National Geographic : 1915 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE golden coast exactly matches the poems of Joaquin Miller and tales of Bret Harte. Its wonder and mystery loom in those distant mountains. Any fortune might be hidden behind their barriers. Every point and inlet-San Diego, San Pedro, San Luis Obispo, Arguello, Con cepcion-recall the padres and bearded Dons. Sir Francis Drake, in company with two centuries of Spanish navigators, missed the Golden Gate. But times have changed, and today one can sail on a splendid ocean liner from New York through the Panama Canal to the Golden Gate in 17 happy days. Slipping through the heads one morning, should you come by water, you come suddenly upon a sight that causes you to rub your eyes and look again to make certain that it is not a page from the "Arabian Nights." CAN THINGS\ UNRIVALED BE PICTURED IN WORDS? How shall one describe it, this won derful city that is a fitting setting for the crowning jewel of all the expositions. A walled town of the Orient, its green and golden domes, mosaic towers, sculptures, arches, and old ivory facades loom in shimmering mists of color. The basic colors are blue and gold-the gold of Cal ifornia's hills, blue of her sunny skies and these were chosen wisely, for they belong to the Orient, where violent color is quickly toned by the sun to soft pastel shades. The pale greens are those of ice. Those swelling green domes might have been quarried from Sierra glaciers, the gold from California's mines. The limestone ranges of Monterey lay just such facades along the sea. The Mojave Desert inspired the ambers and those pale golds. Bound into a whole by the spell of color, the Exposition sits, indeed, like a great gem in its setting of street-crowned hills. Whether seen from above or viewed from the sea, the first effect is the same-of beauty, elusive, mysterious, aloof. Very fittingly, the California Host Building, which rambles in the happy mission fashion over five broad acres, stands on the "Marina," a beautiful es planade that runs for a couple of miles along the Golden Gate. Low and wide in the main, it rises in the center to upper stories with bell towers surmounting a chapel front that carries, somehow, a sug gestion of the desert pueblos. YESTERDAY AND TODAY Its back wall is almost washed by the tides- the same tides that brought Fa thers Cambon and Palou ashore in the boat of the San Carlos to establish the presidio and mission of St. Francis de Assisi two centuries ago. What a differ ence between this superb building and the block-houses and log chapel within a stockade they erected on this very spot! Yet it is the lineal descendant of the solid structures they erected later. Juni pero Serra would have delighted in this building. One almost looks to see him, with his friend and faithful lieutenant, Palou, pacing the cloisters that surround a flowering patio. The eight exhibition palaces are com modiously arranged in a vast quadrangle that is situated between two great ave nues and bisected down its length by a central avenue which is stopped at each end respectively by the gigantic Hall of Machinery and the Palace of Fine Arts. Looking down this central axis from the south end, the eye beholds a vision of courts and connecting Venetian gardens, court after court, seen through gigantic arches crowned with heroic groups, and stopped over half a mile away by the lovely Palace of Fine Arts. THE AWE OF PERFECT BEAUTY The vision excludes, at first, all else from the mind but the awe inspired by perfect beauty; and when it is ready to take cognizance of other things, the next great impression is of the surpassing fit ness, perfect coincidence of the event and the place. If you came by water, the long white wake of the ship down the Pacific to the canal remains fresh in your memory. If you came overland by any of the splendid scenic routes, then, seen through great arches, frequent glimpses of the Golden Gate compel perpetual recognition of the great economic fact behind all this beauty-the opening of the Panama Canal.