In 1936, to celebrate the Lone Star State’s 100-year anniversary of gaining independence from Mexico, the then governor of Texas wanted to hold a “Texanic” (his made-up synonym for “gigantic”) affair. More than 50 Art Deco-style buildings were constructed for the Texas Centennial Exposition world’s fair, located on the grounds of a 277-acre historic Dallas park.
Fair Park originally opened in 1886 for the Dallas State Fair, and is a nationally registered historic landmark. For the grand occasion of the centennial, architect George Dahl transformed the entire park into a sprawling Art Deco showcase.
Though he crafted his grand plan at the time when the extravagant style of architecture was nearing the end of its prime, the Art Deco buildings, and the Centennial Exposition overall, were a hit. Over 6 million people, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt, attended the fair. The event is credited with helping pull Dallas out of the Great Depression.
Today, the park is used for the Texas State Fair every October. The Cotton Bowl in the middle of the park hosts the annual University of Texas-Oklahoma University game and can hold over 90,000 guests. Around 30 of the park’s Art Deco structures still exist today, though they’ve been renovated to suit modern building standards.
Know Before You Go
Fair Park can be reached by the Green line of the DART Station, get off at the stop for Fair Park Station. The park can be visited throughout the year but it comes to life the most during the Texas State Fair every year.