Monday, June 5, 2017

(16) Chasing the shadows of the Fair

Chasing the shadows of the fair

In search of the rich past

On Sunday, June 4, our friends Jill and Jerry took us on a tour of the city showing us many of the tourist attractions which we have not had the time or the maturity to enjoy when we lived here growing up. It was wonderful!

We also pursued a more serious tour of chasing the remaining shadows of the Panama Pacific International Exhibition. As I've noted in an earlier entry, the fair's exhibits were intended to be   temporary. They were made of burlap covered with Plaster of Paris. Some, like the Legion of Honor and the Palace of Fine Arts were made more permanent in later decades. The Palace of Fine Arts has become a beloved San Francisco landmark. The Palace Of the Legion of Honor also, but to a lesser extent. The Legion of Honor has also been rebuilt, albeit in a different location, made permanent and is also an art museum.

Palace of Fine Arts

 The Palace of the Legion of Honor

We are looking for some of the lesser-known sites. First we traveled to the
Moscone Recreation Center site of Panama Canal Model
Moscone Recreation Center which, although not part of the 1915 fair was the location of one of the fair's major exhibits. A model of the Panama Canal, complete with working locks, was on exhibition here. It is now a recreation center and athletic fields.
Athletic Fields at Moscone Recreation Center
To see the athletic fields gives you some impression of the size of the exhibit of the  Panama Canal. This was a grand model intended to further inspire the nation that had just constructed a wonder of the modern world, that is a canal across the Isthmus of Panama. Visitors to the fair were either blind or else extremely impressed by this model. Both in its accurate representation of the real canal and the technical achievement of both the actual Canal and the model.

Model of Panama Canal 1915 PPIE
After having lunch in downtown San Francisco we proceeded to Belmont, south of the City. In Belmont is The Van's restaurant which originally served as part of the Japanese exhibit to the fair.

Tea House at the Fair

Japanese Exhibit to PPIE
In one sense it is probably the only remnant of the fair that has survived without major reconstruction. This teahouse was taken from its site as part of the Japanese exhibit to the fair and moved to the waterfront. There it was put on a barge and floated south of the city to Belmont. In Belmont it initially served as a private residence. Later it was pulled by horses up the hill to its present location. The history of The Van's is somewhat checkered. At different points in its history it served not only as a private residence but later as a prohibition era speakeasy and perhaps as a center of harlotry.

Van's was a pleasant surprise on our tour. I thought we would quickly view the structure and move on. Instead we stayed for a delicious meal and a pleasant evening with good friends.

Wallpaper in The Van's



I  was told that the interior features some of the original  woodwork and original wallpaper of the 1915 teahouse remain.
The Van's, Interior woodwork

In addition the meal was superb. It was reasonably priced, the tables were set with white tablecloths, it was quiet enough to engage in pleasant conversation and the food was delicious. For dessert the four of us split a large slice of cheesecake. I have to say it was the best cheesecake I have ever had. (Sorry Mom and Linda.) The restaurant seemed to be enjoying a brisk business, although I have to say that given the quality of the food and the ambience I'm surprised (but glad) it was not more crowded.

Jill and Linda contemplating the best
Cheesecake ever!

On Monday I traveled back to Oakland to check on the Ranchero. A report on the progress of the work will be the subject of a later blog entry. I want to be more sure of the outcome. Suffice it to say it has been a roller coaster ride, one that I want to get off. However, I think we are here for the week. Oh well!

1 comment:

  1. Hope progress continues and enjoy the week regardless!