Texas Centennial Exposition Buildings (1936--1937)
The Centennial Building in Fair Park
|Location||Bounded by Texas and Pacific RR, Pennsylvania, Second, and Parry Aves
|Area||277 acres (1.12 km2)|
|Architect||Dahl, George L.; Et al.|
|Architectural style||Art Deco|
|NRHP Reference #||86003488|
|Added to NRHP||September 24, 1986|
|Designated NHL||September 24, 1986|
Fair Park is a 277-acre (1.12 km2) recreational and educational complex located in Dallas, Texas (USA). The complex is registered as a Dallas Landmark, National Historic Landmark and is home to nine museums, six performance facilities, a lagoon, and the largest Ferris wheel in North America. Many of the buildings on the complex were constructed for the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936 which drew over six million visitors. Most of the buildings built for the exposition still survive and it is recognized as a significant example of Art Deco architecture.
Fair Park has been designated a Great Place in America by the American Planning Association. The American Planning Association (APA) “is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities.” The Great Places in American program helps to celebrate areas with “exemplary character, quality, and planning.” Being designated as a Great Place in America, Fair Park was one of only ten cities chosen in 2011.
The site was established as an 80-acre (320,000 m2) fairground on the outskirts of East Dallas for the Dallas State Fair in 1886. In 1904, after a fire and financial loss by the fair association, voters approved the "Reardon Plan," which strove to keep the site out of the hands of real-estate developers. It became Dallas' second public park and became known as "Fair Park."
An important player in the development of Fair Park was landscape architect and city planner George Kessler. In 1906, he was responsible for the first formal plan for the park which was influenced by the City Beautiful Movement. The City Beautiful Movement advocates well planned public spaces, tree-lined boulevards, monuments, public art, and fountains which would ‘beautify’ the city. All of these aspects and more can be found in Fair Park. Kessler’s work also incorporated buildings within site boundaries.
A milestone year in the history of Fair Park was 1936, when the Texas Centennial Exposition was held on the site. In preparation for the six-month long event, the appearance of the park was dramatically altered by architect George Dahl and consulting architect Paul Cret. The park was transformed from an early 20th-century fairground into the Art Deco showcase it is today. While many of the exposition's buildings were meant to be temporary, several have survived and are now restored. Over the years the park was expanded to its current 277 acres (1.12 km2).
Fair Park was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986  and in 1988 administration of the park was transferred to the Dallas Parks Department. Today, the cultural facilities and annual events attract 7+ million visitors each year.
Restoration and future
The City of Dallas, State Fair of Texas, and Friends of Fair Park have plans to further restore Fair Park to its 1936 appearance and schedule programing to promote the park.
Many of the existing art deco buildings have been restored visually to their 1936 appearance and upgraded to modern building standards. In anticipation of DART's light rail service in September 2009 the historic Parry Avenue entrance gates were restored in 2009. The four cameo reliefs on Centennial Building underwent a professional conservation treatment in 2000 and the Esplanade fountain pylons and six monumental sculptures in 2004. Several adjoining lost sculptures are being reconstructed and will feature a dramatic light and water show also scheduled to open in 2009. Future plans include reconstruction of several demolished 1936 structures, renovation of remaining buildings and addition of green space. The Hall of State and aquarium buildings began renovations in 2009.
In 2003, the Fair Park Comprehensive Development plan was produced by Hargreaves Associates. This comprehensive plan included recommendations for the physical site, park programs, activities, funding options, and management alternatives. The park received a $72 million city bond in 2006 for repairs and improvements. This is a great investment considering that Dallas’ economy receives $300 million annually from Fair Park events and the park has received over 25 honors and awards since 2000.
As of 2007, the old neighborhoods just north of Fair Park such as J.D. Herndon's subdivision and the Richard Lagow Estates have begun to be revitalized with new housing. A good example of this can be seen across from the Northern ticket entrance to the State Fair on Fletcher Street, where duplexes are being built by Jubilee Park Properties.
The historic core of Fair Park contains significant examples of art deco exposition architecture constructed for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition. Many of these buildings have been restored and are most actively used during annual festivals such as the State Fair of Texas. It has been called "one of the most spectacular public spaces in the United States."
- Hall of State
Built in 1936 at the then-astronomical price of $1.2 million, the Hall of State, formerly the State of Texas Building, was the most expensive per unit area of any structure built in Texas and the centerpiece of the Texas Centennial Exposition. It is considered the best example of Art Deco architecture in Texas. The Hall of State is the terminus of the Esplanade of State. It currently houses the Dallas Historical Society.
