Driving the LH in 1919 ~ part 9, Pacific Ocean

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO

It’s early September, 1919, and our cross-country travelers have finally reached San Francisco. The LHA had aimed to complete improving and marking its highway for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915; just four years later, almost nothing remained of that grand world’s fair.

However, one odd connection to the fair remains: the California Palace of the Legion of Honor (now simply The Legion of Honor Museum) famously marking the end of the Lincoln Highway is a full-scale replica of the French Pavilion from the 1915 Expo, which itself was a 3/4-scale version of the Palace of the Legion of Honor in Paris.

And now back to Beatrice Massey and her book, It Might Have Been Worse: A Motor Trip from Coast to Coast:

“The next day we were in the thick of the whirl. I did not consider our trip really ended until we stood on the sands of the Pacific. We motored through the city, out to the former Exposition grounds, where but a few buildings were left standing, and to the Presidio, one of the oldest military stations in our country, embracing an area of 1542 acres, overlooking the harbor….

“Driving through Lincoln Park, we entered Golden Gate Park, covering 1013 acres, with hundreds of varieties of plant life from all parts of the world, artificial lakes, boulevards, and the gorgeous flowers for which California is famed….

Cliff-House-3-JAM.jpg

The third and current Cliff House, built 1909. [NPR]

“The park extends to the Ocean Beach Boulevard, on the edge of the sands, where the breakers come bounding in against the Seal Rocks and the high promontory on which the Cliff House stands. The water is cold, and a dangerous undertow makes bathing unsafe, but the shore is lined with cars; hundreds of people and children are on the sand, and the tame sea-gulls are walking on the street pavement very much like chickens.

“We went up to the historic Cliff House, the fourth of the name to be built on these rocks. Since 1863, the millionaires of this land and the famous people of the world have dined here, watching the sea-lions play on the jagged reefs. It is closed now, and looks as deserted as any of the tumble-down old buildings which surround it.”

The Cliff House was actually just the third, opened in 1909. It was closed in 1918 after a government order halted sale of liquor “within a half mile of military installations,” soon to be followed by Prohibition. Nonetheless that same building still greets tourists to this day.

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