How the Panama Canal brought us Hotel Union Square.

Posted by Domitille Montoro on Thu, Apr 25, 2013 @ 02:13 PM

collage pan pacific resized 600After the big 1906 earthquake and the fire that followed, San Francicso became a pile of rubble. It needed to get back up quickly to show the whole world that the City was still alive. What better way than an International Exhibition to do so. World Fairs were extremely popular at the time and attracted visitors from around the world. A few years later began the development of many hotels and the various Palaces of the Pan Pacific International Exhibition, located on the newly land filled, Marina District.

Today the idea of having this kind of event seems a bit preposterous, but at the time it was a great way for people to gather from all over the world and showcase their scientific discoveries. The San Francisco 1915 Fair was homage to the construction of the Panama Canal, which was a monumental success of its own.

Among other historic technical achievements, the fair visitors were presented with the wonders of the time including, transportation, machinery and the latest developments in electrical devices. The first transcontinental phone call was done during the fair, it was the end of horse carriages and the real beginning of automobiles.    

The Palace of Fine Arts is one of the few remaining buildings from the exhibition and the only one still standing at its original place. It was saved from demolition by the perseverance of Phoebe Apperson Hearst and the Palace Preservation League she created at the time. This building, like the others was not supposed to last, so the entire Palace was rebuilt in 1965 with more durable materials. In 1969 it became the home of the Exploratorium. The new Exploratorium opened on April 17th on Pier 15 but San Franciscan’s dear Palace of Fine Art is still in place and will soon be home to something else. 

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We are proud to say that the first Personality Hotel, Hotel Union Square was built in 1913 for the 1915 Exhibition. Known as the Golden West Hotel when it opened, the Hotel changed names several times over the years but its spirit remains intact. As soon as you walk into the lobby you are welcomed by the two Egyptian inspired mosaics that have been keeping an eye on the hotel guests for 100 years and the art deco feel is still very present.The hotel is a visually stimulating fusion of contemporary and classic San Francisco - beautiful brick walls, signature staircases, and opulent moldings are complemented by a rich color palate. Next time you come to San Francisco, make sure you take a look at Hotel Union Square.



Tags: hotel union square, Palace of Fine Arts, Exploratorium, 1915 Pan Pacific International Exhibition

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