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A map of the Exposition.

The Golden Gate International Exposition (1939 and 1940), held at San Francisco, California's Treasure Island, was a World's Fair that celebrated, among other things, the city's two newly-built bridges. The San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge was dedicated in 1936 and the Golden Gate Bridge was dedicated in 1937. The exposition was opened initially from February 18, 1939 through October 29, 1939. It opened again from May 25, 1940 through September 29, 1940.

Treasure Island, a completely flat, artificial island attached to Yerba Buena Island, was built specifically for the Exposition near where the Oakland span and the San Francisco span of the Bay Bridge join. Built by the federal government, Treasure Island was to be an airport for Pan American Airline's Pacific Rim service of flying boats, of which the China Clipper is an example. Due to wartime needs, it was soon turned into a naval base, which was occupied by the US Navy from 1941 to 1997.[1]

The Theme of this Fair was "Pageant of the Pacific" primarily showcasing the goods of nations bordering the Pacific Ocean. The theme was physically symbolized by "The Tower of the Sun" and a giant, 80-foot statue of Pacifica, goddess of the Pacific ocean.

As the boundaries of human intercourse are widened by giant strides of trade and travel, it is of vital import that the bonds of human understanding be maintained, enlarged and strengthened rapidly. Unity of the Pacific nations is America's concern and responsibility; their onward progress deserves now a recognition that will be a stimulus as well.
Washington is remote from the Pacific. San Francisco stands at the doorway to the sea that roars upon the shores of all these nations, and so to the Golden Gate International Exposition I gladly entrust a solemn duty. May this, America's World's Fair on the Pacific in 1939, truly serve all nations in symbolizing their destinies, one with every other, through the ages to come.
- President Franklin D. Roosevelt, via radio, during the opening ceremonies.[2]

The San Francisco Downtown Association created the 49-Mile Scenic Drive to promote the exposition and the city. The drive started at San Francisco City Hall and ended on Treasure Island after winding around the picturesque "City by the Bay."

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway established a special passenger train, dubbed the Valley Flyer, specifically to shuttle passengers between Bakersfield and Oakland during the exposition. The Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad, Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, and the Western Pacific Railroad launched a jointly operated train called the Exposition Flyer between Chicago and Oakland. The Exposition Flyer was named for the Golden Gate International Exposition.


  1. ^ Treasure Island, American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company. March 1, 2004. accessed October 19, 2006.
  2. ^ James, Jack and Weller, Earle Vonard. Treasure Island, "The Magic City," 1939-1940; The Story of the Golden Gate International Exposition. Full text available from

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