Image: Rick Helf www.helf.com
Celebrate two of San Francisco's great World's Fairs in one awesome bike ride as NOPA VELO launches its second year of distinctive, thematic spins through the neighborhood and beyond this Sunday morning. Join the NOPA VELO cyclists at one of our favorite cafes for the much-needed power-up and then kick off seeking the lions and sphinxes of Golden Gate Park.
On August 24, 1893 San Franciscans gathered to cheer the first shovel-full of earth turned for the start of construction of the California Mid-Winter International Exposition. Michael de Young, publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle, hoped to attract new settlers by extolling the midwinter climate of California, the land of sunshine. (Ummm, ok). Today's Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park featured four exotic exhibition halls with the style and design of the Middle and Far East. More than 72,000 people flocked to the park for opening day ceremonies on January 27, 1894. NOPA VELO riders will stop by the few reminders of the city's first world's fair: the bronze lion and pair of sphinxes near the de Young Museum, the Wine Press statue, the bronze Roman Gladiator, and the Japanese Tea Garden.
Spinning out of Golden Gate Park riders will head cross-town to the site of the even grander Panama Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) of 1915. When fair organizers proposed returning to Golden Gate Park once again, local folks objected in their very San Francisco way. The city had barely recovered from the 1906 Earthquake and Fire with refugee camps situated all over the park, and advocates wanted to protect the city's prize park. Instead, the promoters filled in the mudflats of what was known then as the Harbor View District -- and today is the Marina District -- to construct an architectural fantasia with a 43-story Tower of Jewels in the center. One of the most beloved structures was the Palace of Fine Arts designed by Bernard H. Maybeck. NOPA VELO riders will visit the newly renovated Palace 95 years and seven days after the official PPIE opening.
If you haven't stopped by either World's Fair site lately, this ride will be a treat, especially to see the makeover at the Palace. Join NOPA VELO for a fine ride through the city with one long climb and one sweeping descent (but all very manageable) followed by lunch at NOPA's own Ziryab Grill on Divisadero at about noon.
NOPA VELO Lions to Maidens World's Fair Ride
Sunday, February 27
9:30 am - Meet at Central Coffee, Tea & Spice, corner Central & Hayes
10:00 am - Ride begins
All level riders welcome. Kids on own bikes OK if with guardian.
Pets too if on bike or leash.
Info: Lenore at 415-300-6744, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Updates and pics @ BIKE NOPA: ibikenopa.blogspot.com
Special thanks to Robert Ehler Blaisdell's fine evocation of these expositions in San Francisciana Photographs of Three World Fairs. (Marilyn Blaisdell, Publisher, 1994, San Franicsco).