Pre-HemisFair Neighborhood Site Actions Leading Up to HemisFair Significance of HemisFair to San Antonio Post-HemisFair Actions Map No. 2 - Buildings by Era Table No. 1 - HemisFair Site Index Detail, looking south: Bird 9s Eye View of the City of San Antonio - Augustus Koch, 1873 Site History Pre-HemisFair Neighborhood Site The HemisFair Park area was originally comprised of farmlands from the Mission San Antonio de Valero, which was founded in 1718, and in 1719, moved near its present location.
The primary ir- rigation ditch, the Acequia Madre, was built at the same time, to provide water for the mission oc- cupants as well as the mission fields. A portion of this acequia flows through the current HemisFair grounds area. Early routes of trade and transportation traverse HemisFair.
One of the earliest is the Camino Real de la Bahia, known as Goliad Road. This old road formed the route from San Antonio de Bexar to Mission Nuestra Señora de Espíritu Santo de Zuñiga and the Presidio del Loreto founded in 1720 on the Garcitas Creek in Victoria County. In 1731, after the arrival of the Canary Islanders, Mission San Antonio de Valero retained full title to all its lands, including those ... more. less.
which now comprise the HemisFair Park area.<br><br> In 1774, the Adaesanos, outcasts/refugees from the Spanish outpost of Los Adaes in East Texas, were ordered to San Antonio. They were allowed to select any lands that did not interfere with the land al- ready belonging to the settlers or Native Americans. In the 18 th century, this area was known as the Barrio del Alamo , a small community of former mis- sion Indians, Adaesanos, Spanish settlers, military soldiers, and their families.<br><br> The earliest structures were small jacales , ( vertical wood posts with daub chink- ing and frequently horizontal lathe) or adobe huts. By the late 18 th century, citizens began to pressure for the use of the under- utilized property of Mis- sion San Antonio de Va- lero. The Adaesanos, who had settled near Valero pe- titioned for the unused lands (Chabot 1932:60).<br><br> In 1793, the missions began the process of seculariza- tion due to their failure to convert and ccivilize d the many Native American groups. The labor de afuera , the lands which today comprise HemisFair, were granted to the Adae- sanos and other mission residents. 9 HemisFair Park Area Master Plan Site History Acequia Systems of San Antonio from 1997 Archaeological Survey Report, No.<br><br> 249, by Edgar D. Johnson, I. Waynne Cox, and C.<br><br> Britt Bousman Site History HemisFai r Park Area Master Plan The 19th century brought a different settlement pattern to the neighbor- hood. In 1856, the corporate limits of the city were divided into four wards covering 36 square miles. The HemisFair Park area falls within the boundaries of Ward 4, which included all of the land east of the San Antonio River and south of Commerce Street to the city 9s eastern and southern lim- its.<br><br> In the mid-to-late 19 th century, the area was predominately German in population. Other ethnicities in- cluded Polish settlers and African Americans. In fact, more African Americans lived in Ward 4 (19.9%) than any other area, and many set- tled in the cBaptist Settlement, d within the present-day HemisFair Park area.<br><br> A network of streets linked adjacent neighborhoods, criss-crossing present-day HemisFair Park. These in- clude Water Street, Wyoming Street, Matagorda Street, Labor Street, South Street, North Street, Rusk Street, Alamo Street, Indianola Street, and Durango Street. Residential homes in the csettlement style d and commercial businesses of the earliest settlers of San Antonio were located along these nodes.<br><br> By the mid-20 th century, many of the residential areas around the city 9s urban core had deteriorated considerably. These areas included the neighborhoods in and around HemisFair. To address decline in cities 9 centers across the United States, the Federal Urban Renewal Program was enacted in 1949 to remove in- adequate housing and stimulate community develop- ment.<br><br> Cities were given large amounts of federal money to purchase areas that were in decline, which were then sold to private developers for a cfew cents on the dollar d to construct new, improved housing or de- velop community projects. Some 15 years later, the Ur- ban Renewal Program would be utilized to develop the HemisFair site. Pre-HemisFair site neighborhood structures 10 HemisFair Park Area Master Plan boundary Composite Sanborn Map detail, partial HemisFair Area 1911-1951 Southside Initiative Community Plan HemisFair Park Area Master Plan Site History Actions Leading Up to HemisFair The fair was conceived in 1959 by local business leaders to celebrate the cultural heritage shared by San Antonio and its neighbor nations of Latin America.<br><br> Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez endorsed the idea. Financing for HemisFair included a combination of public funding and private underwriting.<br><br> Public support came from the United States Housing and Home Finance Agency, the Urban Re- newal Agency, the Texas State Legislature, and the U.S. Congress. By 1962, a local nonprofit organization (501c3) was formed to deal with the conception of potential plans for the exposition.<br><br> A theme began to solidify: cFair of the Americas d and more specifically, cConfluence of Civilizations in the Americas. d A nonprofit corpora- tion was formed called the San Antonio Fair, Incorporated. Jerome K. Harris was the cfather of the fair idea, d while William R.<br><br> Sinkin was the first president. Henry B. Zachry was named chairman of the board, and in December 1964, Marshall Steves became president.<br><br> Once organizers were on board with the concept of the world exposi- tion, the main task became finding a suitable site for the fair 9s set- ting. Site location began through the organization of the Site Selec- tion Committee, headed by Chamber of Commerce President James M. Gaines.<br><br> Sites went under review in 1963. A 90 acre site on the southeastern edge of the central San Antonio Business District was chosen. An Urban Renewal designation secured federal funds to transform the old neighborhood into an exposition site.