Even though I had heard that Balboa Park in San Diego was the location where two major expositions had been held in the early 20th century, I didn’t realize that the buildings from these events were still in existence and being used to house a marvellous collection of 15 museums and cultural attractions. It is also the site of the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
But it was the architecture of El Prado, the main street of the park, which got my attention, with its beautiful Spanish Renaissance style incorporating ornate and intricate designs. Covered walkways along the buildings reflect the Spanish tradition of providing cool ways of strolling out of the heat of the sun.
Although not in the Spanish style, the Botanical Building has its own architectural fame, considered one of the world’s largest wood lath structures. It was built in 1915 and contains over 2,000 tropical plants.
Gardens and fountains abound in the courtyards and plazas, echoing the Spanish style popular in Seville. This is especially evident in the Alcazar Garden with its tiled fountains and enclosed flower beds.
Considering how many expositions are made up of temporary structures which are torn down after the event, it was neat to see these beautiful buildings being preserved. They provide a historic glimpse of what an exposition in 1915 and 1935 might have been like, but also provide a unique way of showcasing a fabulous cultural park.