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Naming the Tower of the Americas

March 8, 2012

Tower of Americas at HemisFair '68, photo by Harry Kieke, MS 362, General Photograph Collection.

Whether you’re a San Antonio resident or visitor to the city, the Tower of the Americas is a difficult landmark to miss.  Extending 750 feet above downtown San Antonio, the structure literally towers over the city.  Built as part of the 1968 World’s Fair, the Tower of the Americas includes an observation deck and revolving restaurant that offer panoramic views of the metropolitan area. There’s no doubt that the Tower has made a lasting impression on the San Antonio skyline, but have you ever wondered how the Tower of Americas got its name?

The short answer is that Rosa M. Gonzalez of Corpus Christi named the Tower. The long answer is a little more interesting.

In the summer of 1965, the Public Relations department of San Antonio Fair, Inc. organized a contest to seek a name for the tower being built as part of HemisFair ’68. The stated objective of the contest was to select an appropriate name for the HemisFair Tower which should be original, appeal to human interest, and continue to live on as a tribute to the community of nations in the Western Hemisphere. The contest was open to anyone except the judges, HemisFair employees, and members of the Executive Committee and members of their immediate families. The contest entry form ran in the San Antonio Express-News and San Antonio Light on Sunday August 8, 1965.

Contest entry form featuring proposed tower design, MS 31, San Antonio Fair, Inc. Records

Of the 3, 354 entries received, 3 judges from the local community selected and submitted the “best” 10 entries to the HemisFair Executive Committee:

  • Astroshaft
  • Astrospire
  • Astrotower
  • Hemispire
  • Hemistower
  • Spire of the Americas
  • Stratospire
  • Tower of Friendship
  • Tower of Peace
  • Tower of the Americas

Letter to Rosa M. Gonzalez announcing she has won contest, MS 31, San Antonio Fair, Inc. Records

In May 1966, the HemisFair Executive Committee made the final decision regarding the winner. 68 separate individuals submitted “Tower of the Americas” as their contest entry, but Rosa M. Gonzalez’s entry was post-marked the earliest.   She received a $100 U.S. Savings Bond, a 3-day stay at the Menger Hotel, including travel expenses for her and her immediate family, as well as a season pass to HemisFair ’68 for herself and her immediate family. The next 9 postmarked entries for “Tower of the Americas” received $25 U.S. Savings Bonds.  Certificates were awarded to the remaining contestants who also submitted the winning name.

The materials from the Tower Naming Contest folder in the San Antonio Fair, Inc. archival collection have been digitized and can be found in UTSA’s online repository.  There you can read through all 50 pages of contest entries, some of which are sure to surprise you.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 20, 2012 11:25 am

    Really great little known fact!

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