Arts & Culture News

Five Bizarre Fair Park Oddities, from the 1936 Texas Centennial Exhibition

Brace yourself for a time warp as you crack the spine of Fair Park Deco: Art and Architecture of the Texas Centennial Exposition. This isn't the Fair Park you've come to appreciate, though mostly ignore. As it was unveiled in 1936, the deco temple was sprawling and much more sordid, bizarre and brilliant then its current iteration. It was a geographical crystal ball, meant to unite those rural farmers, those Texans, and give them a glimpse into the future.

Jim Parsons and David Bush are the books' coauthors and photographers, and they'll present the new release at a lecture on Thursday, November 8 at 6 p.m. in the Hall of State. It's free to attend, and you'll get a rare peephole look back, as the fellas offer up pictures and original news reel footage from 1936.

We chatted with them, asking about the interesting curiosities they discovered through their historical stone-turning. It turns out, they found a lot. Here's our five favorites.

1.) The Midway had Strippers, Booze and Gambling The bastion of oversized plush animals that we see today was another area entirely during and after the Centennial. "There was a lot of nudity and girlie shows," said Parsons. "It would shock us today." At the time of its unveiling, he explains, Dallas was in the throes of financial disturbance. It was, like the rest of the country, shook up by the economic rattling of the Dust Bowl era.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jamie Laughlin
Contact: Jamie Laughlin