Beyond its monumental entrance and limestone exterior is its use of art to express the history, culture and geography of Texas. A team of international, national and regional artists – including several winners of the prestigious Prix de Rome – assembled to augment the Art Deco architecture. That collaborative effort produced some of the most splendid, and awe-inspiring interior spaces in the United States.
- Parry Avenue Entrance
This symbolic entrance to Fair Park is the largest of the four original Texas Centennial Exposition entry gates. The striking 85-foot (26 m)-high pylon greeted the hordes of pedestrians who accessed the 1936 event from the streetcar terminus on Parry Avenue. The base of the pylon displays a sculptural frieze by Texas Artist Buck Winn. The entrance was restored in 2009 and is adjacent to DART's Green Line Fair Park Station.
Developed along the existing layout of the State Fair grounds, the esplanade was the principal axis of the Texas Centennial Exposition. Monumental facades and projecting porticoes were added onto existing State Fair exhibition halls on each side of a 700-foot (210 m)-long reflecting pool.
The porticoes establish the visual framework of the Esplanade and accentuate the grand perspective leading up to the Hall of State. Monumental artwork deftly combines with additional site features to complete the visually complex – and dramatic – spectacle. The esplanade was restored in 2009 and new fountains have been added.
- The Women's Museum
Most recently home to The Women's Museum, Dallas' first municipal coliseum was built by the State Fair in 1910 as a venue for livestock shows and concerts.
In 1935, Texas Centennial Exposition architect George Dahl renovated it for the exposition’s Administration Building. Two key pieces of artwork can still be seen in the central arched opening, or entrado: "The Spirit of the Centennial," a 15-foot-tall sculpture by Raoul Josset depicting a young woman rising from a cactus; and the Texas-themed mural behind the sculpture, by Italian artist Carlo Ciampaglia. 
In 2000, the building was adapted for use as The Women's Museum: An Institute for the Future. Affiliated with the Smithsonian, it was the nation's first museum devoted to the historical achievements and contributions of women. Citing financial struggles, the Women's Museum closed after the 2011 State Fair.  The building is still used during the State Fair as an exhibit space.
- D.A.R. Building
- Museum of the American Railroad
The museum grew out of a 1963 State Fair exhibit, and remained on the same 1.8-acre site at Fair Park for decades before closing in 2011 in preparation for a move to Frisco.  Its collection of railroad locomotives and passenger cars sat on the site of a similar transportation exhibit during the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition.
- Centennial Building and Automobile Building
The Centennial Building originally debuted in 1905 as the first steel-and-masonry exhibition building at the fairgrounds. George Dahl’s renovation in 1936 included three new monumental porticos built as part of a frontal expansion of the building.
Dahl made similar architectural gestures on the opposite side of the Esplanade, where he also incorporated an earlier exhibit hall into the new axial ground plan. This building, however, burned after the exposition. In 1948, the Automobile Building replaced it.
The design for the two original buildings included a giant mural under each portico by Carlo Ciampaglia (on the Centennial Building) and Pierre Bourdelle (on the Automobile Building). The cameo reliefs are by Bourdelle. In front of each portico, monumental sculptures by Laurence Tenney Stevens or Raoul Josset represent the six flags that have flown over Texas since Spanish exploration in 1519.
Artists recreated the original murals on the Automobile Building in 1999 and restored the original murals on the Centennial Building in 2000.
- Food & Fiber Building and Embarcadero Building
George Dahl consolidated the livestock and agricultural facilities of the exposition on the north side of the Cotton Bowl. The main axial approach into this "Agrarian" district uses the matching porticos of the Food & Fiber Building and the Embarcadero Building as objects in the foreground to frame the view of, and focus attention on, a distant pylon.
Workers completed restoration of the Food & Fiber Building in 1999 and conservation of its mural in 2000.
- Tower Building
The 179-foot (55 m)-tall triangular tower of the original "U.S. Government Building" marked the geographic center of the Texas Centennial Exposition. It also stood in splendid, isolated contrast to the fair’s predominantly horizontal sprawl. Workers completed exterior restoration of this structure – now called the Tower Building – in 1999. This restoration included artist Raoul Josset's gilded, stylized eagle sculpture and a bas-relief promenade of Texas history by Julian Garnsey.
Many Dallas cultural institutions call Fair Park home. Several of the buildings were constructed for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition, loosely organized around a naturalistic water feature named The Lagoon.
- Old Mill Inn
The Old Mill Inn was one of the few Texas Centennial Exposition buildings not to incorporate Art Deco styling in its design. Clad in fieldstone and incorporating heavy-timber construction, this was the exhibit building for the flour milling industry. It now serves Fair Park as a restaurant.
