One hundred years ago this month, San Francisco was buzzing with the biggest event in its history. The Panama Pacific International Exhibition featured new inventions, animals, daredevils, art and dozens of beautiful palaces and gardens built just for the event. Well, one hundred is one heck of a birthday, so this weekend SF is throwing the party of the century to celebrate—and everyone is invited!

Photo: PPIE100

A Party at The Palace
This Saturday, February 21, the celebration kicks off at noon with Community Day at the Palace of Fine Arts—one of the few remaining structures built for the original fair. At this free event little makers will love exploring the Palace, which will be transformed into the Innovation Hangar for the run of the fair. It will be filled with new inventions and prototypes from the world’s most innovative companies, and hands-on educational activities and exhibitions from your favorite museums, including the Bay Area Discovery Museum, Smithsonian and the Tech Museum. Also under the dome will be the exhibition “City Rising: San Francisco and the 1915 World’s Fair,” which tells the story of the original event through historical photos, stories and other memorabilia, so the whole family can brush up on the SF history.

Photo: Ed Uthman via Flickr

Back to The Future
Everyone who’s anyone will be at the party, including some special guests from way, way back—Buffalo Bill Cody, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Henry Ford, Charlie Chaplin, Michael H De Young, and aviator Art Smith. The littles will love seeing an original 1915 Ford Model T, and they will even have a chance to sit in a Wells Fargo stagecoach and get old timey photographs taken. If firetrucks are their thing, don’t miss the trio of original 100-year-old fire engines on display from the last Exposition.

Photo: Kowit Phothisan

Uke Gotta See This
There will be no shortage of entertainment, including performances by the Academy Of Hawaiian Arts, Emeryville Taiko, Nemenzo Polynesian Dance Company and San Francisco Opera. But the big show starts at 3 p.m., when hundreds of Ukulele players will gather under the dome for the Uke-a-Thon. Got a uke yourself? Bring it along and join in the symphony, which will be led by famous ukulele players from around the world. Why the ukulele you ask? The mini string instrument was introduced to America at the 1915 World’s Fair, and, well, the rest is history.

Photo: Courtesy of

After Dark
Once the sun sets, guests will be transported back to 1915. The grounds will be set aglow with thousands of twinkling lights, and you can even enjoy an outdoor film. Designers tried to replicate the look and feel of an evening at the fair a century ago, and after a day of looking back in history, you might just start to feel like it’s actually 1915. Stroll through the picturesque park from 7-10 p.m. on Saturday (or you can come for an early sneak peak on Friday evening) to take best advantage of the light show.

Good to Know: The Celebration continues all year long. Check the PPIE100 website or follow them on Facebook to see what other awesome events they have planned for the rest of the year.

PPIE100 Community Day
Saturday, February 21
Noon-10 p.m.
Palace of Fine Arts
3301 Lyon St.
San Francisco, CA 94123

—Erin Feher

How much do you know about the 1915 World’s Fair? Will you attend the anniversary celebration?


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