1904 World's Fair, St. Louis History, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: 1904 World’s Fair | St. Louis

In April 1904, St. Louis opened its doors to the world for what was officially called the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, but was widely known as the St. Louis World’s Fair. Millions of dollars had been spent to build the 1,200-acre fairgrounds and its nearly 1,500 buildings—a huge scale that ended up delaying the opening by a year. During the eight months the fair stayed open, nearly 20 million people paid a visit. On display were marvels of technology, agriculture, art, and history, and there were amusement rides and entertainment to be found in a section called “the Pike.” The fair introduced a huge audience to some relatively new inventions such as private automobiles, outdoor electric lighting, and the X-ray machine—as well as foods from across the United States and around the world. The exposition also had a focus on anthropological exhibits—with an approach that is shocking by today’s standards: In some cases, organizers brought people from the Philippines, the Arctic, and elsewhere to the fairgrounds as set pieces among re-creations of their home environment or villages. After the fair closed, nearly all of its structures were demolished within a short time, leaving only a few footprints, ponds, and canals in Forest Park in St. Louis.

At the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in Saint Louis, Missouri, a view of the Natural History Fossil Exhibit with the model of a whale and skeletons of several dinosaurs. The Smithsonian coordinated all of the United States Government exhibits and prepared a display on its activities and collections for the exposition.(Smithsonian Institution)

Bird’s-eye view of 1904 World’s Fair buildings from the Administration building. A panoramic view of the construction of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition buildings in the snow. 1904-01-24

Inside entrance at Palace of Machinery In summer 1903 construction continues inside the entrance to the Palace of Machinery for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition — the 1904 World’s Fair. 1903

Palace of Transportation. [Louisiana Purchase Exposition]. LPE 1617. Photograph by the Official Photographic Company, 1904. Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collections. WF 1279. Scan (c) 2004, Missouri Historical Society.

William H. Thompson makes his address on Opening Day of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition William H. Thompson on the dais at the Louisiana Monument in the Plaza of St. Louis on Opening Day of the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Standing next to him is David R. Francis, president of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company. Thompson, president of the National Bank of Commerce in St. Louis, served as treasurer of the company, chairman of the Grounds and Buildings Committee and vice-chair of the exposition’s Executive Committee. 1904-04-30

Fairgoers approach Festival Hall and the West Restaurant. The fairgrounds of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition — the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair — are open for business as visitors approach Festival Hall. 1904-04

South Lagoon from Grand Basin Westward. OWFN 10012. Photograph by Official Photographic Company, 1904. Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collections. [Negative number]. Scan © 2006, Missouri Historical Society.

Missouri Corn Temple in the Palace of Agriculture The Missouri Corn Palace in the Agriculture palace at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition — the 1904 World’s Fair. 1904

View in the Palace of Machinery A photograph taken from the Allis-Chalmers exhibit in the Palace of Machinery at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition — the 1904 World’s Fair — shows exhibits from such companies as Jeansville Iron Works, Crocker-Wheeler, Doble Abner, Harrisburg Foundry, General Electric and Westinghouse. 1904

Elephant made from Almonds. California exhibit. Palace of Horticulture. [Louisiana Purchase Exposition]. Photograph by Jessie Tarbox Beals, 1904. Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collections. NS 20615. Scan (c) 2004, Missouri Historical Society.

Underwood Typewriter exhibit in the Palace of Liberal Arts The Underwood company constructed a colorful pavilion with jewel-like stained glass set in an iron frame. The structure was lit with concealed electric bulbs. Inside six of its twelve model typewriters stood on specially made pedestals with adjustable mahogany chairs for the typists. Nearby the Underwood display were typewriter exhibits by the Fox Typewriter Company, Mittag & Volger, Fay-Sholes and Smith-Corona. 1904

Exhibit of historic locomotive engines in the Palace of Transportation A number of locomotives from nineteenth century England and America were on display in the Palace of Transportation at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. 1904

View of the East Cascade Falls. [Louisiana Purchase Exposition]. LPE 1393. Photograph by Official Photographic Company, 1904. Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collections. WF 0456. Scan (c) 2003, Missouri Historical Society.

Night view of the Festival Hall and Cascades from the Plaza of St. Louis across the Grand Basin with the Terrace of States behind the Festival Hall. Missouri Historical Society

Fairgoers travel in a World’s Fair auto bus at the 1904 World’s Fair. Missouri Historical Society

Wedding photograph at the top of the DeForest Wireless Telegraph Tower The bride and groom pose for their wedding photograph at the top of the DeForest Wireless Telegraph Tower at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition — the 1904 World’s Fair. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Violet E. Ingle and Alfred M. Landers, both from Worden, Illinois, were married on June 12, 1904 at the highest platform of the tower by the Rev. Dr. B.C. Palmer, pastor of Lafayette Presbyterian Church in St. Louis. The top of the 300 foot tower was a popular attraction at the fair. 1904-06

Creation on the Pike The blue-domed building held the Creation concession on the Pike at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition — the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Fair-goers traveled by boat through a labyrinth of underground passages to enter a roomy cavern, where they were ‘diverted by illusions in the form of living heads that have no bodies to support them.’ The destination of the boat trip was an auditorium, where they viewed pictures of creation as narrated in the biblical book of Genesis. 1904

Two model American warships and operators. Naval Show at the Pike. [Louisiana Purchase Exposition]. World’s Fair Presentation Album 11, plate 794. OWFN 9365. Photograph by the Official Photographic Company, 1904. Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collections. NS 20702. Scan (c) 2004, Missouri Historical Society.

Creatures walk around in enclosures at Hagenbeck’s animal show on the Pike. The German animal trainer Carl Hagenbeck started his traveling animal shows in the 1870s, with spectacles featuring people and animals from remote regions.

View though Ferris Wheel from car. Photograph by Emil Boehl, 1904. LPE 1847. Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collections. WF 0476. Scan © 2006, Missouri Historical Society.

Tyrolean Alps. [Pike]. [Louisiana Purchase Exposition]. LPE 1767. OWFN 8593. Photograph by the Official Photographic Company, 1904. Photographs and Prints Collections. Missouri History Museum. WF 0152. NS 15588. Scan © 2008, Missouri History Museum.

Original caption: “Among the inhabitants of the Arctic Region at the World’s Fair, St. Louis, Mo.” This was one of several anthropological exhibits at the fair featuring people brought in from around the world.

Sinhalese dancers from the Mysterious Asia concession Sinhalese dancers pose with elephants at the Mysterious Asia concession on the Pike at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition — the 1904 World’s Fair.1904

The Pyrheliophor, a device invented by Manual Antonio Gomes (bottom right), a Portuguese priest known as Father Himalaya. The Pyrheliophor, on display at the fair, was an apparatus set up to use thousands of small mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays and determine how much heat could be generated.

The 1904 Olympics also took place in St. Louis at the same time, stretched out over several months. Here, the finish of the first heat of the 100-yard handicap.

“At Sunset.” A view across the Grand Basin at the 1904 World’s Fair toward the West Restaurant pavilion and the Ferris wheel.

See more photos & original article HERE