Panama-Pacific International Exposition

San Francisco, California, 1915


  "In 1915, Martin Couney organized an impressive exhibit at the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. Here 'the tiny tots that had tried to begin life too soon and had to be kept in warm glass chambers awhile so they could get a better start, excited the sympathy of thousands.' A constant stream of visitors of every age and condition visited the show. (The concession took in over $72,000 during the ten-month run of the exhibition.)"

-- from Incubator-Baby Side-Shows, by William A. Silverman.

"The guidebook of the fair noted:

"The appeal of the helplessness of the unconscious mites of humanity rescued and thriving in spite of adverse fate reaches alike the specialist and the careless sightseer who may learn here the particulars of nourishment, nurture and care given these incubator babies. The concession may be described as educational and, in these days of awakening to social service and duty to humanity some study of the methods pursued in working out late discoveries and theories, is well worth while."

-- from Incubator-Baby Side-Shows, by William A. Silverman.

Above: A postcard of the incubator exhibit building.

Above: A night panorama of the exposition.

Above: A map of the exposition. The Palace of Fine Arts still stands today, but most of the other buildings were destroyed or moved after the exposition ended. The "Zone" (amusement park) is on the right end of the map.

Above: A more detailed map of the Fun Zone, showing the location of the Incubator Baby exhibit.

Above: The Baby Incubator building under construction. Photo from the San Francisco Public Library historical collection.

Above: The Baby Incubator building in its finished state for the Exhibition. Photo from the San Francisco Public Library historical collection.

"The Infant Incubators Exhibit on the Zone. Created to educate the general public, this exhibit demonstrated that with proper treatment babies with weak constitutions could be strong and healthy. To lend color to the enterprise, five storks were brought from Budapest to live in the hospital gardens."

-- from San Francisco Invites The World, by Donna Ewald and Peter Cluter, p. 122.

The Panama-Pacific International Exposition, National Park Service
History of the Panama-Pacific Exposition, on the Centennial web site
Photo Gallery at OpenSFHistory

Created 4/6/2002 / Last modified 10/8/2021
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