1) The 1915 Foreign Arts Building became the House of Hospitality, changed dramatically by architects Richard Requa and Sam Hamill. The roof was removed from the center of the building, which became a courtyard, with a central fountain containing a stone sculpture by local artist Donal Hord. A new second floor added office and meeting space. A south wing was removed completely, replaced by the Casa del Rey Moro and garden. 2) Just across the Prado, Hamill and Requa remodeled the 1915 Home Economy Building, which became Café of the World, a huge dining hall. It was demolished in the 1960s. New buildings were constructed within five months in the Palisades, the southernmost part of the Central Mesa. These included the Federal Building, Electricity and Varied Industries Building, Ford Building, Ford Music Bowl, California State Building, and Hollywood Hall of Fame. Buildings no longer extant in the Palisades were the Standard Oil Tower to the Sun and the Travel, Transportation and Water Building on a site which is now a parking lot south of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. New areas included Spanish Village and the House of Pacific Relations, a collection of cottages where immigrants from various nations demonstrated their crafts, food, and costumes.