- Magnolia Lounge and (former) Hall of Religion
This little-known project by New York architect William Lescaze introduced European Modernism to Texas in 1936. The design of this hospitality lounge for the Magnolia Petroleum Company included elements commonly found in Art Deco architecture. However, the building’s overall image was radically different from that of any other structure at the Texas Centennial Exposition.
The lounge now serves as the offices for the Friends of Fair Park and also contains the Margo Jones Theater. Site of Theatre '47, the first professional, regional theater company in the United States, the small performing space pays tribute to the visionary founder of America's regional theater movement. Immediately adjacent to the Magnolia Lounge is the former Hall of Religion, future home to Texas! Music Center.
- African American Museum
The current museum building occupies virtually the same site as the Texas Centennial Exposition’s Hall of Negro Life. It boasts a permanent collection that consists of the works of such highly regarded African American artists as Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Larry D. Alexander, John T. Biggers, Clementine Hunter, Benny Andrews, Edward Mitchell Bannister and Arthello Beck 
- The Leonhardt Lagoon
South of the Midway, George Dahl arranged Dallas’s future cultural institutions informally around a tranquil lagoon. This offered Texas Centennial exposition visitors peaceful respite and a romantic, naturalistic counterpoint to the intense activity of the exposition. A major earth sculpture became part of the Leonhardt Lagoon in 1986.
- Museum of Nature and Science
The Museum of Nature & Science occupied two buildings around the lagoon, and a planetarium next to the WRR building, before moving most of its operations to the new Perot campus at Victory Park in December 2012. The former History Building remains open on weekends as a secondary campus of the Perot Museum. 
The History Building, once the Museum of Natural History, was designed for the Texas Centennial Exposition as a monolithic, rectangular box with little architectural detail. The entrance features three vertical window bays with decorative aluminum mullions. Flanking it are paired pilasters with shell-motif capitals. The rest of the building is clad in limestone. In 1988, workers excavated the northeast corner of the building, creating a series of landscaped terraces.
Just east of the History Building is the former Science Building, once home to Perot predecessor The Science Place, and before that, the Museum of Fine Arts. The spartan building, clad in Texas limestone and shellstone, was built as the centerpiece of the lagoon area. It is located on axis with the plaza and entry to the Cotton Bowl on the opposite shore. It was also home to the museum's TI Founders IMAX Theater; the 1996 addition gave the building a new monumental entry. The Texas Museum of Automotive History had hoped to move into the Science Building, but those plans were later dropped. 
- Fair Park Band Shell
The concentric plaster arches of the Band Shell comprise an essentially Art Deco composition. Elements of the Streamline Moderne style are present in the reinforced concrete backstage building. Lighting pylons surround the sloping 5,000-seat amphitheater.
- Texas Discovery Gardens
This was the original Horticulture Building for the Texas Centennial Exposition. It has since been altered by exterior renovations and additions, including the minimalist glass Blachly Conservatory. In the gardens behind the main structure is a model home that the Portland Cement Company originally built for the exposition.
- The Dallas Aquarium at Fair Park and Education Annex
The aquarium represents a highly complex building type still in its infancy in the 1930s. Many of the building technological advances, including the use of natural light over the exhibit tanks, are not apparent on the building’s exterior. Both Streamline Moderne and Zigzag Moderne elements are present on the building's entrance. The expanses of blank wall include a series of alternating brick planes and sculptural panels by artist Allie Tennant. Adjacent to the building is the aquarium’s Education Annex. This served as the Christian Science Monitor Pavilion during the Texas Centennial Exposition. Friends of Fair Park
- Cotton Bowl
The Cotton Bowl stadium was built in 1932 below-grade and originally known as the Fair Park Bowl. Subsequent expansions now put the capacity at 92,200. The Cotton Bowl Classic was played there from 1937-2009. Annually during the State Fair of Texas, it hosts the AT&T Red River Rivalry game between the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma and the Southwest Airlines State Fair Classic game between Grambling State University (Louisiana) and Prairie View A&M University. It was also home to the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1971 until their move to Texas Stadium in Irving. In 1994, it again expanded to host World Cup soccer; a 2008 expansion brought capacity to more than 90,000. It also hosts soccer tournaments, concerts and other festivals throughout the year.
- Music Hall at Fair Park
Music Hall, built in Spanish colonial revival style, was the General Motors Building during the Centennial Exposition. It underwent extensive remodeling in 1972. It was home of the Dallas Opera until 2009 and is the current home for Dallas Summer Musicals.
