BUT THERE WAS one man in San Francisco who was not in a better frame of mind. John McLaren, Superintendent of Golden Gate Park, had strenuously objected to the entire scheme of staging a world's fair in the midst of his fragile new park, begun on April 4, 1870. He watched with dismay as newly planted areas were torn up for power and water lines. Buildings were constructed in an area originally intended as a woodland retreat from urban life, and hordes of fairgoers tramped and trampled over grounds not yet able to withstand such intense usage. The businessmen had their way, and McLaren bided his time in angry silence.
After the Midwinter Fair officially closed in July, the Superintendent of Golden Gate Park had his revenge. The exposition's Board of Directors had promised to clear away all the temporary buildings within 90 days after the event was concluded. But the structures remained, as the former Directors returned to their daily concerns. By January, 1896, McLaren's patience ran out. He dynamited almost all of the remaining structures of the fair and took great delight in watching the gaudy architectural fantasies blow apart in showers of multicolored debris. The last to go was the electrical tower, shuddering and collapsing into a heap of twisted iron.
The structures he had despised for so long had been brought down. Should he remove every reminder of the hateful show? Not quite. McLaren knew a good work of landscape architecture when he saw one. The pseudo-Levantine castles could go up in smoke, the minarets and onion domes, fluted arches, and knobby finials could descend forever into the scrap heap. But the Japanese Tea Garden-the one exposition exhibit that blended best with the natural beauty of Golden Gate Park-this garden he spared. It stands today as one of the last reminders that a century ago the world came to San Francisco to see Michael de Young's remarkable vision come true. Fortunately for McLaren and his successors, the Midwinter Fair was the only international exposition ever to be held in Golden Gate Park.