Monday, February 2, 2009

San Diego 1915: El Prado.....

Continuing east from the 1,000 foot long Puente Cabrillo was the Panama-California Exposition's main thoroughfare, El Prado. Designed with the character of a principal Spanish street, El Prado was flanked by landscaped esplanades, planted with lawns, flowers, and shrubbery, and formally lined with Blackwood acacia trees, each pruned to the shape of a dome. Between the acacias, next to the curbs, were placed ornate bronze-green colored light standards, topped with dome-shaped globes. Long arcades lined the avenue, and featured broad arches, iron railings, and numerous benches for seating. The arcade floors and walkways were paved with rolled reddish-brown sandstone; and the arcade ceilings were painted a salmon-pink, to reflect a soft indirect light from the ornate lighting fixtures suspended beneath. The general color of the twelve exposition buildings along El Prado was a pearl-gray, with overhanging roofs of terra-cotta Mission-tile, railings and window frames painted dark green, and towers topped with brightly colored polychrome tiles. Three main plazas were located along El Prado, and provided relief to the narrow avenue. The Plaza de California was at El Prado's western end, and filled the area between the California State Building, and the adjoining Fine Arts Building. Located at the opposite end of the avenue was the Plaza de Balboa, adjoining the Southern California Counties Building, at the east entrance to the exposition grounds. Placed at the center portion of El Prado was the spacious Plaza de Panama, which served as the exposition's main festival and entertainment area. By night the exposition buildings were illuminated by the numerous lighting standards which lined El Prado. The soft light, filtering through the Blackwood acacias, cast a mellow glow upon the walls of the buildings and created shadows from the heavy ornamentation, broad archways, and various architectural projections.

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