Midway and other structures
- The Texas Star, opened in 1985, is the largest Ferris wheel in North America.
- The Texas Skyway, opened in 2007, is an art deco-styled gondola ride that transports visitors 65 feet (20 m) above the ground for a ride that is one-third of a mile long.
- The Top o' Texas Tower, opened in 2013, is a 500-foot (150 m)-tall observation tower ride.  The tower's base will eventually house a museum devoted to the State Fair and Texas Centennial Exposition collection. 
- Located on the Fair Park grounds is WRR, Dallas's city-owned classical music broadcaster, which has the distinction of being the oldest commercially operated radio station in Texas, and second oldest in the United States.
- Gexa Energy Pavilion is an amphitheater that hosts large concerts.
- Fair Park is home to the Texas State Vietnam Memorial.
- The complex's signature event is the annual State Fair of Texas, the largest state fair in the United States by annual attendance, which has been held there since 1886. It currently lasts 24 days and begins in the last Friday in September and runs to the third Sunday in October.
- The State Fair also operates Summer Adventures in Fair Park, a beach-themed amusement park open from May to August that debuted in 2013; its attractions include midway rides and other fair features. 
- One of the largest Irish festivals in the country, the North Texas Irish Festival, takes place the first weekend in March each year.
- Earth Day Texas, one of the largest Earth Day events in the nation, takes place annually in April.
- Fair Park Fourth is the annual Independence Day celebration for the city of Dallas.
Other notable events
|Location||Fair Park, Dallas, Texas, USA|
|Time zone||GMT -6|
|Major events||1984 Dallas Grand Prix|
|Length||2.424 mi (3.901 km)|
|Lap record||1:45.353, 133.300 km/h ( Niki Lauda, McLaren, 1984)|
- In July 1984, Fair Park was converted into a Formula One circuit for a weekend to host the Dallas Grand Prix. The event was conceived as a way to demonstrate Dallas' status as a "world-class city" and overcame temperatures of 100 °F (38 °C), a disintegrating track surface, and weekend-long rumors of its cancellation. The interesting tight and twisty course was laid out with help from Chris Pook, organizer of the United States Grand Prix West in Long Beach, California, and featured two hairpin curves. The event was attended by former US President Jimmy Carter and featured Larry Hagman ('J. R. Ewing' from the television series Dallas) waving the green flag to start the race's parade lap. Williams driver Keke Rosberg driving the Williams FW09-Honda turbo won his 3rd F1 Grand Prix, his only win of the 1984 season. Nigel Mansell, who led for over half the race after starting from his first ever F1 pole position in his Lotus 95T-Renault, famously collapsed from exhaustion while trying to push his car to the finish line after his gearbox failed on the last lap and was finally classified 6th.
- The musical film State Fair was filmed in Fair Park in 1961.
- Fair Park is easily accessible from I-30, the major east-west interstate through Dallas.
- Fair Park is served by several bus routes by DART.
- DART's Green Line connects Fair Park to southeast and downtown Dallas with Fair Park Station and MLK Jr. Station. During the State Fair of Texas DART runs "special event" trains from the Red Line and Blue Line to Fair Park Station.
- Fair Park was once home to Trailblazer, the first commercially operated monorail system in the United States.
The Dallas Independent School District operates public schools.
- Stephen G. Snyder and James H. Charleton (December 24, 1985). National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Texas Centennial Exposition Buildings (1936-37) / Fair Park (Site of Texas State Fairs 1886-date (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-06-26 and PDF (4.10 MB)
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.
- "Fair Park Texas Centennial Buildings". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
- "American Planning Association". Retrieved 29 March 2012.
- "American Planning Association". Retrieved 29 March 2012.
- "American Planning Association". Retrieved 30 March 2012.
- http://www.fairpark.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=184 Friends of Fair Park
- http://www.fairpark.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=185 Friends of Fair Park
- http://www.aamdallas.org/ African American Museum
- "Our Schools." Foundation for the Education of Young Women. Retrieved on May 23, 2011. "The school is located in Fair Park at 1718 Robert B. Cullum Boulevard."
- Rob Walker (October, 1984). "1st Dallas Grand Prix: Cool Keke". Road & Track, 178-182.
- Mike S. Lang (1992). Grand Prix!: Race-by-race account of Formula 1 World Championship motor racing. Volume 4: 1981 to 1984. Haynes Publishing Group. ISBN 0-85429-733-2
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fair Park.|
- City of Dallas - Fair Park
- Friends of Fair Park
- Fair Park Calendar of Events
- 360-degree images of Fair Park
- Fair Park Comprehensive Development Plan