Balboa Park – Centennial of the Panama-California Exposition

San Diego, California.

Last week we visited some of the gardens in San Diego’s famed Balboa Park. This week we celebrate the architecture and history of the area originally known as City Park. With the completion of the Panama Canal, San Diego would be the first United States port of call for ships travelling westbound, and the last U. S. port of call for eastbound ships. It was a natural for San Diego to host a celebration of the completion of the canal, but to do that would require facilities that would support thousands of guests for over a year. The exposition was to open January 1, 1915, and last into the next year. In the planning stages for San Diego’s exposition, civic leaders selected the City Park for the site. They gave the city park a more fitting name for the park, one that reflected the heritage and history of America. Before the exposition began, the park would be named for Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, the discoverer of the Pacific Ocean on his explorations of Panama.

Balboa Park Architecture-9

Balboa Park would become a long-term showcase for art and history. The buildings were designed with quality materials giving the city a permanent showcase for theaters, museums and art galleries. It’s been a hundred years since the exposition opened in Balboa Park and the buildings have stood the test of time. On the day of our visit, we spent only a few minutes inside of any of these buildings, despite the fact that it was cloudy, dreary and threatening rain much of the day. We arrived fairly early, so there weren’t many visitors at first. As the day wore on, however, people showed up to spend the afternoon, if not the whole day at the park. Today’s post is long on images and short on text. I will leave it to my readers who are interested in learning more about Balboa Park to find there is much to see at the park’s website here. Those interested in architecture may enjoy reviewing a document from 1914 that describes the architecture designed for the park here. For those just interested in the pictures, I submit my gallery of Balboa Park. Click on an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.

John Steiner

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