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Places for large-scale public assembly have long been a part of cities—from public halls and fairgrounds to stadia and opera houses. Although private venues such as Chicago's International Amphitheater (home to five national political conventions through 1968) often housed major conventions, the twentieth century saw a substantial expansion of new public convention facilities. The City Beautiful movement and the promotion of large civic centers provided a locus for the development of buildings such as San Francisco's Civic Auditorium, Kansas City's Municipal Auditorium, St. Louis's Kiel Auditorium and Cleveland's Public Auditorium.

The great burst of convention center development came after World War II, with the advent of the federal urban renewal program and the local initiatives aimed at downtown revitalization and development. Cities sought to revive downtowns ...

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