Before the Midwinter Fair: The Mechanics’ Institute Industrial Expositions, 1857–1899
Tuesday, July 9, 2019 @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Between 1857 and 1899, the Mechanics’ Institute hosted 31 industrial exhibitions that bolstered California’s infant economy, encouraged the demand for local goods, and whetted the public’s appetite for elaborate events. The fairs of 1869 and 1871 were pioneering efforts to encourage trade relationships with China, Japan, British Columbia, the Hawaiian Islands, Mexico, Chile, Peru, and the neighboring states. The fairs also introduced the exotic cultures and products of the Far East to curious citizens of the Bay Area. Ultimately, the Mechanics’ Institute’s industrial exhibitions lay the seeds for larger international expositions such as the California Midwinter Fair of 1894, the Panama Pacific Exposition of 1915, and the Golden Gate Exposition of 1939.
Taryn Edwards is a librarian and the strategic partnerships manager for the Mechanics’ Institute of San Francisco. She hosts events for the library, works with other non-profits to achieve mutual goals, and leads popular historical tours of the Institute. She is writing a biography of Andrew Smith Hallidie.
SFHS monthly programs are free to members. Non-member fee is $10, which may be applied to membership dues within 30 days; $5 for non-member seniors, students, K–12 teachers, and people with disabilities. Programs are normally scheduled on the second Tuesday of each month, except August and December. Programs are subject to change, so please check for updates at sfhistory.org.
Roosevelt Middle School features on-site parking (enter on Palm Avenue) and public transportation nearby.