Preparations for the fair – a commemoration of the Panama Canal's opening – are largely responsible for shaping the park into what it is today, including many of the Spanish-Renaissance-style buildings and walkways.
City-wide celebrations are happening throughout 2015 in honor of the centennial, but here's a list of special events and exhibits to keep an eye out for this summer as you explore Balboa Park.
The San Diego Natural History Museum — Photo courtesy of Richard Benson / Balboa Park
Twilight in the Park
From June 16 through August 27, enjoy free concerts in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion between 6:15 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
Prior to some of the concerts, there will be activities reflecting the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, such as antique cars, children's activities, costumes and more.
Centennial International Summer Organ Festival
The Spreckels Organ Society and San Diego Civic Organist Carol Williams present an inspiring series of 11 concerts performed by world-class organists. The performances are designed to showcase the sound of the infamous 100-year-old Spreckels Organ.
Join concerts at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion each Monday evening from June 22 through August 31, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Centennial Railway Garden
The San Diego Model Railroad Museum is showcasing a model of what Balboa Park looked like in 1915, including the Class 1 street cars that John D. Spreckels – owner of the San Diego Electric Railway Company – commissioned to help transport visitors to the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.
Botanical Building Centennial Tours
Docents will lead 45-minute tours of origins, design and horticulture of this historic building. Tours are given on the second and fourth Friday of each month at 11 a.m. Meet at the lily pond to join.
Masterworks: Art of the Exhibition Era
The San Diego History Center has gathered over 80 pieces that showcase the cultural impact of this World's Fair on San Diego. Some of these pieces were actually displayed at the 1915 Panama-California Exposition!
San Diego Invites the World: The 1915 Expo
Also at the San Diego History Center, this interactive exhibit recreates the awe that drew over four million visitors through rare silent footage, historic photos and other memorabilia.
Souvenirs and Keepsakes: Memorabilia of the 1915 and 1935 Expositions
The Marston House displays personal objects that were collected from the expos, such as buttons, pennants, postcards, coins and jewelry, some of which have been handed down through generations.
Garden of Unity: Balboa Park's Japanese Legacy
The Japanese Friendship Garden partnered with the Japanese American Historical Society to create a documentary that examines historical events that have shaped the Japanese American community in Balboa Park throughout the last 100 years.
The year-long showcase features lectures and a series of photos captured in the park, highlighting the Japanese community.