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The San Diego World's Fairs and Southwestern Memory, 1880-1940

Matthew Bokovoy

Publication Year: 2005

In the American Southwest, no two events shaped modern Spanish heritage more profoundly than the San Diego Expositions of 1915-16 and 1935-36. Both San Diego fairs displayed a portrait of the Southwest and its peoples for the American public.

The Panama-California Exposition of 1915-16 celebrated Southwestern pluralism and gave rise to future promotional events including the Long Beach Pacific Southwest Exposition of 1928, the Santa Fe Fiesta of the 1920s, and John Steven McGroarty's The Mission Play. The California-Pacific International Exposition of 1935-36 promoted the Pacific Slope and the consumer-oriented society in the making during the 1930s. These San Diego fairs distributed national images of southern California and the Southwest unsurpassed in the early twentieth century.

By examining architecture and landscape, American Indian shows, civic pageants, tourist imagery, and the production of history for celebration and exhibition at each fair, Matthew Bokovoy peels back the rhetoric of romance and reveals the legacies of the San Diego World's Fairs to reimagine the Indian and Hispanic Southwest. In tracing how the two fairs reflected civic conflict over an invented San Diego culture, Bokovoy explains the emergence of a myth in which the city embraced and incorporated native peoples, Hispanics, and Anglo settlers to benefit its modern development.

Published by: University of New Mexico Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-8

List of Illustrations

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pp. viii-x


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pp. xi-xiv

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Preface: The Spanish Heritage

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pp. xv-xx

“An interest in mission ruins and Indian relics has been known to lead to an interest in Mexicans and Indians,” wrote Carey McWilliams with optimism in North from Mexico: The Spanish-Speaking People of the United States, his 1949 book about the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Although he despaired it would never be, McWilliams believed a more critical southwestern cultural history could become an agent for national civil rights and...

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Prologue: San Diego and the Spanish Colonial Inheritance

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pp. 1-14

“Fages would not give this mission more than one-half of half a cuartillo of corn for the Indians from the Californias,” complained Fray Luís Jayme to Fray Rafael Verger, O.F.M., guardian of the College of San Fernando in Mexico City in October 1772. Jayme was head cleric of the San Diego mission. He experienced difficulty bringing new Indian converts...

I. History as Myth: The Panama-California Exposition, 1915–1916

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1. Southern California Gets the Panama Exposition

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pp. 17-48

“We have decided to make this exposition different in character from any other,” thundered D. C. Collier, director-general of the San Diego Panama-California Exposition. He sat confidently in front of the United States House Committee on Industrial Arts and Expositions and persuaded its members that San Diego’s exposition would “work out the...

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2. Planning a Southwestern Exposition, 1915

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pp. 49-79

In late 1911, construction of the Panama-California Exposition began in City Park, which was renamed “Balboa Park” in 1910 after Vasco Núñez de Balboa, the conqueror of Panama and Central America. Through these efforts, the physical form and theme of the fair moved from imagination to completion. The Southern California exposition...

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3. "The Peers of their White Conquerors"

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pp. 80-113

“The reason why this Exposition appeals with such overpowering force to the imagination of the visitor may not at once be apparent,” wrote William H. Holmes in the fall 1915 issue of Art and Archeology. The San Diego fair was not “stupendous as the international expositions, but an achievement far removed from these and possible only in the Southwest.”1...

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4. "A Heritage in History, Forever"

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pp. 114-140

“You’re homesick,” explained Jesse Nusbaum to María Martínez as she sat silently forming matte black earthenware at the Painted Desert exhibition. Martínez realized, “That’s it. I’m sick for home, here in my heart.” Nusbaum had hired two Pueblo families to help build the adobe “pseudopueblos,” those of Julian and María Martínez and their...

II. Myth as History: The California-Pacific International Exposition, 1935–1936

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5. The Legacies of 1915: The San Diego Century-of-Progress Exposition, 1935–1936

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pp. 143-164

The Panama-California Exposition created the cultural institutions of Balboa Park, which were bequeathed to citizens and visitors for eternal enjoyment. When the exposition closed, George Marston, Edgar Hewett, and members of the business community formed the San Diego Museum Association. The exhibitions acquired by the School of...

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6. "The Answer Is to Be Found in Those Yesteryears and Tomorrows"

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pp. 165-194

The California-Pacific International Exposition opened on May 29, 1935, to crowds numbering in the tens of thousands, despite the hard economic times. On display for all to see were the federal government’s recovery efforts for the American West and corporate America’s designs for material abundance in Southern California. Similar to many...

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7. Popular Amusements and the Fight for Moral Authority in Southern California

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pp. 195-221

In June 1965, San Diego Magazine published the 1935 San Diego fair memories of Sam Erwine, the great-grandson to a San Diego mayor. As a teenager during the uncertain 1930s, Erwine remembered little about the “official fair,” the efforts of the federal government and American business to deliver the culture of abundance to Southern California. He explained...

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Epilogue: Spanish Fantasy Heritage, Social Politics

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pp. 222-226

“Serra was a Baby Killer,” “Genocidal Maniac,” and “Murderous Lying Scum” adorned the statues of Presidio Park in the form of graffiti. These words greeted crowds on September 25, 1988, to celebrate Father Junípero Serra’s advance toward sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church. “It saddens and angers me,” said Eleanor Neely...


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pp. 227-282


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pp. 283-304


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pp. 305-316

E-ISBN-13: 9780826336446
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826336422

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2005