tv 1915 1939 San Francisco Worlds Fairs CSPAN May 26, 2018 9:35pm-10:01pm EDT
san francisco was home to two world fairs. american history tv was at the annual meeting, about the fair's organizers and exhibits. this is about 15 minutes. >> associate professor of history in carroll university. where is that? >> in wisconsin. >> how long have you been teaching? >> i've been teaching at carroll for 12 years and i taught part time a little bit before that. and then in graduate school. full time for 12 years. >> one of your many projects, co-editing a book, what is this all about? >> it's a collection of essays by various scholars about women in general at world fairs, so looking at the way that women, women groups participate in world fairs, way women were represented in world fairs and
using gender as a leverage to examine a number of different fairs from that perspective. >> what have you learned? >> well, we've learned, i co-edited that book with a colleague, and i would say that we learned that gender is incredibly important in fairs. it manifests itself in a lot of different ways, and even at fairs that didn't have women's buildings, women were participating in fairs, in organizing and influencing and working and in lots of different ways. >> i want to get the name right, it was 1915. >> yes. >> the panama pacific international exposition in san francisco. >> yes. >> what was it? >> often called the ppie, so you don't have to say that name again. the ppie was a huge world far and international exposition held on the shores of san francisco bay in what's now the marina district for people familiar with san francisco. it was to celebrate the completion of the panama canal and also to commemorate the 400th anniversary of balboa, the
spanish explorer sighting of the pacific. it was essentially an excuse for san francisco to throw a huge party. nine months long party. this world fair and it was an attempt also by san francisco to demonstrate the city's rising up after the earthquake and fire of 1906. so city boosters wanted to have a fair in order to mark the occasion and to basically demonstrate their strengths to the rest of the nation and world and to claim their status as the crown city of the pacific. >> give us a sense of san francisco. this is more than a century ago now. the fire had ended, they were rebuilding the city. >> yes. >> what was the city like and how did men treat women in 1915? >> how did men treat women in the 1915s? probably depended on the man but san francisco is interesting because california actually had passed a suffrage amend in. 191.
so women had the right to vote in california by 1915, which they didn't necessarily have in the rest of the nation. >> that comes in 1920? >> yes, 1920 but some western state passed it on the state level before it was passed on the federal level so in some ways, certainly women in san francisco had more political options than they might have had in other parts of the country. but certainly by no means do we see the kinds of equality that we see now between women and men in san francisco or anywhere else, but san francisco was a very positive cosmopolitan. very diverse. quiet ethnically and racially diverse and that was reflected in the fair as it has been in the history of san francisco.
>> if you were to walk through that nine-month exposition what would you have seen, what would have stood out, who participated in this, what were the new technologies that were on display, the wares of these companies and countries? >> oh, wow, that's a huge question. one of the most famous wares was, there was a ford assembly line. you could see automobiles being made at the fair. they rolled off the assembly line periodically in one of the exhibit halls. other exhibit halls, there was an electrified house, so there was actually a huge -- not a
huge house, a dwelling that was all electric, and for consumers in 1915, this was a huge deal so imagine all the things that could, in fact, be run through the magic of electricity. and so that intrigued quite a lot of people who were at the fair. the fair was partly about products. marketing products obviously but also about culture. so there were many nations contributing exhibits, so there were foreign nations that had their own buildings, italy, argentina, japan, china, among others, sweden had a building. honduras. large numbers of nations, and those nations, home nation itself decided what was exhibited in that building, how they wanted to present themselves to the world, so visitors certainly could have gone and seen various different exhibits about japanese culture, japanese art. there was a model of a japanese temple, for instance, an enormous japanese garden. japan poured a lot of money into the fair, really trying to convey its status as an emerging world power, to visitors. the fair also included what we would call midway, so what came to be called the midway, it was called the zone in 1915. that was their name. after the panama canal zone, and it featured some ethnic villages, so places where, what
you might call colonized people, or people who were seen as primitive or less advanced were basically on display for visitors to observe. there was a short-lived village of somali people. another one of maui, and those people were essentially living their daily lives in front of visitors. not uncommon at world fairs at the time. one of the most famous things on the zone was actually a painting called stella, that supposedly breathed, and it was a painting of a nude woman, and it was a very, very famous, i mean, for no good reason because people could go to the fine arts building and see nude paintings, but supposedly she breathed as viewers looked at her and that gained quite a bit of attraction. >> sounds like a pretty big deal for those americans who traveled to san francisco. >> it was. it was. >> san francisco hosts another expo in 1939. >> yes. >> what changed from 1915 to 1939? >> tremendous amounts.
