HemisFair 68’s Legacy: San Antonio HemisFair Park

The genesis of San Antonio HemisFair Park, located along the River Walk, was a World’s Fair held in San Antonio known as HemisFair ’68.

San Antonio was chosen as the site of the 1968 World’s Fair, to be called HemisFair ’68.  The fair, themed the “Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas,” paid tribute to the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio in 1718.  Six million visitors from more than thirty nations attended the fair from April 6 through October 6, 1968.

The fair included a series of National and corporate pavilions connected by monorail, elevated walkways, and river taxis.  There were also towering fountains, restaurants, boutiques, parades, a Swiss sky ride, and an amusement park.  Among some thirty nations represented in the pavilions were Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, West, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Venezuela and the United States.

More than 130 structures were built on the 96.2 acre HemisFair ’68 site at a cost of $156 million.  The State of Texas Pavilion cost $10 million. The United States Pavilion cost $7.5 million.  The 750-foot Tower of the Americas was the fair’s theme structure, complete with a glass elevator rising up the side and a 360° observation deck at the top.  The River Walk was extended to reach the site.

In celebration of the 20th Anniversary of HemisFair “68, San Antonio redeveloped approximately 15 acres of the site to create an urban park with waterfalls, fountains, playgrounds and lush landscaping. Sone of the original structures were renovated.  Part of the United States of America Pavilion building is now home to the John H. Wood, Jr. United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. Another part of the pavilion is now the Adrian Spears Judicial Training Center.  The site was re-christened “HemisFair Park” in April 1988,

In 2008 Hyatt Hotels completed construction of the Grand Hyatt San Antonio in what was part of the convention center theater originally built for HemisFair ’68.  In 2009 the San Antonio City Council created a non-profit organization, HemisFair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation, to oversee further redevelopment of the fair site.  In 2012 HPARC completed the renovation of three additional structures on the site.

Today, HemisFair Park is home to gardens, fountains, playgrounds, walking paths, historic homes, Tower of the Americas, the Mexican Cultural Center, the San Antonio Convention Center, a large hotel, a Federal courthouse, and more.

      

HemisFair ’68 Trivia (reprinted from a posting on the web)

Theme of the fair: “Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas”
Location: San Antonio, Texas. USA
Duration: April 6 – October 6, 1968
Overall Cost: $156 Million USD.
Size of Fair Site: 92 Acres
Attendance: 6.4 Million
Parking Lot Capacity: 4,000 cars
Number of Nation Pavilions: 33
Number of Corp. Pavilions: 15
Theme Structure: Tower of the Americas (750 ft.)
Most Popular Attraction: Los Voladores de Papantla (Flying Indians)
Commissioner General: Hon. John Connally (Governor of Texas)