Located just southeast of downtown, this 96-acre park is bounded by East Market Street, South Alamo Street, East César E. Chávez Boulevard, and Interstate 37 (Highway 281). The site was first developed to host the 1968 World’s Fair, which commemorated the city’s 250th anniversary, drawing some 6.3 million visitors to the grounds.
Architects O’Neil Ford and Allison Peery oversaw the exposition’s development beginning in 1964. To make way for the grounds, the diverse Germantown neighborhood was razed, displacing 1,600 people, demolishing 1,349 structures, and altering or erasing two dozen streets. More than 30 countries sponsored cultural pavilions around Las Plazas del Mundo ("The Plazas of the World"). While many structures were dismantled after the fair, the Mexican Pavilion (now the Instituto de Mexico), U.S. Pavilion (now the Confluence Theater and John H. Wood Federal Courthouse), and the Institute of Texan Cultures remain today. The fair’s most iconic structure, the 622-foot-high Tower of the Americas, designed by Ford, stands as the city’s tallest building. The Henry B. González Convention Center occupies 30 acres along the site’s northern boundary and is bisected by a quarter-mile extension of the River Walk.
Established by the San Antonio City Council in 2009, the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation adopted a master plan in 2012 to revitalize the site as a mixed-use district with improved public spaces. The first phase, the play environment called Yanaguana Garden, at the southwestern zone of the park, was designed by a team led by MIG, Inc. and completed in 2015. A team led by GGN was selected in 2014 to design a Civic Park as part of the second phase slated for completion in 2021.