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The Worlds Fair and Exposition
Information and Reference Guide

1968 HemisFair




  • 132 facts and trivia nuggets with 18 links to more resources.

  • The World's Fair and Exposition Information and Reference Guide is now on CD.
    11,216 facts and 1,362 web links covering 24 World's Fairs and Expositions.
    Further information can be found here.

  • To Convert Dollar Amounts to the Year 2003 Amounts: divide the amount by .210

  • Pictures may became reality in the future.



These Topics are on the CD
more Facts (23) Beethoven Hall
- Laterna Magicka (8)
Admission Fees (13)  
Mini-Rail (12) Skyride (7)
Convention Center (20) Amusement Area (8)
Institute of Texas Culture (4) US Pavilion (5)
Bonus: Timeline 1968 (45)





  • Dates: April 6 - October 6, 1968 (184 days)

  • Location: San Antonio, Texas.

  • Area: 92.6 acres.

  • Theme: "Confluence of Civilization in the Americas".

  • Symbol: Designed by Richard Wilson. It was chosen from over 100 suggestions and made official on September 28, 1965.

  • Area: 92.6 acres.

  • Cost: $156,000,000. Overall impact: $500,000,000.

  • Attendance: 6,400,000.

  • Projected Attendance: 7,200,000.

  • Daily Admission: $2 for adults (12 and up), $1 for children (2-11).

  • Attraction Admission Fees: see below.

  • Hours: 9:00AM - 12:00 PM. Exhibits: 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM, seven days a week.

  • Entrances: 5 gates.

  • Mascot: None.

  • Official Guide Book: 124 pages, 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches, $1.

  • Parking: 3000 car lot, 4500 car lot and a 600 car parking garage.

  • Representation: 50 Industries and Nations.

  • Participating Nations: Africa, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, Central America, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, OAS, Panama, Philippines, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Venezuela.

  • Type of Exposition: Special Exhibition.

  • Revenue:  .

  • Permanent Facilities: Institute of Texas Cultures (museum), Federal Government Pavilion, Tower of Americas, Folklore Gardens (city park), Lone Star Pavilion (museum), Mexican Cultural Institute (recently renovated), Pearl Brewing Company Pavilion (Large USO facility) and 20 renovated historical downtown buildings.

  • The Fair also celebrated San Antonio's 250th Anniversary.

  • San Antonio was named for Saint Anthony.


Facts and Trivia


  • The HemisFair Symbol represented the merging of many cultures in the western world.

  • 250 groups scheduled to entertain, including: a 30 piece accordion band, fortune tellers, Mariachi bands, square dancers and puppeteers. Even a Piñata was broken everyday. 

  • The Woman's Pavilion was the first of it's kind at a major Exposition with exhibits designed "to capture the essence of womanhood".

  • Entertainment included: Baja Marimba Band, Barnum and Bailey Circus, Bob Hope, Bob Newhart, Charlie Pride, Connie Smith, Dale Robertson, Dan Fleenor's Hell's Drivers, Don Adams, Ferrante & Teicher, Grand Ole Opry, Ice Capades, Isaac Stern Trio, Jack Benny, Jimmy Dean, Phyllis Diller, Ravi Shankar, Ray Price, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Tony Aguilar Rodeo, Water Follies of 1968 and Willie Nelson.

  • The fairgrounds were covered with 2000 trees. Including Hackberry, Tulip, Oak, Popular, Sycamore, Avocado, Pecan, Cypress, Lime and Orange trees. Many were decorated at night with low wattage light bulbs at 40-50 per tree.

  • The Waterway was 3/4 of a mile long and decorated with 2,050 tin lanterns at night.

  • Two Czechoslovakian Exhibits, "Lanterna Magicka" and "Kino-Automat" were also featured at Expo 67 in Montreal.

  • The fairgrounds Post Office was manned by 6 postal workers and offered the normal postal services including 200 rental boxes. Special 6¢ Commemorative Stamps were issued and the Official Postmark read "Hemisfair Texas".

  • IBM gave people the opportunity to experiment with computers.

  • Pearl Brewing Company provided 1890s themed entertainment complete with a ragtime band.

  • Alexander Girard's Folk Art Collection was on display. The Exhibit, "Magic of People (El Encanto de un Pueblo), contained over 500 folk art objects representing Southwest America and Latin America. Alexander was an architect and interior designer from Santa Fe, New Mexico.

  • The HemisFair Chief Executive Officer was a former Vice-President of NBC and Director of all NBC radio and TV shows.

