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About these Stereographs

Origin of the Originals

PPIE stereograph caseThe original set of stereographs which were used for these web pages belongs to the Moffitt family. My former husband's grandparents, Dr. and Mrs. Herbert C. Moffitt, Sr., purchased them at the time of the exposition, in 1915. They lived at 1818 Broadway, between Gough and Franklin St. in San Francisco, just up the hill from the fair. My husband's aunt, Alice Moffitt Trapnell, told me that she used to visit the fair every day. That may have been an exaggeration, but to a 10 year old it would have been an exciting time. Unfortunately, she has since died and we are unable to ask her for a first hand account of her trips to the fair.

About the Images and Captions

This set has been well used. Some of the originals are faded or stained. When we converted them to digital images it was hard to decide whether to be true to their current appearance or to enhance them. In most cases they are not enhanced. Since many internet users do not yet have access to highspeed connections, the images have been converted to a lower resolution so that they will load faster.

The text on the cards has been transcribed exactly as written. Some of the language sounds as if it were written to fill the space on the back of the card. In other cases the grammar is awkward if not incorrect by today's standards. The descriptions of landscaping, the lighting of the Tower of Jewels, and some of the exhibits may sound like hyperbole or caricatures of a travel guide. The viewer was meant to feel as if he had spent a virtual day at the fair.

Why Did I Do It?

Bess looking through a viewerI was fortunate enough to live in the Marina, a neighborhood of San Francisco known primarily for the devastating 1989 earthquake. Among its other charms is the architectural wonder designed by Bernard Maybeck, the Palace of Fine Arts, rebuilt as the only surviving building of the Panama Pacific International Exposition. You can learn more about that from The Exploratorium's wonderful history of the Palace.

The dome of the Palace was visible from my flat. I have seen the dome and the ladies surrounding it at virtually every time of the day and night (as well as in all seasons and all kinds of light) for the many years that I have lived in the Marina. It is impossible not to be fascinated by its history.

More Motivation

This project would not have been possible without the support of the wonderful librarians at the Learning Commons at The Exploratorium, or the talented Ron Hipschman who taught me how to convert the scanned pictures to anaglyphs using Photoshop. Ron was responsible for some of the more creative aspects of these pages.

In fact, it was Ron and Rose Falanga who thought up this project as a way of preserving the images and making them available over the internet. It appealed to the librarian in me, so eight months (and a few volunteer hours) later here they are.

Thank You

Finally, thanks to my patient daughters Mary Alice and Katherine who never complained about all of the time I spent at the Learning Commons up to my ears in BBEdit and Photoshop.


©2001 Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon Street, San Francisco, CA 94123