Home Architectural Travel An Art Deco Treasure: The Esplanade at Fair Park

An Art Deco Treasure: The Esplanade at Fair Park

written by Penny Sadler

I’m going to let you in on a secret. Visitors to Dallas that love architecture, beautiful outdoor public spaces, and want to learn a bit about the history Dallas and the state of Texas: go to Fair Park.

Fair Park is an urban treasure and notable destination for Art Deco architecture in the US. Though Miami may boast the largest collection of art deco architecture in the world, Fair Park has the largest collection of art deco exhibition buildings,art, and sculpture in the U.S.

It is one of the finest examples of excellent city planning and beautification of a public space to be found anywhere in the world.

Join me in a walk around this dramatic and beautiful city park in Dallas, Texas.

Art Deco treaure The Esplanade at Fair Park @PennySadler 2014

The Hall of State as seen from the west end of the Esplanade.

Fair Park is of significant historical value because it was the site of the 1936 Texas Centennial events and the State Fair of Texas has been held there every year for over 100 years.

The park is also massive, 277 acres, so for the purpose of this photo essay, I’m only going to feature what is known as the Esplanade at Fair Park.

To me, the Esplanade is real gem of the park. Built especially for the Centennial, the Esplanade features a 700 foot reflection pool and three fountains. During the State Fair of Texas and other special events, there are water shows set to a variety of music and lit by more than 170 lights.

Art Deco Treasure, The Esplanade at Fair Park

The fountains on the Esplanade at Fair Park.

Everything is bigger in Texas!

The reflection pool is  flanked one each side by art deco buildings – each building has three huge porticos, adding to the feeling of expansiveness that is so much a part of the ambiance of Texas. The architect behind the design of the Esplanade, George Dahl, described the style of these buildings as “Texanic.” Even back in those days, “everything was bigger in Texas.”

Fabulous and larger than life sculptures depict the six flags of the nations that once and now rule over Texas: Mexico, The Confederacy, Spain, France, The Republic of Texas and the United States. Theses sculptures can be found in the porticos in front of the buildings on either side of the Esplanade.

Art Deco Treasure in Dallas @PennySadler 2014

Statue representing Texas as part of Spain.

Art Deco Treasure in Dallas

Close up Texas under the rule of Spain

Art Deco Treasure at Fair Park, Dallas

Statue of Texas as part of Mexic0.

Art Deco Fair Park Dallas-26

Close up, Texas under Mexico.

Art Deco Treasure The Esplanade at Fair Park

Texas as part of France bearing grapes.

art deco architecture dallas, @PennySadler 2014

Statue of Texas under the Republic of Texas with Lone Star and Cotton flower.

Art Deco Treasure, Fair Park, Dallas, @PennySadler 2014

Statue of Texas as part of the Confederacy.

Art Deco treasure in Dallas, @PennySadler 2014

Close up, Texas under the Confederacy.

Art Deco treasure the esplanade Fair Park, @pennysadler 2014

Texas joins the United States of America.

An art deco treasure the esplanade at fair park @Pennysadler 2014

For the Texas Centennial, a team of international, national, and regional artists – including several winners of the prestigious Prix de Rome – assembled in 1936, to augment the Art Deco architecture.

Mural on the exterior of the Centennial Building at Fair Park

Bas relief mural by Pierre Bourdelle.


Don’t miss the Hall of State.

A walk along the Esplanade should begin at the west entrance to the park on Parry Ave. and culminate at the Hall of State, an elaborate and regal art deco building that showcases the economic, agricultural, and social development of Texas.

Hall of state, Fair Park.

Mural depicting the oil boom in Texas. Hall of State.

Art deco treasure Fair Park, @PennySadler 2014

Interior Hall of State, Fair Park, Dallas.

An Art Deco Treasure, Dallas @PennySadler 2014

Hall of State, Fair Park, Dallas

Fair Park is a fantastic place for a walk – and more than any other place in Dallas, I believe it reflects the natural geography of the area in an aesthetically pleasing way. It’s now on my top five list of places I recommend to visitors to Dallas.

Here’s a link for a map and tour of the Esplanade.

Have you been to Fair Park? If you like this article you will enjoy my article on art deco architecture in Miami’s South Beach area.

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noel January 29, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Yes the artwork, design and architectural details are magnificent to visit even on a very cold night that you took me there to see these wonderful buildings.