<br><br> Twenty-six banks in San Antonio jointly agreed to pay for a feasibility study for the fair. They also started to plan for underwriting the operating costs of a fair. The fair project required seed money to get under way.<br><br> The banks provided financing in the form of a loan, which was secured by the pledges from the San Antonio business community. In less than four months, the underwriting goal - total coverage for a $4.5 million loan - was oversubscribed by a million dollars. What began as a lofty dream became a reality on April 6, 1968 when HemisFair opened to the public.<br><br> Significance of Fair to San Antonio HemisFair was the first officially designated interna- tional exposition in the Southwestern United States. Held from April 6 through October 6, 1968, the fair com- memorated the 250 th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio. The cConfluence of Civilizations in the Ameri- cas d was the overall theme, with more than 30 participat- ing nations.<br><br> HemisFair 868 attracted more than 6.3 mil- lion visitors and focused international attention on the city and state. 11 Los Indios voladores Official HemisFair Guidebook Aerial view - HemisFair site Site History HemisFair Park Area Master Plan HemisFair was singularly effective as a medium for social and cultural exchange and progress. The city acquired assets valued at $12 million in buildings, waterways, and landscaping when it was transferred to the City from San Antonio Fair, Inc.<br><br> (Ordinance No. 36856). The area was to remain for public use as a municipal center, an extension of the convention facilities, city offices, education, and park facilities .<br><br> Post HemisFair Actions Although 129 of the original historic structures were recom- mended to be saved and incorporated into HemisFair, the total number eventually saved was 24. At the end of the fair, the homes reverted to City ownership to remain as a re- minder of San Antonio 9s architectural heritage, and were later designated historic by the 1972 San Antonio Historic Survey and the Texas State Historic Commission Survey. In addition, these same 24 buildings plus a few structures built for HemisFair were designated as historically significant (HS) and/or historically exceptional (HE) by the San Antonio City Council under Ordinance No.<br><br> 64539 and 64540 on Feb- ruary 12, 1987 (see HemisFair Site Index, pg. 17) . The site still contains the 24 historic structures, along with several of the structures built specifically for the fair, which are currently in use by a variety of occupants.<br><br> These include the Federal Courthouse and Training Facility, the Institute of Texan Cultures, Tower of the Americas, and portion of the In- stituto de México. Two educational institutions - the Texas A&M University Engineering Extension Service, and Univer- sidad Nacional Autónoma de México have also been added to the site since the fair. Prior to the fair, the City conveyed approximately 5 acres of the site to the federal government for the Federal Court- house/Training facility and 13.1 acres to the State for the Texas Pavilion.<br><br> In the mid 1970s, the federal government acquired additional acreage for the Federal Office Building, and later, in the 1980s, the State was deeded additional acre- age for a permanent downtown campus. Although the entire HemisFair Park is approximately 78 acres, currently, the 12 L-R: HemisFair novelty bag, Traditional dress, Water show Texas A&M Univ. Extension Service Pre-HemisFair Structure Instituto de México Southside Initiative Community Plan HemisFair Park Area Master Plan Site History City of San Antonio owns only about 50 acres, of which, over 30 acres is occupied by the Convention Center complex.<br><br> Ap- proximately two-thirds of the remaining land is owned by the State of Texas, through UTSA, with the remaining one-third owned by federal government. The park was renovated in 1985 and several additions were made to the park at that time including cascading waterfalls, fountains and a water feature adjacent to the Tower of the Americas. In 1990, a children's playground was added, built entirely with volunteer labor.<br><br> In 1999, the expansion of the Convention Center, the park site 9s primary anchor, required the removal of many water features. Due to its massive physical size, the Center im- pacted both vehicular parking options and pedestrian access, and general movement and orientation within the park be- came more limited. With the anticipated level of proposed Convention Center and hotel development necessary to ac- commodate growth expectations for the San Antonio visi- tor industry over the next decades, it has become in- creasingly necessary to coordinate future expansion needs and address their impact on the immediate and surrounding HemisFair Park site.<br><br> The majority of the historic structures used during the HemisFair event have required intensive, continued mainte- nance. Those structures that have remained vacant for much of that time have continued in a state of disrepair, which in recent years, has become a critical financial consideration for the City. The tenants for some of the historic structures include the Amaya Deli, Office of the Bexar County Master Gardeners As- sociation, KIA International Jewelry, the administrative offices of the Instituto de México, and several City of San Antonio ad- ministrative offices.<br><br> The Tower of the Americas structure, the ccrown jewel d of HemisFair achievement, has continued to oper- ate since HemisFair 868, however, in recent years, it has also required a comprehensive maintenance program. With the comprehensive redevelopment of the Tower, along with future Convention Center and hotel expansion, the HemisFair Park site is poised to play a significant role in the future develop- ment of downtown San Antonio, for the next several decades. Downtown All-Around Playground 13 Convention Center access path Water feature James Sweeney House OK Bar Espinoza House Solis House<br><br>