  • 24 Historical Structures in San Antonio were renovated and leased to HemisFair exhibitors for the duration, most of which were food establishments.

  • Lanterna Magicka performed in Beethoven Hall.

  • Over 800 types of souvenirs from 18 countries were produced. And ranged from 10 cent items to $130 gold cufflinks.

  • Other souvenirs included: beach balls, glassware, pens, tie-tacs, jewelry, happy coats, squeaking walking canes, thimbles, clothing, chinaware, leather goods, Zebra hoof purses, Artic Oopics, Moroccan Djilabas and Guatemalan Dolls.

  • 78 snack bars in 4 central areas.

  • The Electric Prunes played on stage.

  • The Olympics in Mexico City began 7 days after the close of HemisFair.

  • Los Voladores de Papantla, the Flying Totonaca Indians of Mexico, performed their Religious Ceremony. The four hundred year old ceremony represented " the Indians descent from the heavens, flying in 32 revolutions around a 114 foot pole". And, believe it
    or not, it was part of the Frito-Lay/PepsiCo Exhibit.

  • The Lake Pavilion, at one side of Fiesta Lagoon, was a food and services area. It featured an exclusive club (Club Abrazo) and a boat docking area with access to the elevated walkways.

  • The Alamo was two blocks outside of HemisFair.

  • The Japanese Pavilion featured a photomural which included the Tokaido Express, the 157 mph bullet train connecting Tokyo and Osaka. It also featured a scale model of Expo 70 to be held in Osaka, Japan.

  • The National PGA Championship was held July 15-21 at the Pecan Valley Country Club in San Antonio. The Country Club also hoste the 1967, 1969 and 1970 Texas Opens. In 1998 a $5.5 million renovation began.

  • The Mormon Pavilion's pylon top had a 9 foot fiberglass statue of the Angel Moroni.

  • Proposals for the HemisFair date back to 1958. In 1962 a first joint committee meeting was held. HemisFair was officially chartered on December, 27, 1962. Underwriting began in 1963. On July 3, 1963 the official announcement of location was made, Urban Renewal Project 5, on 148 acres southeast in downtown San Antonio

  • To allow people to reach it by River Taxi, and at a cost of $1.9 million, the San Antonio River was channeled 1800 feet to the new Civic Center. The new branch was 26 feet below street level and 40 foot wide. And an underground connecting tunnel below two streets was needed to connect River bed to the new section

  • San Antonio's winding downtown river is also called "Venice of America".

  • The non-profit HemisFair Visitor Services Organization was formed by personal service and lodging establishments to better organize and conglomerate information for visitors.

  • Mexican Pavilion was the largest foreign pavilion at 12,000 sq ft.

  • You could watch a diamond cutter in the Belgian Pavilion.

  • The Arkansas Pavilion featured 8 dioramas and an animated relief map 24 feet in diameter. As well as Art works from Arkansas Governor Rockefeller's collection.

  • The Canadian Government was the first foriegn nation to sign-up. It's pavilion covered 9000 sq ft and was in three modules.

  • The OAS has 23 members including Cuba, who is an inactive member. The member nations are: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rico, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad & Tobago, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.

  • The facade of the Swiss Pavilion represented a medieval merry-go-round clock with the Greek Mythological creature Cronos. It covered 3000 sq ft and inside was a large mechanical bird on which "William Tell" would toss Alpine flowers on the crowd.

  • The Belgian Pavilion covered 3000 sq ft and had one entire outer wall decorated to resemble the Brussels Marketplace. Inside were tapestries from Tournai, Rubens, Frans Floris and O. Landuyt as well as the Polyglot Bible of Planti.

  • The Korean Pavilion exhibit featured over 3000 items from Korea including pottery, paintings, sculptures and textiles.

  • The Panamanian Pavilion covered 3000 sq ft and displayed an 11 by 25 ft replica of the Panama Canal.

  • The Japanese Pavilion covered 6000 sq ft and displayed optical equipment, transistors, tools, toys and rocketry parts.

  • The Venezuelan Pavilion covered 3000 sq ft and was designed by Leslie Howard.

  • The Central American Common Market represented the nations of Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rico. The Central American Pavilion covered 3000 sq ft and featured a 12 cubicle presentation accessible by automatic vehicles which carried visitors through them. They also sold a commemorative stamp.

