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Empress San Francisco

The Pacific Rim, the Great West, and California at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition

Abigail M. Markwyn

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 10/2014
Pages: 392
Subject: History
eBook ISBN: 9780803267824


When the more than 18 million visitors poured into the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) in San Francisco in 1915, they encountered a vision of the world born out of San Francisco’s particular local political and social climate. By seeking to please various constituent groups ranging from the government of Japan to local labor unions and neighborhood associations, fair organizers generated heated debate and conflict about who and what represented San Francisco, California, and the United States at the world’s fair. The PPIE encapsulated the social and political tensions and conflicts of pre–World War I California and presaged the emergence of San Francisco as a cosmopolitan cultural and economic center of the Pacific Rim.   Empress San Francisco offers a fresh examination of this, one of the largest and most influential world’s fairs, by considering the local social and political climate of Progressive Era San Francisco. Focusing on the influence exerted by women, Asians and Asian Americans, and working-class labor unions, among others, Abigail M. Markwyn offers a unique analysis both of this world’s fair and the social construction of pre–World War I America and the West.    


Abigail M. Markwyn is an associate professor of history at Carroll University. She is the coeditor of Gendering the Fair: Histories of Women and Gender at World's Fairs.


“San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 was a signal event for imagining the Pacific Rim in the early years of the twentieth century. Markwyn’s wonderful book makes clear that the fair was also a defining moment for the political culture of San Francisco. Hers is a finely crafted analysis and a well-told story of a city-state in the making.”—Robert Rydell, author of All the World’s a Fair and World of Fairs

“By taking a new look at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915, Abigail Markwyn provides an important addition to the existing literature on world’s fairs in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Her major contribution is to explore the ways in which San Francisco’s ethnic, class, and gender groups developed their own counternarratives and, sometimes just by their presence, posed a challenge to the dominant views.”—Robert W. Cherny, author of American Politics in the Gilded Age, 1868–1900