Penny Sadler January 30, 2016 at 4:39 pm

Noel, I’m glad you got to see it. There will be a lot of changes coming there we hope for the best!

Elin Stebbins Waldal September 26, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Oh this is just marvelous! I love the way you bring the reader right into your exploration of the park, next time I am in Dallas, I intend to visit this park.

If you ever make it to Milwaukee you may want to consider staying at, The Ambassador Hotel, it is an exquisite deco era hotel that was refurbished. I was fortunate enough to have been put up there while visiting for work, but even if you didn’t stay there it is worth skipping into the lobby.

Penny Sadler September 26, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Thanks for the tip!

noel September 15, 2014 at 2:44 pm

wow, how stunning is this, glad they were able to preserve these buildings and details – gorgeous

Penny Sadler September 15, 2014 at 11:03 pm

It is really cool!

Mary @ Green Global Travel September 15, 2014 at 11:06 am

Fair Park looks like a great place to take a break from the city. Thanks for sharing!

Penny Sadler September 15, 2014 at 11:35 am

It is and the crazy part – it’s in the city!

Lillie - @WorldLillie September 13, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Very intriguing!

Terry at Overnight New York September 12, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Art Deco isn’t the first thing that pops into my head when I think of Dallas, but Fair Park looks and sounds terrific. What a gorgeous splash of history!

Penny Sadler September 14, 2014 at 3:50 pm

IKR. It is a really lovely place. Being further developed. In the next ten years it will be a different place. All the art deco will still be there of course, but accessibility will change. If you get a chance to come to Dallas it should be seen now.

Dan @ A Cruising Couple September 12, 2014 at 9:55 am

What a pleasant surprise! Love how it is described at “Texanic!” Looks very impressive. Thanks for sharing 🙂

Penny Sadler September 14, 2014 at 3:50 pm

“Texanic” is a great word.

Micki September 11, 2014 at 12:32 pm

What a nice surprise! I never would have thought to look for art deco architecture in in Dallas, Texas!

Penny Sadler September 11, 2014 at 7:24 pm

It does seem counter intuitive. Fair Park is exceptional.

Lesley Peterson September 9, 2014 at 10:20 pm

What a spectacular art deco site! The Esplanade at Fair Park would certainly would be at the top of my list of things to see in Dallas.

Penny Sadler September 10, 2014 at 8:43 am

You would love it! I will follow up with more photos after the State Fair clears out. For the next few months they own the place! 🙂

Bethaney - Flashpacker Family September 9, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Wow. Super interesting! I love art deco architecture.

Penny Sadler September 9, 2014 at 8:32 pm

Thanks Bethaney. This is just the tip of the iceberg as they say.

Jennifer September 9, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Wow, wow ,wow — that esplanade looks great. I bet it’s hard not to splash around in it on super hot Texas summer days!

Penny Sadler September 9, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Funny you should say that, the day I took these photos there was a group of kids having a great time in another fountain in front of the Hall of State. 🙂

Valen-This Way Paradise September 9, 2014 at 12:00 am

Definitely looks like a great place for a walk!!

Penny Sadler September 9, 2014 at 10:34 am

It is!

Michele September 8, 2014 at 11:19 pm

Love the article and photos.
This is one of my favorite places in Dallas.

Penny Sadler September 9, 2014 at 10:35 am

Hey Shelly thanks for visiting the blog! Fair Park is the best isnt’ it!

Shelly September 8, 2014 at 9:34 pm

Very nice article Penny. Loved the pictures!

Penny Sadler September 8, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Thanks for visiting the blog Shelly.

Wandering Educators September 8, 2014 at 9:23 pm

What a gorgeous place! I’d love to visit.

Penny Sadler September 8, 2014 at 10:53 pm

It is definitely worth the visit.

Jeff September 8, 2014 at 8:40 pm

I love the buildings of Fair Park. I had no idea what the meaning of the status were. Thanks.

Penny Sadler September 8, 2014 at 10:53 pm

Hey Jeff, have you been to Fair Park. You know I’ve lived here a long time and I only recently discovered it myself.

Jeff September 9, 2014 at 8:06 pm

Yes. I grew up in Dallas and have been many times.

Penny Sadler September 9, 2014 at 8:31 pm

How cool. Did you ever go to any of the big concerts hosted by KZEW at the Cotton Bowl?


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