Texas Centennial Exposition

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Lone Star State Selects Beauties for 100 Year Pageant[1]

The event[edit]

The Texas Centennial Exposition was a World's Fair held at Fair Park in Dallas, Texas (USA) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Texas's independence from Mexico in 1836. More than 50 buildings, for which "George Dahl was director general of a group of architects who designed the buildings,"[2] were constructed for the Exposition, which ran from June 6, 1936 to November 29, 1936. The exposition attracted 6,353,827 visitors, and cost around $25 million.[3] The exposition was credited for buffering Dallas from the Great Depression, creating over 10,000 jobs and giving a $50 million boost to the local economy.

Three Texas cities, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio competed to host the Exposition, with Dallas receiving the nod from the Texas Centennial Commission because it offered the largest cash commitment ($7,791,000), the existing facilities of the State Fair of Texas and a strong group of leaders.[4]

The Cavalcade of Texas, a historical pageant covering four centuries of Texas history, was one of the most popular attractions at the Exposition. The Hall of Negro Life was another popular attraction and is believed to be the first recognition of African-American culture at a World's Fair. The Texas Centennial Olympics held in the Cotton Bowl hosted the first integrated public athletic competition in the history of the South.[5] Universal produced a newsreel of the Centennial beauty pageant, which shows models attempting to fit into life-sized cutouts of the Texas Centennial Committee's concept of the "perfect figure."[1]

President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited the exposition in a widely publicized event on June 12. Gene Autry's film The Big Show was filmed on location and shows many of the buildings and events of the event.

The Centennial Exposition required a massive publicity effort, but the promotion department was stymied by a lack of photographs. Never before had the state been photographed for advertising purposes. The Centennial Exposition hired Polly Smith to travel the state and tell the story of Texas through photos.

After a successful five-month run, the Texas Centennial Exposition was closed. The exhibits changed and reopened the following year as the Greater Texas & Pan-American Exposition.


In October 2010, the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. opened an exhibition titled Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s.[6] This exhibition, which was available for view until September 2011, prominently featured the Texas Centennial Exposition.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Universal Newsreel (1935). "Lone Star State Selects Beauties for 100 Year Pageant". Texas Archive of the Moving Image. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Federal Writers' Project, "The WPA Guide to Texas," Texas Monthly Press, 1986 p. 236
  3. ^ Dallas Historical Society - Dallas History. Retrieved 20 April 2006.
  4. ^ "TEXAS CENTENNIAL". The Handbook of Texas. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
  5. ^ "The First Pan American Olympics?". Latin American Studies Association (LASA). 
  6. ^ http://www.nbm.org/exhibitions-collections/exhibitions/worlds-fairs.html

External links[edit]