It needs a little paint today, the exterior murals are gone and the plants aren’t hanging around any more, but Balboa Park’s San Diego Automotive Museum was built as the State of California’s exhibit for the 1935-36 California Pacific International Exhibition.

“International in scope, the world will visit the “City by the Silver Gate” to appraise “California at work” which is the general motif of the display in the spacious exposition palace dedicated to the Golden State,” said the story under the byline of Edward J. Neron, Assistant Director of the California Public Works.

This contemporary look at this exhibit was published in the May, 1935 edition of California Highways and Public Works magazine, which was published by the California Department of Public Works.

The story notes that the building’s exhibits are under the direction of one Orville Goldner, “an authority on art technique of the theatre and screen, is noted for his creative genius in the production of great movie spectacles, having been
associated with large studios for many years.”

Yes, he did… he was one of the artists that worked on the 1933 King Kong.

The building was a “architectural triumph in combining early American Mayan and Aztec style with modern construction…”

They didn’t mince words back in the day.


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