Banquet Piece, Pieter Claez

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Twenty-Two Splendid Fan Palms for the Midwinter Fair

Fan Palm at the Midwinter Fair (might be a Trachycarpus, not Washingtonia)
SFPL SF History Center
Left to right:
Manufacturers Building, other, Firth Wheel
In May 1893, John Rock of the California Nursery Company gave twenty-two fan palms to Golden Gate Park. The trees were more than 25 years old, so they were planted in 1868, just 3 years after Rock's Nursery was established. The Midwinter Fair opened in January 1894 running until July. Perhaps there are photos of the palms somewhere. Is this one?

SOME SPLENDID PALMS (San Francisco Call, May 22, 1893
Given to Golden Gate Park by John Rock. Two carloads of fanpalms were presented to Golden Gate Park last week by John Rock of San Jose. Though the palms filled two large flatcars, there were but twenty-two plants. They are splendid specimens of palms, each one being at least thirty feet in height. The palms were removed from the earth, so that nearly four cubic yards of soil remains undisturbed about the roots. This was necessary to insure their living. The trees are more than 25 years old and could not have borne transportation had the earth been shaken from the roots. 
They will be planted along the avenue leading from the lake to the aviary. Superintendent McLaren was highly pleased with the munificent gift of Mr. Rock. "I have seen the time," he said, "when each of those palms would be worth $500. As it is, such palms could not be purchased at all." Mr. Rock not only gave the plants to the park, but also paid the freight charges to this city.
Are there still some fan palms in Golden Gate Park from the Midwinter Fair? They would be 121 years old!

I went to David Rumsey to find out where "along the avenue leading from the lake to the aviary" would be. Perhaps the aviary was put back in the same location as it was before the fair. If that is the case this map shows it could be from Stowe Lake, along Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, up Nancy Pelosi Drive to the AIDS memorial Grove. Somewhere there.


Entrance to the Fine Arts Building,
From OAC
I think that this is a better image of the palm from the first picture.
Definitely not a Washingtonia!

Another picture of the palms around the Fine Arts Building.
Another picture of the columns pointing the other direction.

Another palm that was lucky to be there.
SF History Center, SFPL

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