University of Texas at San Antonio
About this Partner
The 1968 HemisFair is the only international exposition held in Texas. These photographs and slides depict buildings and homes demolished to make room for the fair at the southeastern edge of San Antonio; dignitaries who visited the fair, including President Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson, Texas Governor John Connally, and U.S. Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez; construction of buildings, such as the Woman's Pavilion and the Tower of the Americas; and scenes from the fair itself, which ran from April to October of 1968.
In 1958, San Antonio businessman Jerome K. Harris, proposed a fair be held in 1968 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio and the shared cultural heritage of the city and its Latin American neighbors. The organizing of the fair demanded years of coordinated investment and the support of city, state, and federal governments. In December of 1962, San Antonio Fair, Inc., began planning lobbying, fundraising, and designing HemisFair '68.
In keeping with Harris' idea of celebrating the shared cultural heritage of San Antonio and its neighbors, the theme of the HemisFair '68 was "The Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas." Built on a 96.2 acre site on the southeastern edge of San Antonio, the fair site was acquired mainly through eminent domain. Many structures were demolished and moved, in what was considered a blighted area, to make room for the fair. Designed by renowned architect O'Neil Ford, the fair's theme structure was the 750 foot tall Tower of the Americas, which remains in HemisFair Park.
Twenty-one counties and ten corporations sponsored pavilions that contributed to providing an educational and entertaining environment for visitors to the fair. Some 6.4 million people attended the fair and brought international attention to San Antonio and Texas. Hosting and constructing HemisFair '68 had a broad impact on San Antonio, including fostering urban renewal in the downtown area, retail development along the River Walk, and expansion of the local tourism.