World’s Fair ’68: San Antonio
HemisFair ’68 was the first officially designated world’s fair (or international exposition) held in the southwestern United States. San Antonio, Texas hosted the fair from April 6 through October 6, 1968. More than thirty nations hosted pavilions at the fair. The fair was held in conjunction with the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio. The theme of the fair was “The Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas.”
The official world’s fair sanctioning body, the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) accredited HemisFair ’68 on November 17, 1965. The venture, which had an announced cost of $156 million, was financed by a combination of public and private funds. Public funding included $12.2 million from the United States Housing and Home Finance Agency for acquiring and clearing the site, $11 million in publicly approved city bonds for construction of the convention center and arena, $5.5 million in general revenues from the City of San Antonio for construction of the Tower of the Americas, $10 million from the State of Texas primarily for the construction of the Texas State Pavilion and $7.5 million from the United States Congress for the construction of the United States pavilion. Major corporate sponsors and pavilions were built by Eastman Kodak, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, General Motors, Humble Oil (now ExxonMobil), IBM, RCA, Southwestern Bell (now AT&T, Inc.), Frito Lay, Pepsi-Cola, Coca-Cola, American Express, Chrysler, 3M, the Mormon Church among others.
It seems that this World’s Fair didn’t have a whole lot to offer in the ways of retrofuturistic design and cool technologies, but one should consider what was going on while this Fair was open elsewhere in the world to appreciate what it was doing. Vietnam was at its highest, man was about to walk on the moon and the Summer of Love was about to begin, so this was a pretty interesting time.