Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April 30 - St. Louis World's Fair

The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, or the St. Louis World's Fair, opened on April 30, 1904. Intended to mark the 1803 purchase of the Louisiana Territory, it was delayed a year to secure participation of more states and foreign nations. The largest fair to date, it had more than 1,500 buildings and 75 miles of roads and walkways. The Palace of Agriculture occupied 20 acres. All of the neo-Classical exhibition palaces were temporary (except the Palace of Fine Art, which became the St. Louis Art Museum), built from plaster of Paris mixed with hemp fibers applied to wood frames. Ragtime music was popular, and composer/pianist Scott Joplin (who settled in St. Louis in 1901) wrote "The Cascades" to invoke the waterfall at the Grand Basin (pictured), which was the Fair’s centerpiece. A carnival area called The Pike featured contortionists, reenactments of the Boer War, babies in incubators, the Dancing Girls of Madrid, Jim Key the Educated Horse, and Hagenbeck’s Zoological Paradise and Animal Circus with its elephant water slide.

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