As the favorite building at the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition, the Palace of Fine Arts was saved from the wrecking ball and has been a San Francisco landmark to love ever since. Here are some fun facts about the exposition and the Palace.

1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition by the Numbers

Palace of Fine Arts by the Numbers

Did You Know...

• 635 acres of land reclaimed from San Francisco Bay
• $50 million in construction
• $50 million more in intrinsic value of objects exhibited
• 21 countries, all 48 U.S. states, and 50 California counties represented
• 1,500 statues
• 65 acres of amusement concessions
• 255,149 visitors on opening day, February 20, 1915
• 18,876,438 visitors during the nine months of the fair
• 50 cents admission for adults; 25 cents for children
• $4,715,523.05 in total revenue generated

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• $621,929 to construct the Palace
• 148,00 square-foot footprint on nearly 17 acres of land
• 1,100 foot wide rotunda, 162 feet high
• 30 Corinthian columns frame a wide walkway in the colonnade

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• The 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition drew many famous visitors, including former presidents William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt, future president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, World War I flying ace Edie Rickenbacker, Buffalo Bill Cody, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Ansel Adams, and silent film star Charlie Chaplin.

• The 1915 exposition began a love affair between filmmakers and the Palace that continues to this day. Comedians Mabel Normand and Fatty Arbuckle, with director Mack Sennett, filmed a silent short at the exposition: Mabel and Fatty Viewing the World’s Fair at San Francisco. Look for scenes shot at the Palace in films such as Vertigo, The Wedding Planner, The Game, Twisted, and Foul Play. TV shows like Nash Bridges, Monk, and Crazy Like a Fox have also used the Palace as a backdrop. And the Palace of Fine Arts Theater hosts San Francisco’s annual Noir City Film Festival.

• In 1912, colorist Jules Guerin was appointed the Panama Pacific Exposition’s chief of color. He chose colors he saw in San Francisco and the surrounding area: deep cerulean from the sea and the sky, lush greens and tawny gold from the velvet, oak-studded hills of Marin and the East Bay, and subdued hues found in the clay and sand hills of San Francisco. Guerin’s color accents recalled the ancient lands so dear to architects like Bernard Maybeck: rich bronze and copper patina, terra cotta, and above all, the mellow tones of travertine marble. In 2005, the Campaign for the Palace of Fine Arts supported restoration of the Palace dome, returning it to its original color from Guerin’s palette.

• The Corinthian colonnade and Romanesque rotunda of the Palace of Fine Arts were originally framed in wood, then covered with staff, a mixture of plaster and burlap-type fiber.

• Palace architect Bernard Maybeck was born in New York in 1862 and spent five years studying architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris before setting up practice in Berkeley in 1890. Maybeck’s distinctive work, admired by architects and historians alike, includes the First Church of Christ Scientist in Berkeley and the Rose Walk, also in Berkeley.

• The swampy site selected for the Palace was originally owned by Rudolph Herman, proprietor of Herman’s Harbor View Baths.

• Each of the Palace’s Corinthian columns is topped by four maidens — sometimes called “weepers.” The design for the Palace included a planter box at the top of the colonnade but, because funds ran low, nothing was ever planted. Sculptor Ulric Ellerhusen, who created the maidens, originally conceived them as nourishing the planters with tears symbolizing “the melancholy of life without art.”

• During World War II, the U.S. Army used the Palace to store trucks and jeeps.

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