The 1904 World's Fair (Louisiana Purchase Exposition) marked the 100th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase, a monumental event in U.S. history. Fair organizers set out to celebrate that event and create their own monumental event. It seemed appropriate to set the Fair in St. Louis Missouri, at that time the fourth largest city in the country and part of the land covered by the Treaty.
The Fair was to be a living tribute to the accomplishments and progress man had made in the years following the signing of the Louisiana Purchase Treaty. And, between April 30-December 1, 1904, that is just what 20,000,000 fairgoers experienced. Grand buildings offered working exhibits, inventions, and innovations. Peoples from around the world shared their unique customs. Daily special events and visits to the amusements on the Pike added the element of fun to each visit. Everyone left the Fair with stories to tell friends and families and memories that lasted a lifetime. To put this fair in to perspective To put this in perspective the Chicago World's Fair in 1891 took a little over 600 acres of flatlands to house it whereas the St Louis Fair spilled out over 1271 acres of former wilderness, an area known then as it is now, as Forest Park.
When the Fair closed on December 1, 1904, Exposition Company President D. R. Francis knew his goal that the world should "learn the lesson here taught and gather from it inspiration for still greater accomplishments" had been achieved.
Some notable inventions of the 1904 Worlds Fair.
The first true edible conical shaped cone for serving ice cream was created at the St. Louis Worlds Fair by Ernest Hamwi in 1904
Ice Tea was popularized at the 1904 Worlds Fair
The Hot Dog was popularized at the 1904 Worlds Fari.
The X-ray machine, now standard equipment in both hospitals and airports.
The baby incubator. Tennessean E.M. Bayliss brought actual infant incubators, invented in 1888 by Drs. Alan M. Thomas and William Champion, to an exhibit on the Fair's Pike. Throughout the fair, premature infants from local orphanages and poor families lived in a row of 14 metal-framed glass incubators. Fairgoers paid to watch nurses care for the babies, and the admission charge helped fund the project.
The electric typewriter, viewed by many secretaries past and present as the greatest invention of all time.
The telautograph, an early version of the fax machine, invented by Elisha Gray of Chicago. This invention had received little notice at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Even after 1904, it took decades before this handy device earned its place as an indispensable office machine.
The telephone answering machine, then called the Poulson telegraphone
Household and hotel products such as the tabletop stove, coffeemaker, automatic potato masher, bread machine and dishwasher. The electric dumbwaiter was a welcome update of the old hand-operated house elevator used by housewives and kitchen maids
The automatic gatekeeper at each fair entrance was the first to admit one person after receiving the proper coin, and then automatically lock again until the next coin was inserted.
Electricity was the star of the show. All the major buildings on the fairgrounds were lit inside and out by electric lights, and the fair's thoroughfares were illuminated by electric lights. Within the Palaces of Machinery, Transportation and Electricity, many electric-powered machines and appliances were on display. Inventor Thomas Edison himself was brought in to oversee the assembly of the electrical exhibits.
The electrical plug and wall outlet. One hundred years later, no house can have too many outlets.
Wireless telegraphy came into its own in an exhibit of the DeForest Wireless Telegraphy Company, which sent daily news of the fair to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the St. Louis Star via its observation tower and seven stations on the fairgrounds. Also featured in the DeForest exhibit was a wireless telephone, precursor of the now-ubiquitous cellular telephone
A new underwater battleship called the submarine made a big splash, although the U.S. Navy's exhibit didn't include an actual submarine
The airplane. The fair featured several demonstrations of various flying machines that took off and landed from the aeronautic field, located in the area that later became Washington University's Fraternity Row. Although a contest offered $100,000 to anyone who could build anything that could fly bearing at least one person, few were successful.
Erkers was the official Photographer of the 1904 World's Fair. Before we were a complete optical company we also worked with camera equipment. Not many companies can say that. Also we are the oldest optical company in St. Louis that continues to offer the best products and the best service.
Another fun fact!!
August Erker a relative of the Erker Family won a Gold Medal in the 1904 olympics in St. Louis for rowing.