The 1904 World’s Fair, also known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, was officially opened on April 30th by David R. Francis. Francis was the exposition's president, and he opened the Fair with the call, “Open ye gates. Swing wide, ye portals,” to St. Louis, Missouri.
Fair organizers had erected nearly 1,500 buildings on 1,200 acres of redesigned forest park. The buildings included several grand “palaces,” and several halls.
For the next seven months, fairgoers from across the globe experienced the latest achievements in technology, fine arts, manufacturing, science, civics, foreign policy, and education. The fair hosted extravagant exhibits from 50 foreign countries and 43 of the then-45 states.
The fair offered more than lofty and noble ideas; fairgoers had many opportunities to indulge in popular culture and entertainment on the mile-long arcade known as the Pike. The Pike was considered the carnival side of the Fair.
Visitors to the Pike enjoyed 50 different amusements, including 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.
The most spectacular concession was the Observation Wheel. From the top of the wheel — 265 feet above the fair — riders enjoyed the best aerial view of the expo.
By the end of the 1904 World's Fair in December, more than 20 million visitors had reveled in the wonders of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.
The exposition thrust St. Louis into the global spotlight, with the fair becoming a powerful symbol of the city, along with the advent of the arch.