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In this episode, we explore the history of the gardens in San Diego’s iconic Balboa Park, as 2015 marks the centennial of the Park’s 1915 Panama California Exposition. By 1909, the 1200 acres set aside by the city 50 years earlier remained little more than dry, dusty chaparral. By 1915, it was a fantasyland of lush, exotic gardens surrounding buildings designed in elaborate Spanish Colonial architecture. How did that magical transformation come to be? We walk the park, and talk to the historians to learn about “The Garden Fair.” We hear how the Exposition promoted the city, the first port of call as ships sailed west through the Panama Canal, and how it also promoted the regions’ fledgling agriculture and horticulture industries. We imagine ourselves among the two million Exposition visitors who discovered a climate and landscape unlike anything seen before, and beloved by millions of San Diegans ever since.
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