What some people may or may not know about the site of the 1968 World’s Fair – HemisFair ’68 is that prior to the Fair the site was residential neighborhood. Many of the structures were built in the late 1800’s and some dating back to before the American Civil War (1861 – 1865). By the early 1960’s the area had been regarded by some as a blighted area; as some residents had moved out, others were not able to maintain their homes and the overall trends at the time was to move out of downtown in to the newer suburbs.
One of the most well known reasons for having a World’s Fair in San Antonio was to create a tourism industry which was nonexistent at that time, but it was also to revitalize the downtown area with that site in particular.
Below is a scan of a city map from 1961 showing the site prior to the fair. (Click on image for a closer look)
Below is a press image of downtwon San Antonio from 1964 showing a outline of the 92 acre site. (Click on image for a closer look)
Over the decades since the Fair the majority of the pre-existing structures have had some use as offices for the city of San Antonio or various non-profit entities, however, the majority of remained empty and have fallen in disrepair. One of the key components of the overall redevelopment of the site is to have these structures restored and opened for small businesses within the site.
In the spring of 2012 the first project to take place at Hemisfair Park in years was on the western end of the park along S. Alamo St. The project was the restoration three indigenous structures in the park.
Here is a local newspaper article on the restoration: HPARC Renovates Southern Baptist Pavilion for new offices
Below are some before / after images I took of the project. (Click on images for a closer look)
Part of the overall redevelopment of the former World’s Fair site included restoring the remaining indigenous structures on the site and incorporating them into the new Hemisfair.
According to the City of San Antonio here is some of the basic information on the project:
Start date – December 2014
Completion date – November 2015
Project budget – $4.4 Million USD.
Indigenous homes to be stabilized and have their exteriors rehabilitated:
Indigenous homes to be stabilized:
Below are some images I took during the restoration process. (Click on images for a closer look)
Below are some images I took in November of 2016 showing the completed restorations. (Click on images for a closer look)