EXPO 1968 SAN ANTONIO

Category
Special Exposition

Dates
06/04/1968 - 06/10/1968

Theme
The confluence of civilizations in the Americas

Official Designation
Hemisfair 1968

Area (ha)
39

Visitors
6,384,482

Participants (Countries)
23


The Theme

The Expo was dubbed HemisFair ’68, with its theme being “The Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas”. The theme aimed to celebrate different cultures from the old and the new worlds, and the Expo’s date coincided with the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio, a Texan city originally settled by the Spanish.

The Site

The Expo Site covered 39 ha in the southwestern edge of the city, with the San Antonio river being extended by 400 metres to pass through the site and provide river transport. The exterior design of most pavilions followed clean and simple lines, as the Expo was more focused on people and civilizations. Some pavilions were built for permanent use, and thus had their own structural designs, including the US Pavilion and the Mexican Pavilion.

The site was developed on a quiet residential area, and 22 historical buildings were kept and incorporated into the Expo Site. This gave it a distinctive feel, with some of the Spanish remnants dating from the 1800s.

The HemisFair’s theme structure was the 190-metre high Tower of the Americas, which features two revolving restaurants and an observation deck. The site also boasted “Fiesta Island”, an area with 18 themed rides and games.

Cultural Mix

With San Antonio acting as a bridging city between the US and Latin America, efforts were made to maximize participation from the Western Hemisphere. In order to promote pan-American unity and maximize the use of space, five Central American countries shared one pavilion, as did 11 members of the Organization of American States.

There were a number of exhibits and cultural events that drew on the Expo’s theme, including Spanish art, a display of Latin American village life and ceremonial dancing from Indian tribes.

In the US Pavilion, visitors were treated to a Thomson/Hammid film presentation that highlighted the country’s rich cultural heritage. The show started with three separate theatres, each seating 400 people, which was then transformed into the world’s largest cinema at the time, as the walls and screens were lifted to reveal a 43x12 metre screen.

Legacy

The remaining part of the Expo Site is now known as HemisFair Park, which features a number of pre-existing buildings as well as pavilions from the Expo. Some of the pavilions have been renovated – the Mexican Pavilion now hosts the Mexican Cultural Institute, the Texas Pavilion is now the UTSA’s Institute of Texan Cultures, while the Laterna Magika is now Children’s Magik Theater.

The Henry B. Gonzales Convention Centre is one of the most significant buildings left behind by the Expo, and it underwent an expansion in early 2016. The venue has helped the city develop a conference industry and build on its reputation as a centre for inter-American exchange.

The site is part of an ongoing transformation programme, which in October 2015 led to the opening of Yanaguan Park. The park was specially designed to encourage children to interact, and it also features games spaces for adults as well as an art installation. In 2018, San Antonio is set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Expo by opening Civic Park, an outdoor community area spanning 4.6 ha.

The Theme

The Expo was dubbed HemisFair ’68, with its theme being “The Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas”. The theme aimed to celebrate different cultures from the old and the new worlds, and the Expo’s date coincided with the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio, a Texan city originally settled by the Spanish.

The Site

The Expo Site covered 39 ha in the southwestern edge of the city, with the San Antonio river being extended by 400 metres to pass through the site and provide river transport. The exterior design of most pavilions followed clean and simple lines, as the Expo was more focused on people and civilizations. Some pavilions were built for permanent use, and thus had their own structural designs, including the US Pavilion and the Mexican Pavilion.

The site was developed on a quiet residential area, and 22 historical buildings were kept and incorporated into the Expo Site. This gave it a distinctive feel, with some of the Spanish remnants dating from the 1800s.

The HemisFair’s theme structure was the 190-metre high Tower of the Americas, which features two revolving restaurants and an observation deck. The site also boasted “Fiesta Island”, an area with 18 themed rides and games.

Cultural Mix

With San Antonio acting as a bridging city between the US and Latin America, efforts were made to maximize participation from the Western Hemisphere. In order to promote pan-American unity and maximize the use of space, five Central American countries shared one pavilion, as did 11 members of the Organization of American States.

There were a number of exhibits and cultural events that drew on the Expo’s theme, including Spanish art, a display of Latin American village life and ceremonial dancing from Indian tribes.

In the US Pavilion, visitors were treated to a Thomson/Hammid film presentation that highlighted the country’s rich cultural heritage. The show started with three separate theatres, each seating 400 people, which was then transformed into the world’s largest cinema at the time, as the walls and screens were lifted to reveal a 43x12 metre screen.

Legacy

The remaining part of the Expo Site is now known as HemisFair Park, which features a number of pre-existing buildings as well as pavilions from the Expo. Some of the pavilions have been renovated – the Mexican Pavilion now hosts the Mexican Cultural Institute, the Texas Pavilion is now the UTSA’s Institute of Texan Cultures, while the Laterna Magika is now Children’s Magik Theater.

The Henry B. Gonzales Convention Centre is one of the most significant buildings left behind by the Expo, and it underwent an expansion in early 2016. The venue has helped the city develop a conference industry and build on its reputation as a centre for inter-American exchange.

The site is part of an ongoing transformation programme, which in October 2015 led to the opening of Yanaguan Park. The park was specially designed to encourage children to interact, and it also features games spaces for adults as well as an art installation. In 2018, San Antonio is set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Expo by opening Civic Park, an outdoor community area spanning 4.6 ha.