europe. and hitler is already invading nations across europe and outright war breaks out later in the summer. so the world is very different as far as international relations goes in 1939. technology has advanced quite a bit by 1939. there is a lot more movies, there is a lot more color reproductions of things. far more people have cars. there are huge parking lots. so the 1939 service held on treasure island, which was a manmade island created for the fair with wpa money, so part of the depression era new deal program is off of -- the island that the bay bridge goes through. it was actually built, part of the plan of the fair was that treasure island would eventually become the city's airport. now we know that didn't happen but it was supposed to be the airport and pan-am airways took off from there during the fair, so visitors could see this visual reminder of the connections between san francisco and the pacific world with the china clipper taking off overhead every few days. so a lot of fair is about emphasizing specific cultures, and the 1939 fair was called the pageant of the pacific, and it had a lot of sculpture and artwork and participation by nations of the pacific, which meant nations who bordered the
pacific ocean. >> that included a fair amount of chinese americans who lived and worked in san francisco. >> absolutely. >> what influence did they have on the history, culture of san francisco from the prism of your research and also on these two expos? >> sure, chinese population of san francisco was and continues to be a really important force in the city, and during both fairs, chinese and japanese were excluded from immigrating to the united states because the chinese exclusion law was passed in the 1880s and japanese exclusion was codified through an gentleman's agreement and by 1924, immigration law, it stopped immigration from asia completely. so both nations were not able to send new immigrants, new workers, immigrants to the fair, yet they were thriving communities in san francisco and the chinese community in particular participated in both fairs, in the first fair, one of the attractions on the zone that
i mentioned earlier, that midway area was called underground chinatown. part of the village and it was a re-creation of what chinatown looked like before the earthquake and it included every negative thing could you think of about chinese gamblers, prostitutes, opium dense, an essentially viewers were supposed to go in and supposedly experience real chinatown, as you can imagine, chinese residents were not very happy about this. so some local chinese residents, white sympathizers, who supported the chinese community, launched a letter writing campaign to officials and with the help of the chinese government commissioner to the fair, they eventually got that attraction closed. but it didn't mean there wasn't any anti-chinese sentiment anymore but they got that shut down. in 1939, china was already at war with japan, japan invaded china so china is deeply i am meshed in this war with japan so the government of china did not
send a delegation to the fair. they did not erect their own building but the local chinese community actually raised a great deal of money to erect their own chinese village, which was placed on -- also on the midway of the 1939 fair, which was then called the gateway, and they erected a huge chinese village with chinese acrobats, theater, artisans, producing traditional craft, in that way, the chinese communities was very much a part of that 1939 fair. >> you grew up in san francisco? >> i grew up in santa rosa, just north of san francisco. >> i want to go back to something earlier you se, fire of 1906, i know this isn't a direct part of your research but how devastating was that for the city and how did the city
rebuild that led to the 1915 expo? >> it was devastating. it was unprecedented for the city. they had had earlier fires but this was an enormous dispossession of land, of houses, loss of life was still under contention. people don't agree on how many lives were actually lost in the earthquake but the city rebuilt itself, and with a great deal of several some residents left and never came back. particularly after the american community, there weren't a lot of african-americans, many of them ended up staying there and not going back to san francisco. there was an effort to move china after the fire because chinatown was a prime downtown location in san francisco and as real estate increased in value, san francisco grew. it was clear it was a great location, but the chinese community, the business leaders had enough influence, that they were able to keep that from happening and were able to maintain their control, their
ownership of chinatown, but the city, rebuilding after the earthquake, was very difficult for a lot of people, absolutely. and people lived in these earthquake cottages for many years, actually, there were a few -- there are a few remaining today but part of preparing for the 1915 fair was ridding the area that would become the fair of some of those earthquake cottages, because there were still people down there living in these little cottages, and they were basically kicked out in order to build the fair because the fair was built in a neighborhood that was partly preexisting, and all of that was destroyed for the fair. >> are there any remnants of either fair around today? >> yes. in san francisco, the palace of fine arts is the one remaining building from the ppie. it's a reconstruction but it looks exactly the same.
it's on the marina, very famous iconic structure by bernard -- the architect, for a long time it housed the exploratorium, not any longer but housed exhibits over the years. that's the marina, and the 1939 fair, treasure island, still exists the island is still there and some of the buildings still exist, a lot of them were destroyed. a lot of the sculpture, the huge 80-foot tall pacifica sculpture was toppled, sadly, and there is an active museum association at treasure island that's trying to raise money for re -- for saving as much of that as possible.
