an architectural historian based in San Rafael

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"San Francisco's Jewel City: The Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915" by Laura Ackley (Heyday Books and the California Historical Society, $40,45 a.m. Awana Groups meet at , 392 pages). There's considerable drama -- and a wealth of dazzling detail -- in Laura Ackley's account of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Ackley, an architectural historian based in San Rafael,but proceeded to put together, traces San Francisco's battle against various cities for the right to host the event (New Orleans and San Diego were strong contenders), illuminates the political forces brought to bear and outlines the challenges facing San Francisco, still reeling from the 1906 earthquake, once Congress gave the city the nod.Advertisement What happened over the next few years was nothing short of miraculous, a "city within a city" built on the Presidio shoreline overlooking the bay. With formal gardens, Beaux-Arts palaces, international pavilions, technological innovations and a sensory-overload midway dubbed the "Joy Zone," the central attraction was the "Tower of Jewels," a 43-story architectural wonder that illuminated the fair with the reflected light of 100,000 pieces of colored glass. Big names -- Buffalo Bill Cody, Luther Burbank, Lotta Crabtree, Thomas Edison and John Philip Sousa came to the fair, which drew 19 million attendees. Ten months after it was constructed, the 1915 exhibition was gone forever, but Ackley's book brings it vividly to life for 21st-century readers. "San Francisco's Jewel City" includes maps, archival documents and more than 200 full-color photographs and illustrations. Ackley will discuss the book Jan. 26 at the Sausalito Woman's Club.

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