Texas over Time: Texas Centennial Exposition

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of GIFs that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, changing aerial views, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.


  • The Texas Centennial Exposition was the official celebration of 100 years of independence for Texas and was quite the extravaganza. The exposition was described as a spectacle where industry met commerce and art met science.
  • There were celebrations all over Texas that begun in 1935, but the official exposition was held in Dallas, Texas, and opened on June 6, 1936.
  • Billed as the first world’s fair held in the Southwest, it commemorated Texas history with fifty buildings, exhibits such as “The Cavalcade of Texas,” and cost $25 million to build.
  • The colored searchlights seen throughout the postcards could be seen for more than fifty miles. The other light channels spread through the exposition illuminate the buildings and reflect on the water of the lagoons and fountains. The porticoes along the esplanade were given special light treatment to accentuate the magnificent murals.
  • Along with the exposition, monuments for more than twenty Texas heroes were erected, and historic buildings across Texas were restored.

Postcard descriptions:

  • C56 – Fountain and Statuary of the Reflection Basin, study in Art. The brilliant coloring with the Flare lighting making for some of the best studies for the Studies
  • C55 – Reflection Basin, Esplanade of State
  • C61 – Texas Hall of State, is typical of the Nation’s Largest Commonwealth. Built of native stone, the $1.2 million structure is 488 feet wide and 258 feet deep.
  • 1009 – United States Government Building, with “The Story of Life,” scientific exhibit, arranged by State and Federal Doctors and Scientists
  • C51 – Transportation Building


Night Scenes of Texas Centennial Exposition, n.d., The Texas Collection general postcard files, The Texas Collection, Carroll Library, Baylor University, Waco, TX..

Handbook of Texas Online, “Texas Centennial,” accessed April 21, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/lkt01.

GIF and factoids by Haley Rodriguez, archives student assistant. See these and other Texas Centennial Exposition images in our Flickr set.