Panama Pacific to Five Wounds Church
The Panama-Pacific International Exposition was the World’s Fair of 1915 celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal and showcasing San Francisco and its recovery from the ashes of the 1906 earthquake and fire and its world trade potential. After the exposition, the Portuguese Pavilion was torn down and the lumber used to construct Five Wounds Portuguese National Church in East San José.
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Following the failure of a French construction company in the 1880s, the United States commenced building a canal across a 50-mile stretch of the Panama isthmus in 1904, finishing in 1914.
Many came for the Gold Rush but few struck it rich. Ultimately, most settled into their adopted land and lives of hard work while others followed them in search of a better life.
Destroyed by earthquake and fire, San Francisco took just nine years to rebuild.
There was talk of hosting a World's Fair in San Francisco before the 1906 earthquake and fire that leveled large swaths of the city.
Determined to have Portugal represented at the exposition, Portuguese-American immigrants joined together and ultimately sent a delegation to Portugal to present their case.
Built in just five months, the Portuguese Pavilion and its exhibits represented the best of Portugal. All but the Palace of Fine Arts was dismantled after the ten months of exposition, but the Portuguese Pavilion was destined to live on in a different way.
Monsignor Henrique Augusto Ribeiro came to San José not knowing English and wanting to build a new town. His vision was not just to establish a Portuguese National Parish, but to create a Portuguese town in East San José.
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