Louisiana Purchase Exposition

  • Also Known As: St Louis World's Fair

The 1904 St Louis World's Fair was laid out and landscaped by George Kessler, It covered 1,200 plus acres and was the largest fair to date. There were over 1500 buildings, connected by some seventy-five miles of roads and walkways. Exhibits were staged by sixty-two foreign nations, the US government and forty-three of the then forty-five US states. There were over fifty concession-type amusements on the Pike. In light of the immensity of the Fair, it was necessary to issue daily programs so visitors could make the most of their experience. These programs cost 5 cents and were printed by the press of the Model Printery in the Administration Building, in the Hall of Congresses. They contained detailed information on morning, afternoon and evening events including time and place. They also contained advertisements and a map of the Fair. In organizing the Fair, four divisions were created-Exhibits, Exploitation, Works, and Concessions and Admissions. Within the Division of Exploitation, was the Press and Publicity Department, which had the largest and most experienced group of newspaper men of any previous fair. This department created every kind of periodical publication about the Fair. The local press bureau section collected the news of the Exposition day by day, putting it out in the daily programs. Besides the daily programs, the Worlds Fair Bulletin was published as a monthly magazine both before and during the Fair. - NPS

Associated Works


Y/M/D Description Place
1903/00/00 Swedish Pavilion, designed by Swedish architect Ferdinand Boberg, is built as an exposition building for the 1904 St Louis World's Fair. Swedish Pavilion, Lindsborg
1903/00/00 Frank Howe designs the Palace of Varied Industries Building at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (razed).
1903/00/00 Under the direction of Governor John Green Brady, the Revenue Cutter Rush collects totems from SE Alaska for exhibition at the St Louis Exposition. These poles, now largely recarved by Native artisans, form the nucleus of the totem exhibit at Sitka NHP. Sitka National Historical Park, Sitka
1904/00/00 Union Electric Light and Power Co doubles the production electricity for the World's Fair of 1904. The Ashley Street Plant combined with the newly acquired Missouri Electric substation deliver a brilliantly lighted exposition. Missouri Electric Light and Power Co, City of St Louis
1904/00/00 George T Kessler, official Landscape Architect of the St Louis World's Fair, selects Reasoners' Royal Palm Nurseries as a supplier of plants for use in landscaping the fairgrounds. Forest Park, STL,
1904/00/00 Union Electric Light and Power Co builds the 36,000 kW coal-fired Ashley Street Plant to provide steam heat to downtown St Louis. It will power The Palace of Electricity's electric lights at the 1904 World's Fair. North Riverfront Industrial Historic District, City of St Louis
1904/00/00 During Roosevelt's presidency, the Maltese Cross Cabin is acquired for the World's Fair, hosted in St Louis, MO. Maltese Cross Cabin, Theodore Roosevelt National Park - South Unit, SD
1904/00/00 The NCR Corporation builds a pavilion for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St Louis, Missouri. The $5,000 building is constructed in sections so that it can be moved. St John's Theater and Pub, Portland
1904/04/30 Opening of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Forest Park, STL,
1904/06/00 Vulcan created as a symbol of Birmingham's iron industry, wins the Grand Prize at the Palace of Mines and Metallurgy, St Louis World's Fair Vulcan, Birmingham
1904/07/00 Old Cahokia Courthouse is displayed at the St Louis World's Fair. Old Cahokia Courthouse, Cahokia
1904/07/00 Charles Ireland buys a Tiffany stain-glass window for his Greensboro home at the St Louis World's Fair. Charles H Ireland House, Greensboro
1904/07/00 S Karpen and Bros win the grand prize for upholstered furniture at the Saint Louis World's Fair
1904/07/00 George Ferris's Columbian Exposition Ferris Wheel is erected in St Louis for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Forest Park, STL,
1904/07/00 Jack Daniel wins the Gold Medal for best whiskey at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition
1904/07/00 Rankin, Kellogg and Crane are awarded a silver medal at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition for their design of the Federal Building and US Courthouse in Indianapolis. US Courthouse and Post Office, Indianapolis
1904/08/20 During a visit to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, Kate Chopin suffers a cerebral hemorrhage. Forest Park, STL,
1904/09/04 At the request of his client, C Green visits the St Louis Expo. "I do not want you to go on with my home until you see the fair ... you will be able to get so many ideas of woods and other things for finishing what you now have on." - Adelaide Tichenor Adelaide Tichenor House, Long Beach
1904/09/15 Abbott Lawrence Rotch sends up the first American lighter-than-air balloon equipped with meteorological instruments. Forest Park, STL,
1904/11/16 Thomas Wolfe's brother, Grover, dies of typhoid fever contracted while working at the St Louis World's Fair, details are use in two later novels. Forest Park, STL,
1904/12/01 Closing of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition
1905/00/00 Among the institutions which contributed to the success of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, none stands higher than the Mississippi Valley Trust Company. MVTC subscribed capital stock for the event and held funds for a number of state commissioners. Mississippi Valley Trust Company Building, City of St Louis

History »

Thousands of people from all walks of life converged on Forest Park in 1904 to take part in "the spectacle". After the Fair opened on April 30, 1904, the average daytime population was usually over 100,000 people including both visitors and those workers who lived on the grounds of the Fair. Although the first few months were disappointing in attendance figures, visitor numbers increased as the Fair progressed. Most fair-goers paid a daily admission fee of 50 cents, but others who either lived in St. Louis or anticipated a longer visit, could buy coupon booklets at reduced rates. Stockholders in the Exposition Company and their families could get in for half price. Employees of the Exposition Company and concessionaires received coupon books with identification photographs for admittance to the Fairgrounds.

The great exposition ended on December 1, 1904. The legacy of the Fair lives on. Today St Louis enjoys Forest Park-an urban oasis that was saved and restored by the Fair. The city still has tangible reminders of the great exposition such as the St Louis Art Museum, the Worlds' Fair Pavilion and the St Louis Zoo's Bird Cage. All St Louisans can be proud that for seven months in 1904, a kaleidoscope of humanity came together on the grounds of the exposition and stood in awe at the architecture, technology and wonder of this great fair. St Louis had again fulfilled its role as gateway city and literally played host to the world. - NPS

Data »

Area of Significance: World's Expositions

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