When the president of the Texas Centennial Commission appeared before a congressional committee in 1935 to explain why the federal government should commit $3 million to help the Lone Star State commemorate the 100th anniversary of its independence from Mexico, he predicted that “Texanic,” a word invented to describe the centennial celebration, would soon join “gigantic” and “titanic” in the dictionary. Although Texanic never found its way into everyday use, there is no better way to describe the impression made by the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas — an impression that put its host city on the map and is still being felt today.


Part of the Centennial Exposition’s impact lies in the fact that much of its 1936 fabric still exists. In contrast to the impressive but impermanent nature of most world’s fair pavilions, sixty percent of the exposition facilities in Dallas were designed and built to serve as the home of the annual State Fair of Texas. Today, the exposition grounds, now called Fair Park, are a National Historic Landmark District containing the largest surviving collection of Art Deco exhibition art and architecture from America’s golden age of world’s fairs.

Fair Park Deco, published by TCU Press, is the first in-depth look at the design of the Texas Centennial Exposition. Lavishly illustrated with vintage images and original photography by the authors, Jim Parsons and David Bush, the book tells the story of how government agencies, civic leaders, private groups, artists, architects and laborers came together to create an epic celebration of all that is Texas.

Fair Park Deco is available in bookstores, but you can order a copy signed by the authors by e-mailing texasdeco@gmail.com or calling 713.510.3993. Books are $40 each plus shipping.

Read Jim Parsons and David Bush's article about the Texas Centennial Exposition in the Fall 2011 issue of the magazine of the Chicago Art Deco Society and their op-ed on Fair Park in the Nov. 27, 2011, issue of the Houston Chronicle

For more information on Fair Park Deco, e-mail texasdeco@gmail.com.

Fair Park Deco was made possible in part by a grant from The Summerlee Foundation.

Houston Deco

Modernistic Architecture of the Texas Coast
Hill Country Deco

Modernistic Architecture of Central Texas

Photos: Esplanade of State (top) by David Bush; Texas Centennial Exposition medallion by Jim Parsons