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  #1  
Old Posted Jul 7, 2013, 8:56 PM
geomorph geomorph is offline
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Dallas - Fair Park

Dallas is the 9th largest city in the United States by population (1,258,000) and is the largest city of the Dallas-Fort Worth Combined Statistical Area in North Texas (the 7th largest in the United States).

Dallas' Fair Park is located two miles East of downtown and has been the site of the State Fair of Texas since 1886; it is also used for other festivals and events and features several year-round attractions. Architecturally, the 277 acre park is best known as the site of the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition, which left a collection of Art Deco buildings and murals that remain the prominent feature of the park. Some were meant to be permanent and others temporary; restorations of both have been necessary after years of heavy use. This thread will focus on many of these Art Deco features.

Parry Avenue Gate:
This was the largest entrance for the Texas Centennial Exposition, located at the end of a streetcar line. Several years ago a modern platform for the DART light rail's Green Line was built to re-establish service to the park adjacent to the gate.



















Administration Building:
This is not the current administration building for the park, but it was for the 1936 event when it received its Art Deco facade in front of the earlier 1910 coliseum building behind the facade. From 2000 to 2011 it housed The Women's Museum, now closed (which is typical of the park's struggle to maintain year-round tenants).







The Esplanade:
The Parry Avenue Gate is one end of a grand axis on the West side of the park; the Administration Building pictured above is near that end of the axis but there is no mirrored equivalent to it on the other side. The rest of the axis is formally symmetrical, with its core composed of a long shallow pool with walkways on both sides. The pool features sculptural water features on both ends while most of its length has an impressive pattern of vertical water jets (not operating the day of my visit). Each long side of the axis is occupied by an exhibition building, still used during the fair; one is Centennial Hall and the other is the Automobile Building. Both have identical facades added in 1936 to older buildings (although the Automobile Building facades are a recreation built in 1985 to replace those that burned in 1942). Each has three identical porticos fronted by similar statues and sheltering pairs of large murals. The six total porticos each represent the six national flags that have flown over Texas.



































Porticos:
The six total porticos of the two exhibition buildings flanking the Esplanade are shown here: first, the portico facade with its attendant statue and then the two murals that occupy the side of the hall beneath the portico's shelter. The first three are the ones on the Automobile Building and represent France, Mexico, and the United States. The other three are the ones on the Centennial Hall and represent Spain, the Republic of Texas, and the Confederate States.





































Federal Building:
Now called the Tower Building and housing the park administration, this originally housed government exhibits during 1936.













Fair Park Stadium:
This large outdoor football and soccer facility opened in 1932, several years prior to the exposition. It hosted the first Cotton Bowl in 1937, the year after the exposition, and was renamed Cotton Bowl Stadium. It has been in continual use since then and was enlarged in the past decade (it appeared to be an ongoing project during my visit).



Fair Park Band Shell:
This 5,000 seat outdoor performance stage features a stage with a large concentric-ringed backdrop similar to the Hollywood Bowl or Radio City Music Hall. The outside of the theater is pictured here.



Museum of Fine Arts:
This building is now unused but was recently the home of Science Place (one of the buildings of the Perot Museum of Science and Nature, which mostly relocated to its new Victory Park building on the edge of Downtown) and many years before that to the Dallas Museum of Art.





Dallas Museum of Natural History:
This building is still used as the smaller Fair Park campus of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, despite the main museum moving across town.





State of Texas Building:
Now called the Hall of State, this impressive edifice of Art Deco ornamentation is located at the far end of the Esplanade axis pictured earlier. Inside its entrance, the semi-circular Hall of Heroes leads to the Great Hall. Smaller themed rooms are also reached from the Hall of Heroes: West Texas Room and East Texas Room on one side and the North Texas Room and South Texas Room on the other. The building is home to the Dallas Historical Society, although the halls are largely left intact without exhibits so that the original interiors can be enjoyed.































































Children's Aquarium at Fair Park:











All photographs taken in April 2013 by geomorph.

For my other Dallas threads, see:

Downtown - Part 1: http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=211580

Downtown - Part 2: http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=211586

Uptown and Victory Park: http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=211603

Last edited by geomorph; Jun 2, 2014 at 3:48 AM.
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  #2  
Old Posted Jul 7, 2013, 10:52 PM
TwasBrillig TwasBrillig is offline
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Fantastic Deco!
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Old Posted Jul 7, 2013, 11:17 PM
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Some serious art deco going on here.

Thanks for the pics!
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Old Posted Jul 8, 2013, 12:56 AM
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Cool architecture. That Tower Building is a one of a kind. It's just odd in a good way.
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Old Posted Jul 8, 2013, 2:17 AM
mrnyc mrnyc is offline
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it doesnt get any more deco than that! love it around there. you are lucky that the weather is so conducive to that stuff staying intact so well, deco ornamentation can often be fragile in harsher weather climates.
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Old Posted Jul 9, 2013, 11:16 AM
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Really nice and colourful art deco, haven't heard of it before!
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Old Posted Jul 9, 2013, 2:50 PM
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That collection of murals is fantastic.
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Old Posted Jul 9, 2013, 5:51 PM
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Yes... yes, I approve of this... "Art Deco."

Why on earth can't this place keep tenants? Do the museums just outgrow their space there? Seems like it would be prime real estate for a cultural campus.
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Old Posted Jul 10, 2013, 2:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hauntedheadnc View Post
Yes... yes, I approve of this... "Art Deco."

