Cardenell Vincent Co. Sepiatone Panoramic Photograph Palace of Fine Arts San Francisco 1915 P838

The Palace of Fine Arts is still almost more of an apparition than architecture, a dream building. This period photograph, taken when it was new, adds another layer of enchantment to it.

$550.00. We thought we had lost this in our recent remodel, but alas, it is found again – and available for you!

Cardinell Vincent Co.

Cardinell Vincent was a prominent publisher in San Francisco in the early 1900’s and published views of California via many different printers. Most of their cards were printed in Germany like most postcard companies in their era. They were chosen as the official photographers of the Panama Pacific International Exposition in 1915.


Widely considered the most beautiful structure at the exhibition, the Palace of Fine Arts — housing art from Renaissance to Modern — was the work of California architect Bernard Maybeck. Maybeck’s fantastic creation, inspired by a Piranesi engraving, featured a Roman ruin reflected in a pool. According to Maybeck, this ruin existed not for its own sake but to show “the mortality of grandeur and the vanity of human wishes.” Like other features of the fair, the Palace was intended as ephemeral; at the close of the exposition, it would come down.

On opening day, February 20, 1915, 255,149 people walked through the entry gates to experience the first world event of the 20th century. By the time the exposition closed nine months later, more than 18 million people — about 20 times the population of San Francisco at the time — would visit the exposition. And when this spectacular festival came to a close with fireworks and a solitary bugler playing taps, by all accounts, the crowds wept.

But when the exposition ended, the Palace lived on — saved from demolition by the Palace Preservation League, founded by Phoebe Apperson Hearst while the fair was still in progress. Today the Palace of Fine Arts is the last reminder of a great gathering that welcomed the world back to San Francisco, and it continues to hold a special place in the hearts of Bay Area residents and visitors. The Palace is truly a landmark to love.