The HemisFair Historic District is bounded by E. Market Street on the north, S. Bowie Street on the east, Durango on the south, and S. Alamo St. on the west and incorporates the grounds of the former HemisFair ’68 exhibition. Held from April 6 through October 6, 1968 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio, HemisFair "was the first officially designated international exposition in the Southwestern United States." The theme was the "Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas" and the shared cultural heritage of the United States and Latin America. Over 30 nations from around the world participated, and the exhibition drew over 6.3 million visitors to San Antonio.
The HemisFair grounds first served as farmlands for the Mission San Antonio de Valero (the Alamo) in the 18th century. The Acequia Madra, the primary channel in an early Spanish colonial irrigation system of ditches, was constructed in 1718 and extends through the HemisFair site. By the late 19th century, the area had been transformed to include over sixty streets and more than 200 building blocks. Many of these early buildings and residences were demolished and the residents relocated to make way for the 92.6-acre HemisFair grounds in the mid 1960s. Twenty four (24) historic structures were retained and incorporated into the exhibition plan, including a number of mid and late nineteenth-century houses, a carriage house, and a few commercial structures.
Today, a number of buildings constructed for HemisFair remain, including the 622-foot Tower of the Americas that decorates the San Antonio skyline. The round tophouse, which took 20 days to lift into place atop the tower, includes a restaurant and observation decks. The State of Texas Pavilion, the largest of the fair buildings, now serves as the Institute of Texan Cultures, and the former U.S. Pavilion complex and circular theater were converted into the Federal Courthouse. A quarter mile extension of the San Antonio Riverwalk was also incorporated into the HemisFair grounds at the convention center complex.
"HemisFair ‘68" by Frank Doane. Excerpted from Handbook of Texas Online. www.tshaonline.org