Monday, April 13, 2009

San Diego 1936: The Exposition's Second Season.....

After the close of a successful 5-1/2 month long 1935 season, it was decided to re-open the California-Pacific International Exposition for a second season. Numerous changes were made to the grounds, buildings, attractions, and night illumination to create a totally new experience for 1936. Along the Avenida de Palacios a majority of the Blackwood acacia trees were removed to provide better views of the buildings, and additional landscaping was added. Many new exhibits were also introduced, and the House of Charm was re-named the Palace of International Art, and the Palace of Photography became the Palace of Medical Science. Within the House of Hospitality, the second floor loggia, located at the west side of the central patio, was enclosed with large glass doors; and the rear portion of the Casa del Rey Moro Café was enlarged to provide more indoor dining space. The most noticeable changes were made to the Palisades section, located south-west of the Avenida de Palacios. The Plaza de America was completely re-designed with a double-row of Queen Palms planted at either side, bordering a vast garden of multi-colored flowers; and the Firestone Fountains were replaced with the new Rainbow Fountains. Several buildings were also re-named and a majority of new exhibits added. The Palace of Travel, Transportation and Water became the Palace of Electricity and Water; the Standard Oil Tower to the Sun was re-named the Standard Oil Natural Parks Tower; the Hollywood Motion Picture Hall of Fame became the Palace of Entertainment; and the Palace of Electricity and Varied Industries was changed to the General Exhibits Building. At the south end of the Plaza de America, the large Ford Motor Company Building was transformed into the Palace of Transportation. Ford had relocated their extensive exhibits to the Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas, so the building's interior was re-designed to house an exhibit showing the history of transportation, from primitive times to the present. At the north-east portion of the grounds, the former site of the Casa de Tempo became a children's amusement area known as Enchanted Land; and the center section of Spanish Village was transformed into a large open patio. The Zocalo was re-designed in a moderne-style, surrounding a large landscaped plaza; and included completely new attractions such as "Hollywood Secrets" (showing modern technology used in making movies), the Danse Follies (a musical extravaganza), Big Top Circus (a revised midget show), Strange as it Seems (replacing Ripley's Believe it or Not), and the "Days of '49 Stockade" (replacing the ribald Gold Gulch). Despite much controversy, the Zoro Gardens nudist colony was retained due to its generation of revenue for the exposition. Dramatic new night lighting was introduced for the 1936 season, which used mobile-lighting to paint the buildings and trees in a vast spectrum of changing colors. Unique lighting was also added to Palm Canyon and the Alcazar Gardens which created a "firefly effect" surrounding the landscaping; and a revolving beacon, located atop the tower of the Palace of Science, flashed beams of white light visible for sixty-miles. Facing the Plaza de America, the Palace of Transportation was illuminated in translucent-blue, topped by a glowing gold rim; and further enhanced by the Rainbow Fountains, which displayed ever-changing patterns of water in misty multi-colored sprays.

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