Labor relations during the run up to and duration of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915 have been called the “Pax Panama Pacifica” thanks to unwritten agreements between fair planners and key labor unions in San Francisco. Fair planners intended to use the exposition to declare California’s ascendance as an economic stronghold in the Pacific, but the staging of it involved work that was inexorably bound with local, domestic, class, race, and gender conflicts in the Progressive Era. This article looks at why avoiding labor strife was critical to fair organizers’ objectives, and examines in particular the groups for whom the peace did not hold: unskilled workers, women, people of color, and foreign performers.

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