  • The Magic of People Exhibit contained over 10,000 architectural toys and miniature objects collected by Alexander Girard. They formed 41 sets of displays depicting Latin American scenes in life. Including: A bull fight, an Indian pueblo, Noah's Ark, the Last Supper, the Garden of Eden, a parade, the Nativity, mermaids and even Heaven and Hell. The entire exhibit occupied 3,264 sq ft out of the 7,576 sq ft exhibit shell. 

  • The restored Eager House (built in 1866) contained the Baptist Church's "Crusade of the America" Exhibit. The house was the home of Sarah Eager, the first anglo-american girl born in San Antonio. She died in 1947 at the age of 105. Her daughter left the house in 1967 at the age of 100.

  • The Mormon Pavilion covered 4000 sq ft and displayed the Book of Mormon as well as other religious documents.

  • The Sermon's of Science Exhibit displayed 28 minute films and was at Expo 67 in Montreal.

  • For two weeks the Grand Ole Opry was in the arena. Guests included: Roy Acuff, Sue Thompson, Homer and Jethro, and George Hamilton IV. And the Miss Country USA Contest was held for the first time.

  • The renovated Schultz Store housed the Humble Oil and Refinery exhibit. It told the "Story of Transportation" through models and a fifteen minute film. The Humble Theatre could hold 120 people and displayed the story as a panorama using 5 screens.

  • The GM Pavilion occupied 8,275 sq ft on 13,200 sq ft of property. The experimental vehicles on display included: The GM Roundabout (3 wheel, 4 passenger car), The Electrovair II (battery power) and the Astro I (3 foot tall car with an elevated seat). The exhibit also contained display boxes featuring 36 safety features. 

  • The GE Pavilion occupied 5,000 sq ft on 9,000 sq ft of property. It contained a circular theatre that held 250 people for an 8 minute show. Five songs written by Stan Lebowsky and Fred Tobias were featured in the presentation. "We're Heading for a Musical Tomorrow" was the musical theme.

  • The adult oriented "topless" puppet show, "Les Poupees de Paris" was also at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. The $250,000 production featured 200 marionette and puppet performers in 6 different settings using costumes that cost $2000 each. The musical score was written by Sammy Kahn and Jimmy Van Heusen.

  • The Bell Telephone Pavilion occupied 10,000 sq ft on 20,000 sq ft of property. It featured a 10 minute live show by magician Mark Wilson entitled "The Magic of the Telephone". You could also see and talk with people in Disneyland, Chicago and Philadelphia using a picturephone.

  • The Lone Star Pavilion covered 14,593 sq ft. It's sloping roof was in the shape of a 5 point star and was 52 feet high. It had 15 dioramas on the first floor, a collection of spurs, barbed wire, Texana and a stuffed Longhorn Steer on the second floor and a 126 foot long bar.

  • The Ford Pavilion covered 10,500 sq ft. It was 60 feet in diameter and could hold 200 people. Features were: a 10 minute movie entitled "The Wide World of Ford" projected on a 16 ft x 146 ft long styrofoam relief map of the world using 9 projectors. And a 13 piece "Autolite-Ford Parts Harmonic Orchestra" which seemingliy produced music with instruments made of auto and truck parts. The music was pre-recorded.

  • Gulf Oil sponsored a miniature gas powered car ride on 1400 feet of track. The course ran on double tracks with 15 cars in each direction. It came complete with bridges, tunnels passes and a Gulf Service Station for services.

  • The Czechoslovakian Pavilion displayed the Kine-Automat film, "One Man and His World" in a 600 seat theatre. The audience participation movie had five voting opportunities, but the ending was always the same. Kine-Automat was also at Expo 67 in Montreal.


Tower of the Americas


  • At 622 feet, it was not only the largest structure at the Fair but also the tallest observation  structure in the western hemisphere. It was 67 feet taller than the Space Needle.

  • Stood at 750 feet with the Radio/TV antenna at top.

  • It symbolized "man's never ending upward reach toward ever higher achievement".

  • Constructed in 13 months using "slip-form" (a method of pouring cement).

  • Financed through $5.5 million in general bonds.

  • Contained 5 levels, 6 including the top observation deck.

  • The lowest level was the revolving restaurant. And it could hold 312 people.

  • The 605 foot observation deck could be reached using three glass encased elevators. Each trip could carry up to 27 people. Sources placed the elevator ride at 43 and 90 seconds.

  • Top house was attached on January 23,1968.

  • Designed by O'Neill and Associates.

  • Planning began in the Spring of 1964, with work beginning in February, 1967.

  • The 6th level observation deck (605 feet) could hold up to 1292 people.

  • The 3rd level observation deck could hold xxx people.

