A Confluence of Photographs
HemisFair Park

After the fair ended in October of 1968, planners intended to reuse the fairgrounds as a downtown campus for the proposed University of Texas at San Antonio. When the campus location moved far north instead, the site evolved into a city park containing a patchwork of loosely connected civic, educational, and cultural institutions. It had limited recreational space and local interest in the area dwindled. Many of the historic houses and the few remaining small exhibit buildings sat vacant, deteriorating. This wasn't for a lack of redevelopment ideas. Over the next forty years, local leaders considered a variety of proposals to revitalize what became known as HemisFair Park. Many of these plans, which did not respect the area's history, mercifully never came to be. Others, like the water gardens (1988) and the wooden playground (1989), could not improve long term park use on their own.

About this Image:
1) The City erected this metal arch in 1988 to provide a monumental entrance to the park at S. Alamo and Nueva Streets. The arch, which spelled out the park's name in white letters, came down in 2015 as part of the plan to restore the connectivity of the original streets, particularly to the shops at historic La Villita (off camera to the left). The Grand Hyatt Hotel, which opened next to the Convention Center in 2008, towers behind the Schultze Store. Photo by Ron Bauml.

2-3) Water cascades from beams supported on concrete columns, recalling the supports beneath HemisFair's raised walkway. The walkway eventually had to be torn down for safety, so a similar structure was integrated into the design for the new Urban Water Park dedicated on HemisFair's 20th anniversary in 1988.

4) Express-News editor Charles Kilpatrick and his wife, Margie, came up with the idea for this downtown playground. They sought out New York architect Bob Leathers, who was known for creative playground designs created with input from local children. Corporate sponsors funded the playground's construction, which local volunteers completed in five days.

Courtesy of the San Antonio Conservation Society Foundation
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