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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • LE BALLON: 1883

Original Signers: 1921

Original Signers: 1921

        "We are signing the Victory Highway, San Francisco to N.Y."

San Francisco circa 1921. "White motor truck at Palace of Fine Arts -- California State Automobile Association." A project from the early days of long-distance motor travel, when auto clubs took the lead in establishing and marking routes between cities and across the country. 8x10 inch glass negative, formerly of the Wyland Stanley and Marilyn Blaisdell collections. View full size.

 

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It was sad

I first laid eyes on the original Palace in early 1960, and by that point it was in terrible condition, though one revelatory of its mode of construction: timber framework, lots of chicken wire, and plenty of stucco. The present replica cannot but be more durable, yet it is a miracle that the original survived long enough to garner support for its being more permanently replaced.

Much nicer

By comparison to the Grant truck a few days back, this is nearly a luxury vehicle. Snazzy, I say. Take me campin' grandpa!

PoFA today

The 1964 reproduction Palace of Fine Arts as I saw it on January 5 this year during a propitious golden hour break in a winter storm.

Still standing, sort of

The Palace of Fine Arts was built in 1915 as part of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition which celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal. As were all the structures for that event, it was made of non-durable materials, since the expectation was that the entire area would be cleared when the fair closed. The POFA was so beloved that the city decided to retain it, but it began to deteriorate almost immediately, as can be seen by the hole in its roof. The original was in near ruin by 1964 and was demolished that fall. It was then replaced with an exact replica made of steel and concrete. It still stands today and is still beloved---the site of many weddings and other ceremonial events.

Invisibility

Is the painting of Yosemite on the side of the truck a 1921 form of camouflage? Or is this perhaps the world's first hippie van? After all, it is San Francisco.

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