Our History

Our History

Hemisfair Timeline

Before HemisFair ’68, or even The Alamo, the Payaya Indians, a Coahuiltecan-speaking group, occupied the land that is the Hemisfair District today and called the San Antonio River, Yanaguana. Once the Alamo Mission was established, the Hemisfair District became farmland to grow crops for the mission. The Spanish built the Acequia Madre de Valero to supply water.

In the 1800s, the Hemisfair District was a bustling neighborhood known as Germantown. A melting pot of immigrants, the neighborhood had more than 300 dwellings and was home to Rodfei Shalom Temple and, a block away, St. Michael’s Church.

The Hemisfair District has seen many transformations throughout history and is reinventing itself once more.

  1. 1965

    San Antonio is chosen to host the 1968 World’s Fair. Then-Mayor McAllister and future Mayor Lila Cockrell, along with Governor Conally and Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez and other civic leaders begin planning for the Fair.

  2. 1968

    From April 6 to October 6, San Antonio hosts almost six million visitors in Hemisfair. Gondola rides, cultural pavilions, waterski shows and the Tower of the Americas draw praise from visitors.

  3. 1973

    The San Antonio Spurs play their first game in the HemisFair Arena, drawing a crowd of almost 6,000 people.

  4. 1981

    HemisFair Arena was the host of many notable concerts during it's time, like The Jacksons on July 15, 1981! Other notable performances included: Elvis Presley (1972), The Rolling Stones (1975), Whitney Houston (1991) and Selena (1994).

  5. 1989

    In need of desperate attention, a group of San Antonio citizens come together with elected officials to give protected historic designation to several properties around the Hemisfair campus.

  6. 1995

    The HemisFair Arena is demolished for Convention Center expansion.

  7. 2009

    Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation (HPARC) is established to manage and oversee redevelopment at Hemisfair.

  8. 2012

    Hemisfair Master Plan is unanimously approved by City Council and voters approve a bond that includes $30M for parks, historic preservation and streets.

  9. 2014

    Hemisfair Conservancy is founded to support Hemisfair's redevelopment through philanthropy.

  10. 2015

    Yanaguana Garden, the first of three parks, opens in Hemisfair.

  11. The Promenade at Civic Park


    Civic Park, the largest and most iconic park, opens to the public.

For more in-depth information about the history of the Hemisfair District, visit HemisFair ’68 Online –  curated by Historian Christopher Medina.