William Kettner

William Kettner

In 1909 the San Diego Panama-California Exposition was proposed. Work began in 1910, but it took the legislation of Congressman William Kettner (1864-1930) to obtain recognition of the federal government for the project. San Francisco announced it would sponsor an exposition, to be called the Panama-Pacific Exposition, at the same time. San Francisco reported it would be economic suicide for San Diego to pursue its idea and recommended the southern city drop its plans. The federal government, in addition, seemed to favor San Francisco by formally inviting Latin American countries to participate in its exposition. With Kettner’s intervention, the situation was resolved. Both cities held their expositions and, at the close of San Francisco’s event, Kettner introduced a bill, passed in Congress, to transfer $76,000 of unexpended funds, as well as most of the government’s exhibits, to San Diego.

In his 1923 book Kettner wrote “In my long residence in Southern California in San Diego I cannot recall anything that aided San Diego so much and so directly as the 1915-1916 Exposition, and I am very happy to state that I had a small part in making this wonderful fair a success.”

…adapted from Lucille Clark Duvall, “William Kettner: San Diego’s dynamic congressman,” The Journal of San Diego History, 1979, v25, n3 and the book by William Kettner, Why It Was Done and How, 1923, San Diego, Frye & Smith