The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, more commonly referred to as the St. Louis World’s Fair, opened its gates on May 1, 1904 and throughout its seven months of life, entertained approximately 20 million visitors. It was a remarkable event, and its impact on St. Louis and the world is felt to this day. Cotton candy, private automobiles, x-ray machines, and other technologies debuted at the fair. Forest Park and Washington University in St. Louis still retain remnants of the exposition, although most of the impressively elaborate buildings were disposable and are no longer standing.
Today’s episode starts by considering at a tragedy at the fair, the infant incubator exhibit, and then to lighten the tone we will delve into some of the crazier aspects of the 1904 Summer Olympic Games held in conjunction with the fair.
Join me and my friend Sheri as she tries to distinguish between Fact or Fiction!
1904 World’s Fair: Looking Back at Looking Forward, mohistory.org/exhibitsLegacy/Fair/WF/HTML/Overview/page3.html.
Allen, Greg. “’Living Exhibits’ at 1904 World’s Fair Revisited.” NPR, NPR, 31 May 2004, www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1909651#.
“Character of the World’s Fair Is Outlined.” The St. Louis Republic, 10 July 1901, p. 2.
“Cost 50 Million Dollars.” The Kansas City Star, 30 Apr. 1904, p. 2.
Death at the Fair, atthefair.homestead.com/Misc/DeathATtheFair.html.
Fischel, S. “What Becomes of the Incubator Babies.” St. Louis Star-Times, 4 Sept. 1910, p. 29.
Godson, Helen. “Where Babies Are Made Strong by Artificial Means.” The Washington Times, 2 Oct. 1904, p. 9.
“History of the Fair.” At the Fair, atthefair.homestead.com/HOF.html.
“Louisiana Purchase Exposition Ground Plan.” The Democratic Advocate, 22 Mar. 1902, p. 4.
“Olympic Games This Week.” The Kansas City Star, 24 Aug. 1904, p. 11.
“Olympic Marathon Race.” The Times, 31 Aug. 1904, p. 4.
Otoole, Sean. “Story of South Africa’s First Black Olympians Keeps Us Guessing.” The Mail & Guardian, 7 July 2016, mg.co.za/article/2016-07-07-00-story-of-south-africas-first-black-olympians-keeps-us-guessing/.
Palaces- Main Page, atthefair.homestead.com/Palaces.html.
“St. Louis Fair Opened in Presence of a Quarter Million People.” San Francisco Chronicle, 1 May 1904, p. 33.
“ST. LOUIS, U.S.A. 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition.” St. Louis World’s Fair 1904, Louisiana Purchase Exposition, americasbesthistory.com/wfstlouis1904.html.
Sultan, Aisha. “Secrets, Scandals and Little-Known Stories about the 1904 World’s Fair.” STLtoday.com, 13 Oct. 2019, www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/secrets-scandals-and-little-known-stories-about-the-1904-worlds-fair/collection_8dd7c5e9-7bb0-51c9-8da8-40822ab2c64e.html.
“The World’s Fair Formally Opened.” The Semi-Weekly New Era, 4 May 1904, p. 3.
Wadsworth, Kimberly. “Relics of the World’s Fair: St. Louis.” Atlas Obscura, Atlas Obscura, 19 Feb. 2014, www.atlasobscura.com/articles/relics-of-the-worlds-fair-st-louis-missouri.
SPECIAL CORRECTION: In this episode, I mistakenly said that the Louisiana Purchase was the U.S.’s purchase of all the land EAST of the Mississippi River. This is 100% wrong! I admit I am directionally challenged–don’t even ask my kids how hard it was for me to navigate London–but even I know that the Louisiana Purchase was the U.S.’s purchase of all the land WEST of the Mississippi River! Sorry if this caused any confusion.