there is ongoing preservation effort to try to safe as much of treasure island as they can. >> and one thing that we just learned in our conversation before we sat down, the world fair continues today, although maybe not here in the u.s. >> they do. most people are very surprised to learn that there are still world fairs today. the bureau of international exposition is the governing body and if you google them you can find out more. grounded in the 1920's and it's the official international body for sort of regulating these ex-positions. the u.s. has not hosted one since the 1980s but i've heard rumors that some agencies around the country are interested in the idea of a world fair, whether that will ever happen again, i don't know. julia: have been told there are various interests in the bay area that might be interested in a world fair. i don't know if it will happen. but there was one, a recent one in milan, there also have been some in china. >> let me conclude where we began in your area of research, gender issues, and world fairs. what did you learn? what have you learned and why did you take up this type of research? >> why di take up this type of research? i'm very interested in issues of race and gender, and i'm really
interested in the way that groups outside of elite power structure are able to wheeled power through sort of unexpected ways. and what i really love about fairs is that, there are so many different interest groups, so many different people who have an interest in them because they see the prospect for boosting their neighborhood or their political cause, their suffrage, the 1915 fair, by the way, who staged this big presence. so there are a lot of different interest groups, people who want to participate, and by examining that on a closer level, through whatever documents i could find it's really interesting to see the way that it helps us to understand a city or a state, political structure, i don't mean political structure like elected officials, but who has power, how is that power negotiated, and how are different groups able to draw on that to gain their own, to reach their own goals.
>> you're smiling, why? >> well, i'm just thinking, i was just thinking about how much i think that's still true today, and i think that, i think, that, what i see is cultural events that are actually -- he reveal a great deal about the community. there is so much effort and so much organization that needs to be put into hosting them, that it's often important for cooperate with the diverse variety of groups in order to make that work. and i think what i've learned the most about, to go back to your question about women is that certainly -- women's groups, women participated in fairs in many, many different ways. the 1893 chicago exposition is a fair that people know the most about. out in the midwest. it's the most famous fair and there was a woman's building, so often people said that's what it means for women to participate in fairs. talk about suffrage. and i would contend that there is a lot of other things that
you would look at and women are participating in fairs for political reasons that aren't necessarily associated with women's rights, suffrage or equality across the years, and that understanding their experiences help us understand something about culture and society at times. >> professor abigail, from carroll university, wisconsin, thank you very much for being with us. monday morning, watch our special world war i centennial. u.s. and france, 1918. a.m. eastern. of, thunder and flames. we look back 100 years to key battles in northeastern france where marines saw their first major contract.
died,han 10,000 americans would it, or open missing in the area. memorial day, starting at 9:00 a.m. eastern. on american history tv on c-span3. c-span, where history unfolds daily. created as aan was public service. today, we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events in washington dc and around the country. yourn is brought to you by cable or satellite provider. >> this weekend on american
artifacts, we look back on the american participation in world war i. here is a preview. when visitors walk through the gate, a lot of people are struck by how beautiful it is and how well-maintained it is work goes into it. the sites are maintained by u.s. government. there is at least one american manager at each of the sites. i think it is important for americans to realize that this is their taxpayer dollars at
work. it is not just the battle. peoplere that is what are having a hard time understanding. any of them who fell on the field are to my left ear. there has always been a connection to the french and americans. 1976, we see to the turnout of the first memorial days here. all the schoolchildren, although local officials.
>> who can watch the entire tour sunday on american artifacts. this is american history tv only on c-span3. this weekend on afterwards, former intelligence director with his book, fax and fears, our troops from a life in intelligence. weaknesses that has cy has today -- ic today? weakness this -- a that the commission came out with was the fact that the
community is not integrated collaboratively as it needed to be. they recommended the creation of a leadership position whose full-time job would be to foster acrossmote integration multiple components of the intelligence community. at one point, a law that was passed after the 9/11 commission , established position and there was talk at the time of creating a commission of intelligence. the civil privacy concerns and fears make that a mistake. for the united states and our
values, as awkward as it might be, you need to have a champion for keeping it integrated. >> watch afterwards. 2018 is the centennial year of u.s. participation in world war i. marking history tv is the program with programs that seek to understand and commemorate the great war. war iamerica," two world comment on films. when u.s. forces were helping the french stop a german offensive towards the capital. mr. moizan: i am guum