Thanks to the foresight of its early settlers, San Diego is blessed with an oasis of green that functions as its recreational heart. Balboa Park, located just east of downtown and the airport began as an 1,400 acre track set aside as a public park in 1865. The first master plan was prepared in 1903 and the city levied a tax in 1905 to support the master plan. The grounds were planted by Kate Sessions during the early part of the 20th century. Her determination to keep San Diego green can be seen in its lush plantings and trees.
Many of the buildings in the park date to the 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition and are excellent examples of the Spanish Colonial Revival style. At the time the buildings were not intended for permanent use, but they have remained in constant use since the Exposition. In recent years as termites and time have taken their toll buildings are being refurbished or rebuilt as exact replicas. The site was also the host of the 1935-36 California-Pacific International Exposition.