Fair Sites as Cultural Landscapes

Fair Park, Dallas. Photo by Charles Birnbaum, 2000. The Cultural Landscape Foundation

Recently, Designing Tomorrow curators partnered with The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) to provide information on the three still-existing sites where world’s fairs took place in the 1930s.  TCLF has a great program called “What’s Out There,” which is a database of over one thousand entries of “cultural landscapes,” or sites associated with a significant event, activity, person or group of people, and they wanted to add exposition fairgrounds to their collection. 

The three fair sites which still exist in some form include San Diego’s California Pacific International Exposition, or today’s Balboa Park; Dallas’s Texas Centennial Exposition, or today’s Fair Park; and San Francisco’s Golden Gate International Exposition, or today’s Treasure Island.  Each of these fair sites have unique stories of development.

For example, Balboa Park has been constantly evolving since the nineteenth century and has become the largest urban cultural park in the country. Many landscaping features, buildings and murals in Fair Park were restored to reflect how they looked during 1936 exposition season. And Treasure Island was used by the Navy for decades and is practically abandoned right now, although plans are in place to develop a sustainable community on Treasure Island, incorporating the remaining exposition buildings alongside new compact housing, mass transit, and parkland.

Read more about the landscapes of all six fairs in TCLF’s latest article here, and feel free to explore other excellent cultural landscapes in their database to see what’s really out there!

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