  • Two restaurants and two observation decks.

  • The lower level restaurant (550 feet) rotated 360º an hour and could hold 312 people.

  • The upper level restaurant (560 feet) did not revolve and could handle 140 people.

  • The non-profit San Antonio Tower Corporation was formed on January 10, 1966. They built and operated the Tower for 20 years before turning it over to the city.

  • Admission estimates were 3.3 million people during HemisFair and 900,000 people a year thereafter.

  • Only one bid for construction was received. DJ Rheiner Company won the construction contract with a bid of $3,873,000. DJ Rheiner was a member of the HemisFair Executive Committee and Chairman of the Design and Architecture Committee. Public controversary arose over a conflict of interest and the corporation cancelled the contract and bidding was re-opened. On August 2, 1966, a new $4,190,000 contract was awarded to Darragh and Lyda, and HA Lott. 

  • However, in house fighting and rising interest rates plaque unsold bonds and money could not be raised.

  • The Corporation attempted tax exempt status to market bonds at a lower rate. But 17 taxpayers filed suit to block this on the grounds that the city had "no legal authority to pledge it's credit to a private corporation to build the tower ... unless the voter's approved" it by referendum

  • On December 3, 1966, the city took control and submitted a $5.5 million bond issued to voters.

  • A counter suit was filed by Tower "doomslayers" stating a clause in the city charter.

  • District Court Judge dismissed the suit, but and appeal was made.

  • With time running out, the contractor warned that if work didn't start soon that he wouldn't be able to construct the Tower by Opening Day with the bid he offered months before.

  • Texas Attorney General Crawford Martin gives legal approval to the bonds while the battle rages in court. He signs the bonds in a New York Investment House.

  • Construction finally begins February 10, 1967.


IBM Pavilion


  • Two Pavilions at 7,000 and 11,000 sq ft.

  • The layout was patterned after a Latin American marketplace.

  • Had 16 computer terminals, 8 in each pavilion.

  • You could sit at a computer terminal and create your own design on a weaving loom. The loom was activated with punched cards using a "light pen". Afterwards, you were presented with a 4 inch fabric swatch of your design.


Pearl Brewery


  • Was the first industrial exhibitor, the first to build and the first to complete.

  • Contained seating for 418 people inside and 208 people outside.

  • Also had a family style stage show and a VIP room.

  • The two story stucco building became permanent after the Fair.


Woman's Pavilion


  • Theme: "Woman's changing role in a changing world".

  • Cost: $650,000,000.

  • Area: 12,000 sq ft, 4 levels.

  • Featured: Pottery, Artwork, Paintings and Crafts in the fields of Home, Family, Arts, Science, Business, Government, Industry and Sports.

  • First time in history that a Woman's Pavilion was devoted to women's contributions to the world.

  • It was financed by $5 Charter Memberships, $1 Junior Memberships and Donations.

  • Charter Members names were recorded on videotape and displayed on closed-circuit TV.

  • After HemisFair it became part of the Inter-American Educational Center.


Texas Pavilion


  • Cost: $10,000,000. Including an initial appropriation of $4,500,000 in 1965.

  • Area: 13 acres. 40,000 sq ft - 368 ft x 242 ft x 64 ft high.

  • Institute of Texas Culture displayed Texas History on 36 screens.

  • Had a fountain in front - 300 feet long and 60 feet wide.


Pepsi Pavilion - Los Voladores


  • Pepsi sponsored a religious ceremony performed by Los Voladores de Papantla, the Flying Totonaca Indians of Mexico.

  • The four hundred year old ceremony represented " the Indians descent from the heavens".

  • The Indian Chief climbs to the top of a 114 foot pole and dances on a circular platform 20 inches in diameter while playing a flute and drum.

  • Indians climb the pole and descend by rope while making 32 revolutions around the pole.

  • The "Flyers" represent birds and the tribe's belief that when one dies he returns to earth as a bird.

  • The show also featured a partial maiden sacrifice and ceremonial dancing by the Hua-Hua Indian Tribe.

  • Five shows were performed every day.


Links, Online Resources



Books, Sources


  • HemisFair 1968 Official Guidebook. AH Belo Corporation, Dallas. 221 pages. 1968.

  • HemisFair '68. Texas World's Fair, April 6 - October 6, 1968. San Antonio Express and News Supplement. 88 pages.

  • The American Way. American Airlines Inflight Magazine. Volume 1, Number 4. 1968.

  • Viva HemisFair. The Light. Sunday, April 7, 1968.115 pages.



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