Why on earth can't this place keep tenants? Do the museums just outgrow their space there? Seems like it would be prime real estate for a cultural campus.
The city of Dallas has a less than stellar relationship with Fair Park. It's neglectful.

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Old Posted Jul 10, 2013, 3:00 AM
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Yes, the City of Dallas has neglected Fair Park, yet it is a City of Dallas Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. It is also the world's largest collection of Public Art Deco Architecture. Public in this case means owned by a city or governmental body.
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Old Posted Jul 10, 2013, 9:34 PM
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Muy Grande! Thanks for the tour. I can see how they might start to feel like mausoleums after a while if I were a tenant, especially if there are few windows. Still very stately.
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Old Posted Jul 11, 2013, 12:13 AM
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That Art Deco is amazing... wowzers.
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  #13  
Old Posted Jul 11, 2013, 1:30 AM
Owlhorn Owlhorn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hauntedheadnc View Post
Yes... yes, I approve of this... "Art Deco."

Why on earth can't this place keep tenants? Do the museums just outgrow their space there? Seems like it would be prime real estate for a cultural campus.

The biggest problem(based on the reactions of people's comments) is its location. Its surrounded by what is statistically one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Dallas. So many, especially in the great northern sprawlderness badmouth the area without ever setting foot there. The State Fair does happen there every year, which is the largest state Fair in the US, so its attended then. Its also open late Spring and Summer as an amusement park. Again, you get people commenting they'd never take their kid there, even though the park is actually gated and incidents pretty much never happen. This hurts if you want to have a fantastically attended venue. Science Place was actually a damn nice museum that would be the envy of any city. Great building in a serene setting, but it just couldn't get great attendance. Now that it and the Science and Nature museum have combined as the Perot a few miles away, attendance has soared. The railroad museum is in the process of doing the same thing. Sad because its a great asset to the nation, not just Dallas, but the only way the Perot is built as it is, would be outside of Fair Park.

The second problem is probably neglect by the city. BUT, big but, the park has not been neglected. It has undergone constant renovation, as has the Cotton Bowl. They've even added attractions like the Top of Texas Tower and there's even a new arena planned. They have constantly also renovated the Cotton Bowl to keep most of its games. Right now its getting a new facade, more concessions, new suites and pressbox area. They are even looking at adding a permanent rollercoaster. The city even has a huge master plan that would put all parking lots near the park underground, while turning the surface lots into additional green space for the park. The problem has been, there's the Trinity River Park and Klyde Warren which have been getting all of the attention. If the neighborhood ever gentrifies(look out, its creeping pretty close), then you'd probably see the plan come to fruition. But now that the Trinity corridor on both sides of the river is heating up, you'll probably have wait a decade or so before you see the master plan come to life.

Make no mistake though, Fair Park does see millions of visitors each year and is in great shape. Its just not gotten that super attention that it should to take it over the top. But being south of I-30 right now is to its detriment. If it was located right across the freeway, i bet you'd see twice the attendance. Yes, people in DFW can be that petty.
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Old Posted Jul 11, 2013, 4:51 PM
greywallsareboring greywallsareboring is offline
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Wow, great photos! In a city that almost prides itself on the destruction of historic buildings in the name of “progress” and “market forces,” I would argue that because the park remained public and underutilized it has been preserved rather than neglected. Furthermore, as owlhorn states, the renovations over the last several years have really spruced the place up. Many of the statues are replacements of older ones that disappeared over the years.

Also, for any art deco or history buffs, the Dallas Historical Society has a great archive where I worked for a while. It contains all of the blueprints and great documents of the nutty mix of architects and Texans that built the place. It was located in the basement of the Hall of State until a flood led most of the collection to be stored off-site.

Check it out:

http://www.dallashistory.org/

Also, did you not find the Woofus?



Photo from Bill Chance's wordpress: http://billchance.files.wordpress.com
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Old Posted Jul 21, 2013, 7:58 PM
geomorph geomorph is offline
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greywallsareboring, no I did not make it over to that wonderful statue, I did not go to the Agrarian Section but had heard about it before going, I ran out of time, thank for posting a nice pic of it!
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Old Posted Jul 22, 2013, 4:17 AM
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Wow! What an impressive thread. Thank you for all of the information, too!!
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Old Posted Jul 23, 2013, 7:14 PM
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Great pics! Love Fair Park. I agree with one of the above posts that the location is what holds Fair Park back. Hopefully the new DART connection helps in some respects. But the cultural institutions definitely prefer the draw of downtown locations.
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Old Posted Jan 20, 2014, 6:51 PM
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Owlhorn, it has been awhile since any activity in this thread, but I was just thinking about the contrast of Fair Park with Fort Worth's Cultural District; although they are two different facilities, they seem similar in terms of being a few miles away from their downtowns. I haven't been to Fort Worth for several years but it seemed like the Cultural District was respected by its locals while Fair Park sounds like it is stigmatized by its surroundings. Does the Cultural District actually have a similar struggle?
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Old Posted Jan 21, 2014, 7:09 AM
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Superb thread. The architecture is magnificent. Wow!!!
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Old Posted Jan 21, 2014, 5:57 PM
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I'm going to be honest: this place gives me the creeps.
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